I have a Kickstarter campaign running for this little board, the PWRLNK-55, which converts the kind of voltages we see on solar panels, often around 21 Volts, down to the very useful 5 Volts used by USB and many electronic devices. The post a few weeks ago about hand soldered surface mount was on one of these prototypes.
Here’s a small solar panel powering an Arduino board and some servo motors. The panel output is too high for the Arduino to accept directly. The PWRLNK-55 efficiently converts the panel voltage down to 5 Volts for the USB port.
Switching power supplies like this convert high voltage low current into lower voltage higher current, preserving most of the overall power.
The maximum power point of this panel is 16.6 Volts at 0.28 Amps for 4.7 Watts. The PWRLNK-55 is about 90% efficient, so 4.2 Watts / 5 Volts = 0.85 Amps. That’s much better for small devices than using a linear regulator with a big heat sink, and getting only the 0.28 Amps with a lot of waste heat.
The USB outputs support the 1.5 Amp Direct Charging Port standard for charging phones, tablets and other modern devices.
Lots of electronics including Do-It-Yourself designs don’t use USB, so there are also screw terminal outputs for simple wire connections.
Please visit the Kickstarter page: