Upgrading a solar lamp to charge an iPad


[Phillip] and the crew at Voltaic Systems took a look at the Sunnan solar powered desk lamp from IKEA a while back, and while they thought it was pretty useful, there were definitely some things they wanted to change.

First on their list of revisions was to increase the capacity of the stock battery pack. Taking the lamp apart and unscrewing the pack’s lid revealed a set of 3 AA cells, which they swapped out for higher-capacity models with more than double the watt-hour rating.

A beefed up battery is a good start, but the lamp’s tiny solar panel has no hope of topping off the batteries outside of Death Valley. To ensure that they get a nice full charge, a small jack was wired into to the battery pack, allowing the group to connect any size external solar panel they pleased.

Finally, [Phillip] and Co. wanted the ability to charge an iPad2 from the lamp’s battery pack. They hacked in a small USB connector and a slightly modified MintyBoost board to provide a little extra juice to their tablet.

While they are still testing the modifications, they say that everything is working nicely, citing that the extra battery capacity and charging abilities are a great addition.


  1. Oscar says:

    This is a really cool Idea. I like how they’ve illustrated every step on the initial website. I want to look at this for myself. Thanks guys.

  2. bojimuncher says:

    I would think that they were pretty intelligent for building this, but they did also buy an iPad so I guess it evens out.

  3. Drone says:

    Just want to point out that it is a good thing IKEA didn’t call themselves iKEA. If they did, the goons at Apple would sue the pants (or skirts) off them.

  4. Alex says:

    I like how the lamp is shining on its own solar panel…

  5. rasz says:

    that small solar panel will be able to power ipad for exactly …1 minute per day of perfect weather

  6. Kyle Kay says:

    I could see this being fairly useful in a pinch. Not so much as a regularly used device. Also you will for sure have topped up batteries

  7. Haku says:

    That’s an awful lot of work to only get a 25% charge of an iPad 2’s battery.

  8. Dax says:


    So they took a solar powered lamp, replaced the batteries, replaced the solar panel with an external unit, added a boost converter and a USB port.

    Why did they need the solar powered lamp in the first place? All they did was use it as a battery case.

  9. Oscar says:

    Guys…it’s not a matter of why they did it. Or whether it’s practical. They did it because they can. It’s fun!

  10. Joe says:

    Solar Lamp? Really? … REALLY? Do they keep them on the same shelf as dehydrated water at the store?

  11. Microguy says:

    Actually, this is a good idea.
    I just bought a Kindle Fire.
    I’m thinking (now), of getting some decent solar cells, and mounting them to the back of it.
    When you’re not using it, just flip it over and it’ll charge up a bit.
    Put some good cells out there, and you should be able to get a decent charge rate. Not as good as a power line, but I don’t expect to be using it more than not, so it should work out for me.

    Nice little self-contained unit. I like it.

  12. CG says:

    Gotta love the guys at Voltaic. They make some great solar products for charging your devices on the go. I have one and it works really well.

  13. ups says:

    The trick is having a solar panel than can juice enough amps to do the charging. There aren’t many. So the need of the battery that will, later, charge the mobile device.
    I tried to skip the battery but not enough juice from my panel. :(

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