I added some LED accent lighting to my room and powered it via a solar panel.
The goal was to create some ambient lighting at night that was interesting and inviting, using 100% renewable energy. A solar panel was installed in the south facing window to collect light energy during the day. A sealed lead-acid battery was used to store the energy.
The lighting needed to be on for a minimum of 4 hours per night. This requirement dictated the a battery capacity of at least 5 Ah and solar panel size of 18 W.
The lights consisted of two separate LED strands. One strand was a blue bar containing about 20 LEDs. This bar was used for ambient wall illumination. The other strand consisted of 3 one-watt white LEDs. This strand was placed inside a chinese lantern to provide direct lighting for the room.
A charge controller was installed between the solar panel and battery to regulate optimum charging currents. Additionally, it provided protection against overcharging the battery, as well as protection against excessively draining the battery.
The battery and charge controller were both placed inside a clean, empty paint bucket. Electrical connectors were mounted to the lid, and all wiring was neatly tucked inside. An additional USB socket was also mounted on the lid to allow charging of smartphones and other USB devices.