8.17.2011

DIY Solar Lamps

Yikes, this post is way overdue! I've been meaning to post this for a while now. I got hung up trying to really customize one of them and couldn't find the right materials for it. The finished ones have been sitting happily though, soaking up light by day and giving me light by night!


Lovely right? Totally comparable to these:
From {ThinkGeek} at $35 a pop they aren't exactly affordable for every one! Mine ended up being about $7 each! I think yes!

My dad sent me this link from {lifehacker} at the beginning of the summer on how to make your own sun jars. My family knows me so well! I knew immediately that I wanted to do it (this is my disclaimer that this was NOT, in any way shape or form, my own original idea), so I set off on my journey to find the right jars. Remember {this} post?


It took a few weeks, but I finally found these stupid jars at {WALMART!} Walmart, of all places! I looked EVERYWHERE I could possibly think of and ended up finding some at Walmart. Gah! Then I went on my search for the right solar lights to take apart...

And found them at Harbor Freight {buy them online here} Actually, Dad found them. Not me. Keep in mind that it is way better to buy these FIRST, and then buy a jar that will fit the light. The other way around will just be difficult.

Those were the only semi difficult things to find, so, onto the materials list!

  • Solar light to be deconstructed
  • Nice, strong cutters of some kind
  • Wire nippers (the strong kind, not the flimsy jewelry kind.) Dad, remind me to bring these back to you. 
  • Glass jar with a GLASS LID. It is 100% crucial to have a glass lid. It is also very important that the jar won't leak water, because you wouldn't want to ruin your solar lights if it rains!
  • Frosting spray paint
  • Strong glue, like E6000
  • Small screwdriver
  • Your dad, to help your figure out all the electrical stuff and try out a bunch of expensive power tools while taking apart the solar light. 
It's a decent list, but hopefully with those two shopping tips will help get you everything fast. Awesome!

First, we gotta frost the jars. It just gives it a nice muted look and when they turn on in the evening they just fill the area with romantic, ambient lighting. Just spray paint the outside of the jar (NOT the lid). It may need a few coats before it gets the frost that you like.  Let dry completely.

NOTE: Me and my dad are working on this together, so when the hands change from woman hands to man hands don't be alarmed. Take apart your solar light as much as possible. More than likely, you will need to bust out a tiny screwdriver to really get it down to the guts.

This is about what it will look like. Yours might differ slightly if you got a different brand of solar light. But you should have a battery, a light, a switch, and some wiring.

We learned this the hard way. It is very helpful to glue all the wiring down to the base BEFORE cutting away the excess. First time around, we just cut away the excess and left the wires all over the place and they ended up coming undone and the wiring got messed up and the light didn't work. When we glued everything down it all stayed in place and nothing came undone. Huzzah! So glue it all down and let dry completely.

Then cut away anything excess. That little square is the solar panel, don't cut that. This step with vary depending on how big your solar panel is and how wide your jar lid is. Keep in mind that it's not how wide the mouth of the jar is, it's how wide the inside of the lid is. I've written in out in equation form, because I'm smart like that.

The panel has to fit INSIDE the lid. This is why it's important to get the solar panel first. Really if I were you, I would get the solar lights, cut it down, then take it with you when you go out and shop and secretly open up all the jars and jam that solar panel in and check to see if fits in nicely.



So cut, cut, cut! Use shears, wire nippers, and anything else that will work to cut through the plastic.

Done and done. We ended up trimming it down a little more than this, right down to the edges of of solar panel.

Chances are, you will need to trim it a little more and wiggle it in until it fits. How you want to keep that solar panel in is up to you. {lifehacker} taped it in and followed suit. You know, just in case I decide that I want to use the jar for something else or if the light breaks and I need to replace it. However you could glue it in, cement it in, glue dot it in or just shove it in so violently that it gets permanently stuck! Put the lid on a the frosted jar, set it in the sun for a few hours aaaaand.....

Epic win! The best part about these is that they are smart, they KNOW when to turn on! So no wasted solar energy!

Wonder why that middle one is yellow? I stuck a candle in there! I wanted to see if it would provide the same kind of effect and it did!

A less expensive, but still pretty alternative to a regular sun jar!

They give off just the right amount of light to be able to see, but not so much that you're overwhelmed with bright light when you're trying to woo your hubby.

Happy crafting! Linking up {here}.

11 comments:

Chris King said...

This. Is. Awesome. Epic Win! And who is your male hand model? He's got a great set of hands. Glad this worked, they are very pretty.

Kimberly from "bugaboo" said...

I blame you for making my pinterest boards out of control.

Kara @ Mine for the Making said...

LOVE these!!! Way cool! I think you should do a Halloween spin on them in a couple of months ;) Maybe vinyl ghost face or spooky silhouettes... I wonder how that would look?

Betsy said...

Fabulous idea Amie. It's so nice that you and your dad can work on these projects together. Thanks for sharing.

laxsupermom said...

Wow! These are sooo cool! I'm thinking that I'm going to have to scoop up a bunch of solar lights when all the outdoor lawn & garden stuff gets clearanced in a couple of weeks. Thanks for sharing.

Bethany @ A Fish Who Likes Flowers said...

Your jars turned out great!!! I might have to give this version a try. I recently made something similar out of mason jars and glass paint if you want to check it out: http://afishwholikesflowers.blogspot.com/2011/08/teams-win.html

Rose and Heather said...

These are vary neet I would never have thought of it. Come and link up at Crafty Lassie Tuseday. http://sewstylishboutique.blogspot.com/
Rose and Heather

Kathi said...

You have some really cool ideas. This is so fun! My daughter showed me blog. She loves your head bands. They are super cute. Kathi

Reannah @ {Shaped by Grace} said...

Stopping by from Tatertots & Jello! These are really cool! Great job!! Thanks for sharing!! :) xo, Reannah

VickiT said...

Those turned out super cute. You did a great job.

Tres Chere said...

I love this idea. I want to try it,but I'm not sure if I would have enough patience? Oh well, I'm gonna try it anyway.
http://trescherechattel.blogspot.com/

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