A friendly solar-powered glow is a welcoming addition to any porch or patio — and since the components of solar LEDs have become relatively cheap, it’s not hard to find affordable solar walkway lights, string lights, or other small solar fixtures. They often don’t come in a lot of varieties, though, beyond the usual stake-in-the-ground style, so if you want something that’s a little more fun or funky, you may want to go the DIY route. Luckily, it’s not hard to turn a generic solar light into a more exciting focal piece with a few simple tools and materials. Here’s how to tackle your own upcycled solar light project.
How to upcycle a solar light
The tools and materials you need will vary, but a good cordless drill, a set of drill bits, some floral wire and wire cutters will come in handy. The most important factor is to choose a spot outdoors to place your light where it will get sunlight so it can charge. Once you’ve got your materials and location, you can decide what type of light you’d like to create.
There are many ways to use the lights that come in cheap solar path lights, so we can start with those. The first thing to remember is that these lights come with stakes, but there’s no rule saying you have to use them. Instead, you can use a different structure to hold the light. For a solar chandelier, take a few of the path light tops and place them in a thrifted hanging candelabra. The great thing about this type of light is that you can hang it anywhere that gets some sunlight because it’s wireless.
Lighted fence caps
To create lighted fence caps with solar path lights, drill a hole in the top of your fence post the same size as the base of the light that normally fits into the stakes. The hole should be about two to three inches deep to hold the light fixture. To measure the depth of each hole to make all of your lights sit at the same height above the posts, wrap some painter’s tape or other gentle adhesive tape around your drill bit several times, and use that as a stopping point for your drill. If you stop drilling at the tape each time, your holes will all be the same depth.
A lighted centrepiece
You can also use wire wreath forms to create lighted centerpieces by putting the light from a path light in the wreath form and then decorating around it with whatever greenery or wreath decorations you like. For a special outdoor occasion, or for a focus piece on your patio, these are a fun and simple solar light upcycling project. If you have a hard time getting the lights to remain upright, you can use some florist wire to hold them in place by wrapping it around the base of the light and attaching it to the wreath form.
The possibilities are endless
Once you start using these path lights for other things, you will begin seeing new uses for them in every ordinary object. You can use a solar path light in the top of a jar filled with seaglass or coloured glass marbles to make a lantern. You place some solar powered string lights inside a globe for lamp post to create a glowing orb for your garden. You can even place a solar light in the top of your Jack-o-lantern for a safe, low cost, solar-lit pumpkin for Halloween. The only two ingredients you really need to upcycle solar LED lights is sunshine and imagination.