You can buy solar lights for less than a buck, but let’s face it: the cute ones cost four or five times that. My solution? Buy the cheap ones; then, dress them up.
When I first got the idea to do this four years ago, I shopped thrift stores and yard sales for interesting glass containers that I could put over top of the solar lights.
Here are some examples from those early efforts:
This one is sporting a votive candle holder that I found at a yard sale.
This one is wearing a light sconce.
It works especially well, since it has an open top.
And this one is rocking a vintage punch cup.
I picked up all of these solar light “shades” at yard sales for a quarter or less, so it was definitely an affordable makeover, and I found they worked really well.
This year I decided to up my game, and make some solar lanterns for my garden. I’m even more excited about the way these turned out.
Here’s one that I made from a sconce.
And here’s one that I made from a light globe.
To make them, I just bought some cheap solar lights that were big enough to cover the opening of my sconces and globes. I found that those little $1 cheapies fit the sconces perfectly, and that the bigger ones you’d normally pay around $3 for fit the light globes perfectly.
Since I only needed the solar panel and light portion of the solar lights, I looked for ones where the top could be separated from the body of the light. Let me show you what I mean …
Both of these lights have screw-off tops. There’s a small solar panel on the top, and a little LED light on the underside. That’s all you need for this project. Some of the lights that I looked at had tops that couldn’t be separated from the globe portion of the light. You don’t want those.
I spent a bunch of time studying all the options at various stores, and ended up buying my lights for the sconces at Walmart for $.97 a piece. They’re made by Mainstays. I bought my larger lights for the light globes at Target. They were $3 each, or $2.50 each, if you bought a boxed set of six. They’re made by Room Essentials. Just sharing a couple options that worked for me, in the interest of saving you some time. The designs may be completely different next year, but for now, these are good options.
To make my globes, I just used a bit of E6000 to glue the solar light over the opening of the sconce/globe. Once they were dry, I added a wire handle to each one. Since I didn’t want my handles to rust, I used 16-gauge galvanized wire that I found at Tractor Supply. I paid $9 for a big, 200-foot spool of the stuff (they also had smaller, cheaper spools available).
Tip: Be sure to pull the little tab to activate the light before you glue it to the top of a light globe. I may have forgotten that step on one of mine.
My neighbor gave me some tiki torches a couple months back. I decided to turn them into solar lights, too.
I had to buy bigger solar lights to fit the top. They were $3.72 at Walmart.
I can’t wait to see how they look tonight.
I have a few more solar projects in the works. I’ll be sharing them soon.
More Solar Projects