Solar Light Hack

We wanted a solar powered light over our new entrance arbor. The problem is that most of the lights available are just plain ugly. And the solar panels on the cheaper models are usually mounted on the light itself making it impossible to place them in a shady spot.

I came up with a simple solution. First, I bought an inexpensive solar light intended to be mounted on a fence. I took it apart and desoldered the LEDs off the circuit board. Next, I soldered four wires to the former connections to the two LEDs. Basically, I created a extension cord to the LEDs. I mounted the LEDs on a small scrap circuit board and soldered the ends of the wires to them.

What I ended up with is a battery and solar power unit connected by wire to two LEDs that I could place in a more attractive enclosure. We had a candle lamp that Mrs. Homegrown found on the street that worked perfectly, but we could have used just about any fixture. We could now place the solar panel in a sunny location on top of the entrance arbor and then hang the light underneath.

Next on my agenda is to create lights from scratch that flicker like candles.

Here’s a primer on working with LEDs. Note that LEDs have positive and negative legs, so if you hack a solar light, remember to connect up the LEDs respecting the polarity.

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10 Comments

  1. Eric -

    Home Depot/Costco/Target already has the flickering LED Tiki Torches. They work great- we’ve had a dozen running in our back yard for over 3 years. All you need to do is replace the rechargeable AA batts every few years.

    Btw, love the eBook.

    -Eddie W.

  2. This is one of the coolest posts I’ve seen you guys do yet!

    And I really like your entrance arbor. I want one for the front of my house, and this looks simple enough for me to make myself, so I am going to borrow heavily, i.e., steal your design, okay?

  3. That is awesome. I have a bunch of old outdoor solar lights hanging around. Their rechargeable batteries are dead, and as you say they are ugly, but I’ve been scheming about what project to make from them. I love this. I might take it to another level though, and wire the solar panels to charge a big 6 or 12 volt battery and then wire up a bunch of white LEDs all over the place indoors and outdoors.

  4. I just wish I knew how to do this, soldering and such. It is absolutely the best post! All the cheap solar lights are so ugly. The pretty ones are too expensive. This may solve a problem if I have a friend who can make sense of the directions and do a conversion for me. I heart your blog!

  5. Why is it so hard to find a nice looking solar light? Hey entrepreneurs!: There is a an opening a mile wide for a line of beautiful outdoor solar lights

  6. Pingback: Arduino Homesteading Projects | Root Simple

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