Five Solar Garden Light Upcycle Ideas

The sun is the greatest source of renewable energy we have and solar garden lights are a dime a dozen. So its no wonder, more and more people are finding useful second lives for these innocuous contraptions. Here are five amazing do-it-yourself projects that turn ordinary solar garden lights into cool eco-friendly gadgets you'll use everyday.

Before getting started, check out this great solar yard light deconstruction tutorial from Marshal Brian, founder of Howstuffworks.com, which clearly illustrates the parts, functions, and inner workings of a typical solar garden light.


1. Solar Powered USB Ipod/Cell Phone Charger
This Instructable shows how surprisingly simple it is to make a solar battery charger from very simple components. If you are looking for something universal, check out the video below from WonderHowTo.com showing how to turn an ordinary solar garden light into a renewable energy backup system for today's power hungry cell phones, Ipods, and gaming gadgets.



2. Bottle the Sun's renewable energy
Jam jars store jam, the Sun Jar collects and stores sunshine so that you can use it at night or to recharge batteries. Check out the Sun Jar from Suck.uk.com, then head over to Instructables for a step-by-step on how to bottle your own. If you have solar path lights and live in a cold climate where they don't get much use in the winter, this is an easy and efficient way to keep rechargeable batteries topped off and well maintained while not in use.




3. Architectural and decorative lighting
This is a simple thing you can do with a set of solar path lights to turn them into portable lanterns or retrofit existing outdoor lamp posts to use renewable energy. Here is another idea that uses the solar light circuit to suck every last bit of energy out of otherwise dead alkaline batteries before disposal. Makes a great night light.





4. Sports equipment
This simple project converts two solar garden lites and some PVC into a pocket sized LED solar powered lamps that can be used as a night/comfort light or reading lamp. The finished lamp is water proof, will float and will last virtually forever, making them great for camping. Modify a solar garden walkway light into a solar powered bike light that charges during day riding and can be turned on at night!



5. Renewable Energy Power Plant
This is a Solar Power Plant made from recycled parts. It is a work in progress that started at the landfill where you'll find all kinds of interesting electronics gadgets ready to be harvested for project parts. The cells charge a 12V car battery which is used to supply 120V through an off-the shelf inverter for light loads. Makes an excellent power supply for laptops, lights, or radios during power outs. Use it run an outdoor lighting system or plug it into this universal charger and turn in those crappy chargers that came with your gadgets for a more environmentally friendly, cheaper solution.

Winter is a good time to hunt for bargains on solar lights. When shopping for a solar garden light its a good idea to look for ones that have two or more AA Ni-Cad batteries and a photo resistor for detecting darkness. More batteries generally means the circuit can provide higher output for your projects and a photo resistor will allow you to incorporate light sensing into your gadgets if needed.

There are so many ways to hack a solar light and I've only mentioned a few. In an upcoming post I'll take a look at some additional ideas of incorporating solar lights with other off the shelf items to create even more interesting, functional, and eco-friendly gadgets. Thanks for stopping by.

20 comments:

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  2. hi good day nice outdoor lamps , lantern you have . nice posting to . i learned a lot of info bout this . i hope that i have one in my patio besides my wind spinner and wind chimes perfect combination . i hope i can read more about your posting . till next time thanks and have a nice day!

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