How to make jar lights

Salvage old solar lights with this easy project

By Liann BobechkoLiann Bobechko


Photo by Laura Arsié

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After a few years of baking in the sun and being exposed to winter’s cold, the plastic bodies of solar-powered garden lights tend to fade and crack. Salvage the guts by putting them into flip-top, wide-mouthed sealer jars with clear lids, and adding your own touch of personality.

You can place these easy-to-build lights outside or even indoors, in an unwired bunkie or outhouse, say. Use them when the power’s out or when you simply want to lend mood and character to the evening.

What you’ll need:

  • Flip-top sealer jars with clear lids
  • Solar-powered garden lights
  • Clear packing tape
  • Translucent decorative tissue or rice paper

1. Disassemble each garden light by carefully cutting the panel and light sensor away from the plastic lantern casing, being sure not to cut any wires. You may be able to score the plastic with a utility knife and snap clean edges; otherwise use snips. Discard the lantern body, keeping the electronic workings and light-diffusing collar.

2. Line each jar with a cylinder of tissue or rice paper, cutting vertical slits at the corners, or where the jar tapers, for a better fit, if needed.

3. Affix the light sensor and solar panel (with the bulb and light-diffusing collar attached underneath) in the mouth of the jar with packing tape so both will be exposed to the sun.

4. Charge in daylight and, come nightfall, bask in the glow of lamplight.

This article was originally published on January 25, 2011

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