10 Useful and Crafty DIY Solar Lighting Ideas

June 14, 2017 1 Comment

solar lighting ideas

Gone are the old days of traditional incandescent lighting: it's not only very energy-consuming but bulky and often unattractive.

And even energy-efficient options, like halogen lights and LEDs, are losing ground due to their newer, cooler cousin: solar lighting. 

Perfect for off-the-grid and tiny house living as well as expansive suburban developments, solar lighting is an easy and low-cost way to reduce your home energy consumption. 

Solar lighting is also cord- and wire-free, meaning fewer trips and falls around the house. You only need to place the lights somewhere sunny. There will be no need to plug into any outlets to the wall as solar lighting deploys a low voltage technology.

Solar lighting is even changing lives across the globe, reducing energy costs for lower-income families and providing alternate energy sources in places where sunshine is an ample commodity. Most developed country are fully powered with a very stable supply of electricity for homes and businesses, but many Third World countries do not have the sufficient power infrastructure to distribute electricity to everyone within their borders. 

You can bring this fun and energy-efficient trend into your own home with just a few easy ideas. Easy to install and DIY, solar lighting is a home improvement option that you can't overlook. 

Below are ten useful and crafty DIY solar lighting ideas that may be worth looking into.

1. Mason jar hanging lights


Place a small, portable solar light into the base of a classic mason jar, and secure with heat-safe glue.

Wrap cord or twine around the mason jar. If you prefer a rustic look, traditional twine is a great option. But if you prefer something a little brighter or fun, there are endless options for colored or glittering cord and rope. 

Either way, ensure that your twine holds the jar tightly, in case a small breeze comes up.

Hang your mason jar lights from a tree, deck ceiling, or in lieu of string lights spread over a patio. No matter your outdoor lighting plans, remember to always follow these four objectives when considering your outdoor lighting plans.

2. Tin can solar lanterns

Choose a tin can from around the house or at the craft store. This can be something meaningful - like a fancy coffee can from your honeymoon - or something boring that you'd like to paint.

Place a small solar light at the base of the can, and set it anywhere you'd like to incorporate cozy, energy-efficient lighting.

Also, consider using a hammer and nail to poke out fun designs - hearts, stars, sun rays, or initials. 

3. Arrange solar lights in a succulent plant display

Amid a nest of cacti or other succulent plants, solar lights can make a beautiful, shadowy display. 

Place solar lights on a shelf with potted plants or, if the plant is large enough, directly inside and around the plant itself. 

Who says you need a green thumb to "wow" guests?

4. Go solar with your holiday decor

Place solar lights at the top of a jack-o-lantern in lieu of a lit candle, or set inside orange paper lanterns alongside a walkway on Halloween night.

If you have a holiday wreath in a sunny area, incorporate a few solar lights into the center of it (perhaps behind a monogrammed initial to create a shadowy effect.)

Lastly: ditch those old holiday lights. You know, the kind where one goes out and then the entire string is useless. Consider investing in solar holiday lights. Fewer cords = fewer holiday frustrations. 

5. Home address sign inside a shadow box

Shadow boxes are extra-deep, meaning you could place your home address numbers at the front and a solar light somewhere within the box - illuminating the numbers.

Don't be surprised if your neighbors drive by twice, envious of your creative style.

6. Re-purpose an indoor lamp with solar lights

Indoor lamps already have a wide-open space at the top of the lampshade: why not drop in a solar light and set it outside?

This brings a unique feel to your outdoor spaces, whether it's a front porch or backyard dance floor. 

Don't forget to consider colored lampshades for an interesting or romantic vibe. Red lampshades underneath a starry sky? That's a second date waiting to happen.

7. Mason jar stationary lights 

Similar to the hanging lights above, but these are meant to be set onto a hard surface. It's essentially a votive holder.

Think stone walkways leading to the house, or an old picnic table for an evening cocktail party.

Consider placing rocks or stones into the base of the jar (underneath the solar light) for stability.

Also, who says you can't leave the votive solar lights outside all day and then bring them inside at night? Perfect for off-the-grid homes, this is one way to bring natural light indoors once the sun has gone down.

8. Wooden votive holders

If you recently cut down a tree or have some unused wood laying around in the backyard (who doesn't?) then consider re-purposing into solar light votive holders. Simply sand or saw down the wood to give it a flat surface on either end. Place a votive on top or, if you're really handy with power tools, drill a small nook into the wood to hold the votive.

So rustic, yet so simple.

If you like the wooden look and want to check out indoor options, too, do so here.

9. Create a border around bodies of water

This could be a small pond, a birdbath, or - best yet - a pool. The ambiance will naturally draw people to the water, and the reflection will be stunning, guaranteed.

You may even find that your guests want to take a dip!

10. Outdoor night lights and security lights

Tired of bumping your shin on the garbage can as you fumble your way in the dark? Us, too. 

Solar night lights - easily stuck onto the side of the house or underneath an awning - can stay on all night, or even be motioned-triggered which may be a crime deterrent, too. 

Affordable and easy-to-install, you could also place solar lights near mailboxes, doorbells, or outdoor dog houses.

The options are endless. Solar lighting can serve not only the need for more light in a given area, but it can also provide a burst of color or ambiance to a backyard space. 

For those living off-the-grid, solar lighting is a no-brainer: there is simply no easier way to obtain inexpensive, energy-efficient lighting. 

What's your next outdoor solar lighting DIY project? Let us help you with the parts needed so that you don't need to wait another day to start saving money and catching eyes with your new lighting design. 

1 Response

Mike Petersen
Mike Petersen

November 07, 2018

Looking for suitable LED ’bulb’s for Solar lighting applications. Solar panel charges 3.7V Li-ION. Do you have any suitable ‘bulbs’ for this kind of application?

You article while a pleasant read – provides no details on voltages available from off-the-shelf solar panels, their associated battery storage ‘systems’ or platforms and a selection of suitable bulbs for these various voltages.


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