I love my solar lights, as I've documented here and there on this site, particularly those that I put in jars and bottles. I've had this oversize glass cookie jar cluttering up my counter space for years, and when we decided to get rid of it, I figured I'd repurpose it instead of sending it off to the Goodwill. With a quick trip to the dollar store, a bit of cutting and soldering, and some liberal application of silicone caulk, I built a giant sun jar with the power of SEVEN normal jars!
Step 1: Gather Materials
To build your own Giant Sun Jar, you'll need:
- Several dollar store solar lights
- A big jar of some sort
- Various LEDs
- Speaker wire
- Silicone caulk
- Glass frosting spray
Step 2: Harvest and Prepare LEDs
If you don't already have some LEDs lying around, or if you want some specialty LEDs, you can harvest them from electronics. I have a good supply, but I wanted a couple of color changing LEDs, so I took them out of some keychains I got at the dollar store.
Whether you get them from old electronics or have them on hand, you'll probably need to diffuse them by buffing with sand paper, or use hot glue to do the job.
Step 3: Extract Components from Lights
Solar garden lights are great, but when you're building sun jars from them, you don't need the whole thing. I usually save all the components, but really all you need for this instructable is the battery and clip, circuit board, and solar panel. Trim everything else away and either save it for a future project, or recycle it.
Step 4: Change LEDs and Add Wire
Almost without fail, solar lights come with a white LED. It's a simple matter of a snip of the leads, the addition of some speaker wire, and swapping out the white LED for a different color to change all that. Make sure you're soldering positive to positive, and make sure you test before you call it done! Since there will be so many of these, it wouldn't hurt to wrap the exposed leads in electrical tape or heat shrink tubing.
Step 5: Frost the Jar
Make a couple of coats of glass frosting spray on the interior of the jar. It's a good idea to do this outside, the wind will help air circulate and make the paint dry quicker, and also you won't be breathing paint fumes.
Step 6: Install in Lid
The next step is to place all of the solar panels, circuit boards, and batteries in the lid. This is pretty straightforward, just make sure the glass is clean and none of the panels overlap. Tack it all in place with hot glue. The LEDs on their wires should dangle out the bottom.
Step 7: Glue in Place
Normally I use epoxy for this, but I was all out. I used the same silicone I used to seal the jar, and it's worked out fine. I just liberally spread it over everything, to make sure nothing fell out!
I had some trouble getting it to dry, so I ended up placing a small computer fan on top of the lid to blow air in. It was cured and ready to go by morning!
Step 8: Seal Jar
Run a thick bead of silicone around the edge of the jar and drop in the wires. When you press the lid into place, you can then remove any excess caulk with a finger or towel.
The seal seems to work best if you put the jar in front of a heat source while it cures. Most of the time, in my experience the seal fails on hot days when the air inside the jar heats up and the caulk releases from the pressure, so if the jar is warm when the seal is made, it's less likely to fail later on.
Step 9: Charge!
Put your Giant Sun Jar out with your regular sun jars (try not to get them in its shadow!) and let it charge for a day. Almost done!
Step 10: Glow!
Once the sun sets, you'll bask in the multicolored glow of your massive, seven times as powerful as normal Giant Sun Jar!
Step 11: Final Thoughts
Thanks for stopping by! I think my next project should be to find a REALLY GIANT jar of some sort (bigger than me, perhaps, or maybe a white fifty gallon drum).
Please take a minute to comment, follow, thumbs up, share, etc etc etc. I love hearing back from my readers!
Finally, if you should build an oversize sun jar of your own, post some pictures below of it next to a normal sized jar, and I'll send you a digital patch and a 3 month pro membership!