Introduction: Home-made Sun Jar (BFG Dream Jar)

Picture of Home-made Sun Jar (BFG Dream Jar)

A solar-powered LED lighted cookie jar reminiscent of the Sun Jar designed by Tobias Wong.

"Jam jars store jam, the Sun jar collects and stores sunshine so that you can use it at night."
Pass around the sunshine, Sunshine. (_)v

1. Ikea glass jar (AUD$3.00)
2. Solar garden light (AUD$10.00)
3. rechargeable battery (AA size)
4. Blu-tack
5. Tracing paper

1. screwdriver
2. Utility Knife
3. Glass Frosting spray

Step 1: Bringing Them Together

Picture of Bringing Them Together

Step A:
Rip open the innards of the solar garden light. I know that may sound ambiguous but you'd be able to use a utility knife and surgically dissect the relevent components out (see image). Solar garden lights are easily available at your local major hardware store. If you're in Australia, try Dick Smith Powerhouse.

Step B:
Flip open the ikea jar and place the "solar garden light innards" as shown in the picture. Use blu-tack to keep it all together. Feel free to play around with the placements so the components would fit snuggly into the jar.

Step C:
Cut a strip of tracing paper and place it in the glass jar.
Use a Glass Frosting spray .

Step D:
Close the lid of the glass jar with tender care and you're done.

Step 2: Charging and Usage

Picture of Charging and Usage

1.The light sensing diode on top of the jar should cause the LED to light up once ambient light diminishes below a certain threshold.

2.Keep the jar by a window with strong sunlight to charge the rechargeable batteries via the solar panel.

3. Enjoy your home-made sun jar or give it away as a cool gift.


n00d135 (author)2008-02-17

if you are in the uk B&Q; do a pack of 2 solar lanterns for £4 but many petrol stations have them for dirt cheap as "promotions". if you fill the jar with glass beads there is no need to fix the components to the jar as they just sit buried in the beads. also colored beads would give a nice effect. i've found the solar panels to be crap behind glass (window or jar). open the lid and stick it outside if you want to use it that night. i guess the windows block some vital part of the spectrum either uv or ir which the solar panels may make use of. nice instructable, creative not complex! (the best kind)

Fenwick (author)n00d1352009-07-10

I used a mason jar, with great results. Mine's a bit more janky though, the solar panel sticks out the top, but I like it. It's a personal touch.

bastion72 (author)2008-07-12

I made a few of these. I used some glass beads as well. Be aware that darker colors do not let out as much light. I stuck with clear or light blue. Frosted glass beads look great too. This are how mine turned out:

thepelton (author)bastion722009-02-18

If your light is inside surrounded by glass beads or marbles, you could find already frosted marbles to give you a more dispersed light, and not have to sandblast anything.

Derek9Three (author)2006-12-16

I made a couple of these and planed on making more as christmas gifts but... Is anybody else having problems with the batteries barely lasting? I know it gets dark early but I'm home by 6 usually and mine are already out by then. I bought new batteries and have had the same results on 2 of them. And the window I put them in usually burns the leaves of plants it gets so much sun.

cre8tor (author)Derek9Three2006-12-17

Yep having the same problem too. Might need to leave them out in the sun. Worked fine for me after that. 5-6 hours of power.

Derek9Three (author)cre8tor2006-12-19

I think actually it was the lights I had. I just bought new ones that work much better (all night), were cheaper ($24 for 4) and they fit better in the jar. Because the new ones I got are round I cut out the outer shell of the light so it is a hollow tube shape and placed it in the jar first. The guts of the light sit on top of it and the lid of the jar holds it all together so there is no need for the blue tack.

Parmzilla (author)Derek9Three2007-06-05

Hey Derek, What brand were the lights that you bought, and how long did they last? One link said to use Malibu Brand Solar Garden Lights, but they don't seem to fit as nicely as yours do.

Derek9Three (author)Parmzilla2007-06-05

Hampton Bay

I bought this 4 pack at home depot, they fit nice and snug when you cut off all the excess plastic.

alezavala (author)Derek9Three2007-06-15

Hi, can you tell me the size of the glass jar or the lights? there is no Ikea where I live and I don't know where to find the jar... any help? thanks

Yerboogieman (author)alezavala2008-01-12

i just got a candle at safeway that was already frosted

awang8 (author)Yerboogieman2009-01-06

How can you frost a candle?

Yerboogieman (author)awang82009-01-07

Are you serious?

awang8 (author)Yerboogieman2009-01-08

Like... It's a big stick of wax with a stringy thing in the middle... Don't you mean frosted jars?

Yerboogieman (author)awang82009-01-09

No. i meant, there's candles. yes? well, they come in jars....okay? that just happen to be frosted...OH MY GOSH!!! I THINK, WAIT, YEP! A LOT OF CANDLES COME IN JARS, SOME ARE FROSTED!! MAGIC HUH?

awang8 (author)Yerboogieman2009-01-10

Candles... Jars? I've seen candles in pots but not in jars.

Derek9Three (author)alezavala2007-06-16

The mouth of the jar is just under 3.5 in dia. and it is about that high too without the lid. I looked all over for a jar near me but ended up having to get it at Ikea almost an hour away.

alezavala (author)Derek9Three2007-06-16

thank you, i will keep looking, the closest ikea in my case is three hours away... but thanks again

nlarossa (author)Derek9Three2008-12-09

Sorry if this was already answered, but what was the brand name of the lights you found at home depot? And any additional information that might help them be found? Thanks!

rdietiker (author)Derek9Three2008-11-14

Derek, Were did you purchase your lights from? Thanks!

arepepe (author)rdietiker2008-11-24

you can gethem in like home depot or loes or like any hardware stor!

awang8 (author)arepepe2008-11-29

In Aussie you can get 'em at Bunnings or Dick Smith Electronics or (I think) Big W and K-Mart.

ilovetea (author)Derek9Three2007-11-05

I read your responses but could not find the type of lights you used. Could you give me the link or the name of the lights? Much appreciation

cre8tor (author)Derek9Three2006-12-20

Sweeeeet! Man, yellow/amber lights makes it looks so much better. Well done.

jaysen (author)2008-01-26

Thanks! Great instructable and a great gift girlfriend loved them! The only difference I did was to put in clear glass stones instead of the tracing paper or glass frosting. It took a little work to move the stones to hide the jar's internal wires from obvious sight but the end result was great! I just got the stone in the glass/vase area at Wal-Mart for a couple bucks. Here's a couple pics of the final product:

wwilke (author)jaysen2008-01-30

where did you get your LEDs?

jaysen (author)wwilke2008-01-30

I got the solar lights from Home Depot...I'm pretty sure they're Hampton Bay. I just got the plastic ones in the four pack for $20. I also forgot to mention that I replaced the cheap rechargeable batteries that came in the set with some Energizer 2500 NiMH that I picked up at made the lights glow brighter and longer. They added about a couple bucks to the total cost of each jar but I still estimated mine at about $12 each.

rdietiker (author)jaysen2008-11-14

Jaysen, I read that you got the Solar lights at Home Depot and you thought they were Hampton Bay, I don't know alot about solar lights, is there anyway you can give me an idea what theses look like or how I can explain to the clerk at Home Depot what actual type I'm looking for. I went on their website and could only find solar lighting with post. Does the solar light go in the center of the jar and the glass beads around it. Thanks for your help!

jaysen (author)rdietiker2008-11-14

Here is a link to the exact light that I used in my project: Hampton Bay Solar Light

Hopefully that'll help....they're usually in the gardening section near all those other lawn ornaments. They are the type with the post but I unscrewed most of the plastic bits off and was left with the solar panel and battery part.

I liked using this exact brand of solar light because if used with the jars from Ikea the solar panel with fit perfectly within the top lip of the jar. I filled that jar with the glass beads first and left a little crater of space on top because the battery can sit right on them and the panel goes right over that (see pictures). So essentially the light fits into the center of the jar from the top.

Good luck!

wwilke (author)jaysen2008-01-31

sweet, thanks i went to home depot but i could not find them there, they might be an old model or something they were hard to find, i bought Malibu's amber ones, not sure how bright they are yet i have to pick up my jar... but you said the 2500 increased the brightness and duration? then i guess I'll have to pick up one of those...anyways thanks for the info. On another note does anyone one here know the amount of power that is generated by the the solar panels... on average i guess each brand could be different, i was considering adding more leds to the same panel, but was curious how much that would effect the draw (double i assume?) and if it did affect the draw would i need to add another battery, and as such would adding another battery effect the board that controls the lights...i believe AA's are 1.2 volts... does including two AA increase the voltage, or does double the batteries have no effect on the potential difference? obviously i am worried that including two will short the board. thanks.

mcgyver (author)wwilke2008-05-11

Each LED draws about 20mA on the average. Different LEDs require different voltages. Ultrabright white leds usually needs about 3.4v if I remember it correctly. Reds and Blue LEDs need lower voltages. You need to put a resistor in series with the LED you wanted to add. The value depends on the LED and the voltage it needs to drop to ensure that the LED received the correct voltage and current.

cloner (author)jaysen2008-02-03

cool! what makes the yellow color of the light? :D tnx

jaysen (author)cloner2008-02-04

The pack of lights I got were already amber/yellow, so no modifications were needed for the LEDs...just check the box before you buy. It just so happened that the cheapest box I could find was also the color I wanted. Its all just depends if you want to make sun jars (amber) or moon jars (bluish).

horselover1324 (author)jaysen2008-06-22

how big those jar you have.

lovemetal1 (author)jaysen2008-06-10

what kind of light did you use its super bright?

Phoghat (author)jaysen2008-05-30

I liked the original idea Jaysen, but adding the clear glass stones is kewl. I have a crapload of multicolored glass bits that are usually used on the bottom of an aquarium and I'm going to try those. It should be easier to hide the wires as the bits are smaller than the stones.

hogzilla (author)jaysen2008-05-12

WOW.. The evolution of INSTRUCTABLES!!! SUPER-NEATO!! Great idea! Thank-you!

tintin (author)jaysen2008-03-05



killbulletbill (author)jaysen2008-01-30

Whoa. Nice.

galyon94 (author)2008-04-23

Good Instructable!
I've done tree from the Slom (IKEA : 1.5€ ~2$) and solar garden light (10 for 20€ ~27$).
The middle hasn't filter (from the other similar instructable)

Thanks for this birthday's idea =D

tobiko (author)2007-12-23

My set of 6, really like how they turned out, gonna look great in my dorm-room.

dgs (author)2007-11-10
Just finished making one myself. It's a really nice thing to have or to give somebody as a gift :)

Imperialist (author)2007-09-19

Kudos to the author of this project, it cost me about $32 bucks total for materials to make 4 sun jars. The lights I bought were Malibu brand garden lights but couldn't gut them easily since the wires were soldered and stuck to the plastic base of the lights. I knew it would be hard to find any cheaper lights (these were $15 for 4) so decided to saw the plastic bits off w/ a saw I had from taking metalsmithing class in college. They turned out pretty awesome but the amber colored leds are probably what I'd use if I were to make some more. Thanks again cre8tor Y-.-Y

mhespenh (author)2007-03-06

Really great idea, thank you! Here is mine, I added some frost stars around the outside, and a sun on the lid, it worked out pretty well, thanks!

cre8tor (author)mhespenh2007-04-13

You know, I want to see someone make a wall outta them! How cool would that be!

richelton (author)mhespenh2007-04-13

These are very pretty. I like the idea of mixing new (LEDs) and old styles.

Obstinatus (author)2006-12-01

Love the instructable. I made two SunJars last night. Instead of using the squat glass jars I chose to use Plastic Jars. I'm planning on using these for camping and float trips so plastic works better. It floats! One problem the frost in a jar sucks. How can I etch a plastic jar?

Mit (author)Obstinatus2006-12-24

you should be able to get a nice 'frost' effect on your plastic by scrubbing it with a scotch-bright pad (non-metalic pot scrubber) That how I frost plexiglass.

cre8tor (author)Obstinatus2006-12-03

Post some pictures, would really love to see how it turned out.

Obstinatus (author)cre8tor2006-12-03

I made both of these Sun Jars from clear plastic swing top jars I found at Hobby Lobby for 2.99. I have finished etching one jar. It was actually very easy with just some fine grain sandpaper. I tried to etch as little as possible to allow the most amount of light threw. I also did not etch the bottom of the jar as this makes it a handy flash light when walking out into the woods to take a slash in the middle of the night.

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