Light Up Rock Wall Stairwell, With Solar Lights

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Introduction: Light Up Rock Wall Stairwell, With Solar Lights

Solar garden lights are designed to be shoved into the dirt along a sidewalk path, like spikes. I wanted to illuminate the stairwell of my rock wall, at my Civil War-era farmhouse. This shows how I did it, with cheap, but bright Westinghouse solar lights - $4/each, at Wal-Mart.

Step 1: Remove the Rod on the Bottom

This is one of those $4 Westinghouse solar lights. You don't need the stake on the bottom, just the top part, which contains the solar cell, battery, light and lens. I had to doctor the picture below - basically remove the stake and save it for something else.

Step 2: Bend the Wire Into a Ring, With Legs

See the black line in the picture? That is some thick galvanized wire, ten inches long. You could also use thick copper wire, like home electrical wire, but really, crackheads will steal any copper they see, so why invite that? Plus, grey wire will blend in with concrete. This wire is the thickness of coat hanger wire, but you should use galvanized wire, so that it doesn't rust, like a coat hanger would. If it rusts, you might get rust stains going down your wall.

I bent the wire into a circle (a ring), a little wider than the clear plastic lens (tube) that surrounds the LED light, then out an inch on each side, and then bent a leg out, on each side. Then I just stuck the light's cylindrical clear lens inside the ring, with the legs sticking out to the side.

NOTE: Although the picture shows a perfect circle in the ring, I made the ring a litle more oval than a perfect circle, so that the lens would friction-fit (so it would stay tight) inside the ring.

Step 3: Insert Legs in Crack Between Rocks

See the legs? I stuck them inside a crack between the old rocks in the wall. I lifted the rock above it up, and stuck the legs under the rock, so that the leg would have some weight on top of them. That will keep the wind from blowing it out. Then I stuck it right up against the rock.

That's it! You are done! Do this for each light. I did four; two on each side.

Step 4: Right Side View

Here are the lights on the right side of the step. See, there was no place to drive the stakes into, anyway; it is just 100-year old rocks everywhere here.

Step 5: Left Side View

Here are the two lights on the left side of the step. You can also see the old wrought-iron gate to the left. The gate is just sitting there, leaning against the stairwell wall, because the hinge pins rusted out, but we don't care. It looks rustic, and we would never shut the gate anyway.

That's it - I just wanted to light up the steps - they are very crooked, and it is quite difficult to walk up them in the dark. I don't have a picture of the steps lit up in the dark - I forgot to take a picture after dark, but it is nice and bright.

Our farmhouse is ~143 years old, and I don't know how old the stairwell is - I have a picture of the house from 1911, which shows the steps. Anyway, the steps are at least 100 years old.

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19 Comments

What a fantastic idea....plus it adds that "candlestick" look to the wall....no light sockets in the civil war, eh? Thanks for the idea.....my mind is thinking of so many uses!! ????

This is what the lights look like at night - note that it is very difficult to take a picture at night, even though you can see, because our eyes are better than cameras. The lights are quite bright, and without the stakes on them, they look like "custom" wall lights.

Rock Wall Lights At Night.JPG

thank you for the night shot ,i have a circular stone wall i made ,i have to back around every morning,now i will be able to make it much more visable at four a.m.

You inspired me, I am in the process of building a rock wall and last week I came across your instructable, here are some photo's with my twist

IMGP2085.JPGIMGP2087.JPGIMGP2086.JPGIMGP2084.JPG

Fantastic idea. Thanks for taking the time to make & post an instructable. You've given me some ideas for using those lights around my home in areas where a stake wasn't practicle.

Instead of making an oval shape ring, what you could do is make a circle that is a little smaller then the lens(tube) so that the tube is pushing outwards in the circle...you have the same result

I'm having a hard time finding the lights at Walmart. Any chance you could provide a part number? Great Idea BTW !!!!

There are crates (literally) of them in the lawn and garden section.

I love solar garden lights - a solar panel, a bunch of LEDs, a light sensor , AA battery and a charging circuit...what else could you want in a dirt-cheap consumer electronic? If you're gonna be re-wiring them, why not put the panels on top of the stones making up the staircase walls? You could run the wires down through one of the cracks then along the wires holding it in, so it wouldn't be much more visible, and you'd have the benefit of a much wider arc of sunlight, which could more than double your power without any more panels.