Introduction: Solar Chandeliers
Add a little whimsical glow to your garden or outdoor space by repurposing an old (or new) indoor light fixture.
Using low-cost solar path lights, you can store the energy from the sun's rays by day and enjoy their benefit at night with this easy DIY.
Step 1: Salvage or Source a Chandelier
While visiting the clearance section of our favorite nursery and garden supply, I came across these $3 brass-finish chandeliers last winter.
I had no idea what I wanted to use them for, but $3 for a light fixture was too good a bargain to pass up, so I purchased the four they had...plus one larger model for an extra $10.
Your local thrift store likely offers similar fixtures at reasonable prices.
Being new, mine needed some assembly. I decided not to use the enclosed chain.
Step 2: Paint the Chandelier As Desired.
I've seen some of these solar chandeliers painted in bright, pretty colors for a very whimsical look.
However, I decided to paint mine black because I want them to "disappear" during the day. Additionally, the stake lights I purchased were already black, so I liked saving a little extra work for this "quickie" outdoor craft.
Paint them in whatever way works for you: I laid mine on the ground and painted the bottoms with spray paint; let dry; flipped 'em over; and painted the tops.
Then, to make sure I didn't miss a spot, I hung them from a swingset and touched up any remaining peeks of shiny brass.
Step 3: Prepare the Solar Stake/path Lights for Use
I picked up these stake lights at a big box store for less than $1 each. I've used these in the past for path lighting and liked the star shaped glow that was cast from the clear textured shades.
These lights are not exceedingly bright, so if you're looking for stronger illumination, I might consider using lights with a brighter output. I was using these for ambiance, so they worked well for my purposes.
Remove the tab that interrupts the connection to the battery compartment and replace the cap back on the light.
Pull off the stake (and if you think of some way to repurpose it, kindly share in the comments section.)
Step 4: Glue the Light to the Chandelier
There are several ways to attach the light to the chandelier: Some people remove the posts on the chandelier and glue the lights directly to the cups. Others glue the light into the bulb sockets.
I chose to keep the post covers on the chandelier and glue the light directly to the post cover.
Here's why: The electrical sockets in my fixture used narrow base bulbs and were too narrow to accommodate the solar "stem." So, I slid the covers up a little (see the first photo in this step). If that little gap bothers you, you can either cover it with electrical tape (which I did for one of my chandeliers as shown in the second photo), spray paint the exposed hardware, or leave it as is because no one is likely to notice when they're hanging in your yard.
Use outdoor strength glue (I used E-6000) and run a layer of glue around the stem of the light. As you can see, you don't have to be very fussy (or neat).
Hold the light in place for about 20 seconds until it is secure. The glue instructions suggest allowing it to set for 24 to 72 hours.
Step 5: Charge the Lights and Hang As Desired
Set the lights in the sun and allow the solar lights to charge, ideally, for about 12 hours before the first use.
Then hang them as desired. For mine, I cut the electrical wire from the chandelier and wound it around tree branches. I left a loop on the end that was large enough to fit the top ring from the chandelier, and the weight of the light keeps it from slipping out.
Alternatively, you could use hooks or some other method.
You DO want them easily removable so you can bring them back into the sun for recharging.
Step 6: Let the Built in Sensors Do Their Job
The only thing left to do, is wait for dusk and enjoy.
I am including several photos to show how well they work from a distance and even before it gets fully dark.
But once night falls, you can enjoy the gentle lights even more, knowing that they're powered by no-cost, renewable energy.