Introduction: Solar Powered Night Lights

Picture of Solar Powered Night Lights

Do something useful with your solar powered garden light. Instead of lighting up the garden path at night for that opossium raiding the trash, bring the light into the house. Use it as a solar powered night light.

I mounted two garden lights on the roof with wire extensions of the leds brought into the house. Just the solar cell unit with built-in batteries are on the roof. The led (Light-Emitting-Diode) that makes the light is in the house. The solar lights are mounted on top of a swamp cooler on my roof with the wiring brought through the vent.

Step 1: Mount the Solar Lights

Picture of Mount the Solar Lights

Use 1 inch PVC tubing to make a holder for the lights. This is what the light holder looks like after construction and mounted on the cooler. But first, go get your saw and start cutting some tubing. The next step will show you how.

Step 2: Make the Light Stand

Picture of Make the Light Stand

Cut two pieces of 1 inch PVC tubing, each one foot long. Join in the middle with an elboe. Use two more elboes on the end to support the up right post (black posts included in 4 pak) for the lights. I used two lights from a 4 pak at Home Depot. Hampton Bay # 498-959 on sale at the time for $16. The black upright posts fit in the elboe perfectly.

Step 3: Remove LEDs

Picture of Remove LEDs

Remove LEDs from the lights and attach to a twisted pair of wires long enough to go down the vent into your house. I used a small connector attached to a short pair of wires coming from the light. Then connect to your longer pair. Doing so will make disconnection for servicing easy. You can use a pair of wirenuts instead of the connector.

Step 4: Attach LED

Picture of Attach LED

Attach the led to a connector or a short lenght of a twisted pair of wires. This is installed inside your house were you want your night light. I mounted my leds just poking out the vent inside the hallway of my house. Wirenuts instead of a connector can be used to connect the mounted leds to the wires brought down from the solar lights. Led is shown with short leads connected to a connector. The heat shrink tubing is unshrinked to show assembly.

Step 5: Night Light Is On

Picture of Night Light Is On

Solar Night Light (my webpage)Now when the sun goes down, the led will light up inside your house. I used two lights to make two night lights. You can use just one if you like. You can also place leds in other areas of the home.


SIRJAMES09 (author)2014-09-30

vaseline on any & all electrical connections wil stop corrosion in its tracks...

cost of vaseline is about $2 max n my area as opposed to some of the other products that run $5 to $10 per ounce....

Just a thought....

SIRJAMES09 (author)2014-09-30

so Is everything just stuck together? or did you use PVC adhesive??

antoinix (author)2013-12-13

It gave me an idea for an aluminium solar light stand with 3 poles. I needed something strong enough to hold 3 BIG solar flood lights and their respective solar panels.
Working on it.

wolfsingleton (author)2013-01-05

Love this concept, but made a couple of changes to fit my projects. Placed the solar panels inside my sun-facing window, at the very top behind the Venetian blind (so even if it is all the way up you can't see it). Put the battery pack just out of the sun and ran the wires to the closet door next to it and mounted the LEDs inside the door frame with a contact switch on the door. When the closet door is opened,lights pop on and together, the two are good enough for most days. Completely hassle-free.

botronics (author)wolfsingleton2013-08-06

I like it!

wolfsingleton (author)botronics2013-08-06

Thanks. Looking over your version again, I'm sorely tempted to give it a try. I'm thinking of doing this on my front porch, but a small adjustment. I notice that the lights are just left exposed, but I would run them right behind the actual light cover. Picked out some nice ones, and running the night light through them would avoid excess clutter and give a more professional look.

randomray (author)wolfsingleton2013-08-06

very good idea .

storre (author)2011-06-16

I want to make garden led lights using those 12v LED strip lighting. The ones I have are waterproof and use 4.8W per meter. I want to use 1 meter per light. I need to do about 20 so want to keep the parts to a minimum but all have their independent solar panels and batteries. Can you suggest a cheap way to do this? The lights I already have rolls of. I get a good amount of sunlight and just want the lights on most of the night. Maybe an auto shut off at a certain voltage so to not totally discharge the batteries.


jontj2000 (author)2010-04-23

I have a solar panel on the  outside of the south wall that goes with a set of solar rocks for a pond. I ran the wire threw the wall and put the lights over the kitchen cabinets for night lights. Free night lightning      t l

flying pie (author)2010-04-18

im going to camp a i want light in a tent and to charge a ds and phone/ labtop also power a cfl

botronics (author)2009-02-08

I was on my roof adjusting my home built UHF antenna (doesn't work for digital) for the switch over and took a look at my lighting system. The garden lights fell apart in my hands as I was removing the top. The sun has totally broken down the plastic. The black abs plastic part is still in good shape. Thats the part with the solar cells and electronics. I came up with a way of fitting the solar heads to glass canning jars. The solar head makes a nice power unit for jarred devices. Now I have a total of four broken lights with good solar heads. I wrote a blog at this link to share with the world.

lil27mike27big (author)botronics2009-06-06

Let me help you out With the plastic part here is what you need to do first is it on a stick or flat on the ground let me no then i can help you with the prob k (%)

botronics (author)lil27mike27big2009-12-31

With the lights on the ground, the sun does not hit the plastic at low angles.  When mounted up high on a roof, the plastic gets exposed to UV more. Painting or covering the clear plastic helps with this problem.

doo da do (author)2009-04-29

First solar yard light I have seen with 2 batteries.

botronics (author)doo da do2009-12-31

The newer ones have a single cell powering a Joule Thief type of circuit. One advantage with single cells is no cell reversal during over discharge. A "C" cell would give more storage capacity without the cell deep discharging every night. Meaning longer life.

Hycro (author)doo da do2009-12-31

The solar lights we have that are similar in look to those ones are two-battery setups...

lil27mike27big (author)doo da do2009-06-06

Well i am making one solar yard light and i hooked 3 panels together and hooked all 3 lights up 2 lights to the one light and then now it works great & for the batterys i am using one C.battery.

Hycro (author)2009-12-31

Lol...I was about to say..."Awful big leads on that LED, don't you think it's overkill?" then you said the heat-shrink wasn't shrunk yet...

Hycro (author)2009-12-31

Now up here where I live, where we get colder winters (with ice, snow, all that stuff, though we're getting more rain than snow every year, but still have the icy coldness) it would be advisable to have just the solar cell and the photocell on the rooftop, though as a personal choice I would have the photocell inside, near where I have the night light, so that it would come on when I need it inside, which is usually before it's needed outside.

hcold (author)2008-08-02

What's the possibility of keeping the LED with the lamp, and just using fibre optics to transfer the light into the house?

slchorne (author)hcold2008-09-04

Fibre optics would be far more expensive that a few feet of wire and some solder. you would also need a lens at the end of the fibre to disperse the light again.

botronics (author)slchorne2008-09-04

Plus you would loose some of the light from the fiber. It does not transmit 100%. Mine is still working, but the battery life is starting to fade.

hcold (author)botronics2008-09-04

Depends on the quality of the fibre you're using, doesn't it? And on how far it was going. Also, back to slchorne, you're aboslutely right about the price cost, the site I was just looking t was listing 20-30 British pounds for 2-3 metres of fibre optics, though this was telecoms grade.

GrumpyOldGoat (author)hcold2009-12-26

Call your local phone company and ask if they have some cut off pieces they will let you have.
The shortest piece I got so far is about 30' .  It has muti pairs, and rubbing alcohol cleans them up nicely.

lil27mike27big (author)botronics2009-06-06

here is the prob man i bet its the wire If its really long cuz the juice is running that far, so you just need a bigger battery so that it can run in that long wire & last longer to hope that helped you some (%)

hcold (author)slchorne2008-09-04

According to the thing I read (sorry, this was a while ago, so I can't provide the link) they just had the end of the fibre optic in an transperant acrylic end, which had been scratched (can't think of a better word for it) so the light was diffused, rather than a lens.

botronics (author)2006-09-07

A "swampcooler " is an evaperative air cooler. very commonly seen on top of homes in mobile home parks. Invented in persia, thousands of years ago.

See the wikipedia explanation on how they work.

slim_jim (author)botronics2009-06-29

Mobile homes? Here in New Mexico, where it is very dry, everybody uses swamp coolers. The extremely low humidity makes them very efficient. Around here, a typical AC unit is called "refrigerated air," and is quite uncommon.

ianb505 (author)slim_jim2009-07-30

yes jim, new mexico is stupid dry, i'm in albuquerque boing work for a plumbing company. Swamp coolers are 'replacment' air while ac use 'recycled' air. Since swamp coolers are drawing the air from outside, it's a good idea to leasve a window open to alow air to escape. While recycled air comes from inside where it is allready chilled so venting is counterproductive. almost all i've done this week is fix swampcoolers but more and more people a buying into AC.

botronics (author)2008-04-11

Its been almost 2 years and it still works. To help fight corrosion on the battery connections, put some of that grease they use on aluminum electrical connections or that red stuff that is used on auto battery connections. Nicad batteries out gas corrosive vapors over time.

lil27mike27big (author)botronics2009-06-06

thats a good idea

omkar_hummer (author)2008-05-10

can this be used on a bicycle? what voltage does it gives

yeah i just made me one for my bicycle and for night time or for when your walking in the woods at night time it works very good i hooked 3 panels up 2 lights & to 1 light hook it to the solar panel pop the battery up and now you have 3 in 1

botronics (author)omkar_hummer2008-05-10

You could use on a bicycle. Check and see how many AA nicads the night light has. You can put extra night lights in series for higher voltage. Thats 1.2v per cell.

alxram (author)2007-12-07

If you have a larger house and yard there are so many practical uses for this kind of setup. I'm sure you could hide the solar collectors in many places, and take care of all your night lighting needs. Thanks for this creative and efficient idea!

botronics (author)alxram2007-12-07

I have been having problems with the Hampton Bay plastic becoming brittle in the sun. In less than two years the plastic fell apart. Check my blog about this problem:
The solar lights are useful to power thing that have low power. I am using some to power a windharp that is broadcasting on internet radio by way of ShoutCast. Below is a link to my station. At my botsmaker blog site there is more detail how this can be done.

digitalenigma (author)botronics2009-03-25

have you tried spray painting them white or silver to reflect some of the UV rays back out?

botronics (author)digitalenigma2009-03-27

I had some silvered mylar and used that to wrap around the plastic.

Sunny124613 (author)2008-07-11

wow pretty impressive

doo da do (author)2008-04-15

I wired two of the solar panels together so there would be more miliamps sent to the batteries and the lights seem to last longer with a stronger charge

doo da do (author)doo da do2008-04-15

parrell, if you use series the voltage would go up and that may be more than the battery should recieve

botronics (author)doo da do2008-04-15

Is that series or parallel?

charleeanna (author)2008-04-10


doo da do (author)2008-03-15

I wired two solar panels from old solar yard lights in parrell and they seem to give the 1.2V battery a longer run time, a few more ma, you may want to give that a try. I do like the light inside part

bradleypowell (author)2008-02-14

There is a interesting article about using a microcontroller (atTiny11L) as a charge pump to drive LEDs in a flashlight in Nuts & Volts this month. It claims to be very efficient as it doesn't require resistors to do the current limiting. I'll tell you if it works...

Jack Daniels (author)2006-09-04

How many LED's do you think you can run off this Unit and get a good amount of Run time every night?

botronics (author)Jack Daniels2006-09-04

One led will run all night, 2 maybe 1/2 the night and so on. Each led should have a resistor to balance the sharing of the current or the lowest voltage dropping led will hog the current. Experiment! One solarligt will put out 80 milliamps from just the solarcell. Checkout my "Garden Light Autopsy" at
or my Botronics webpage at

carpespasm (author)botronics2007-12-22

also, those solar lamps often have simple nicad batteries in them, the ones I've had are usually in the range of 800ma. If you added more LEDs to the mix and higher capacity batteries you could add in as much as the solar panel can charge. (author)2006-09-06

Just what the hell is a swamp cooler?

Jollyrgr (author)ronin.ca2007-08-23

I know your post is about a year old but figured I'd answer it anyway. A swamp cooler is an evaporative cooler used in very hot and dry regions. You take a pad and soak it with water. You then take a fan and blow it across the wet pad and direct the air that goes past the pad to an area you want cooled. The evaporating water removes heat from the air by evaporative cooling; much how sweating cools you down.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to tinker and experiment with electronics, robotics, programming, and photography. Along with my latest interest in Steampunk.
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