Introduction: Solar Powered Street Address

Picture of Solar Powered Street Address

Parties are fun in the winter but in Minnesota dark falls before the guests arrive.  I have gone to friends houses and the only clue that i am at the right address is the porch light is on. I wanted to make it easier for my friends to identify my house.
My hundred and thirty year old home does not have a light outside to illuminate the  address numbers.  I was thinking a light up street address would do the job. i can put it  in my porch window.
My initial thinking was to use a  Light Bright(TM) but i don't have an outlet  in a convenient place. I wanted something that doesn't  plug in.
A couple weeks ago i was at the local big box building supply store and the holiday garden lights were $1.99.  I bought one and made this lighted address box with stuff i had at home.
I made this on Thanksgiving weekend. I am still surprised each time I walk up to my house in the dark. My address is boldly displayed. I know i am at the right place.

Materials:
Cheap solar garden light  (Holiday ones are already on sale)
Flip top shoe box  is the easiest to modify but any container will do with extra work.
Alumnium foil
hot glue
tape
tissue paper
utility knife
scissors
Pencil or pen visible on box

Step 1: Solar Unit

Picture of Solar Unit

Remove  the 1.2v solar cell and battery  unit that twists off the top of the garden light. The rest becomes doodads for a future projects.

Step 2: Cutting the Address

Picture of Cutting the Address

Draw the address on the shoe box flap. I had to switch to a silver Sharpie  because the white pencil and blue Sharpie were not very visible.
Cut the address out using a utility knife or Xacto knife. I had some trouble cleanly cutting through the corrugated cardboard of the box. If I wanted fancier type i would use a press-board shoebox instead.
I cut a piece of carboard to hold under the lid for stability after I cut through from the E to the 2 and had to tape it together.

Step 3: Line With Foil

Picture of Line With Foil

I tested the illumination by poking a hole on the long side attached to the hinged lid and inserted the LED to test the illumination. Not so bright.
Line the box with foil. The standard size of foil from the grocery store is a perfect fit. Dab hot glue in the corners and then add a line along the edge. Fold the foil over the box edge and trim to close to 1/4 - 1/2 inch and tape it to prevent it curling and ripping.

Step 4: Mount Solar Unit

Picture of Mount Solar Unit

Reinsert the solar unit in the hole and trace around it.   Create a hinge by NOT CUTTING a 1/2 inch of the traced line opposite the lid hinge. The goal is to have this circle be a platform that lets the solar unit dip into the box at slight angle  facing the foil wall.
For colored address put a piece of tissue over the inside of the lid.

Step 5: Oatmeal Box Version 2

Picture of Oatmeal Box Version 2

This is the fist one i made.
I cut the numbers in small segments because the cereal box cardboard tends to warp if not supported.The address window is two lids, one inside the other .  I can change the color of the address with out having to use tape to hold the tissue. The press-board was easier to cut too.
This one used an oatmeal cylinder, and an empty tape roll to hold the solar unit in place.

OK So the last thing i have been testing is recharging the solar unit. My porch has a goofy metal awning that blocks direct sunlight.  The solar light requires direct sunlight to recharge. It ran for two nights with the initial charge. Now I  have been recharging it at a south window during the day.


Comments

jud1929 (author)2011-11-24

Thanks so much. I made one and it looks great.

jooknon (author)2011-07-06

Great Idea!!

I finally recreated your light up street address after first finding it months ago. I went with the shoebox and it works great. I had to modify it a little bit because I keep it inside the kitchen window and it would turn off if the kitchen light was on and wouldn't charge very well during the day.
I moved the solar light to the inside of the front of the box (kinda squeezed it above the numbers and glued it in place), and cut out a little square the size of the solar panel. i found it worked a little better to keep the clear light cover on to help diffuse the light around the box.

Next step is to paint the box white, so it doesn't look so crappy during the day.

I'll try remember to take a pic and attach later.

jooknon (author)jooknon2011-08-31

...and pics

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