Now it's set up by my bedroom window and it stays on all night providing a focal point at the end of my deck during the day, and a warm glow all night long. At least I think it stays on all night although it is off in the morning when the sun comes up... I've offered to set the alarm for 3:00 am so my girlfriend can confirm it doesn't go out, however she isn't inclined to do me this favor.
I had a good time doing this Instructable. I hope you do too!
Step 1: Gather Tools and Supplies
A solar operated garden light. I chose this one because it had a real glass shade and fit the inside of my stone lantern well. This was on sale for $3.99 at my local hardware stores. I've seen others with a plastic shade for as little as $1.99
Low voltage stranded wire. A few feet. I had some speaker wire from some long gone speakers.
Heat Shrink tubing. Appropriately sized, about four inches. Electrical Tape may be substituted.
Lighter to shrink the heat shrink tubing
Small Phillips head screwdriver
Soldering Pencil and electrical solder (optional, although a good idea)
Electrical tape (not shown)
Small nylon wire ties (not shown)
Step 2: Disasseble Solar Lamp
Step 3: Disassemble LED module.
Next, carefully unscrew the three Phillips head screws to separate the solar cell and the housing from the LED assembly.
Step 4: Carefully separate the LED assembly from the solar cell housing.
Do take a moment to marvel at the sophistication of this device. A solar cell converts the sun's power to electricity, the wires transmit the power to the battery for charging. A tiny microchip senses when it is dark outside by measuring the drop in power from the solar cell and lights the LED with power stored in the battery. When the sun comes up, the chip senses the return of power to recharge the battery and turns off the light. Sure, it's nothing compared to a computer or a calculator, although it's does do a very useful job!
Step 5: Carefully cut and strip the two wires.
Step 6: Determine path for wires to solar cell.
Step 7: Splice (connect) the low voltage extension wires
If you are using light gauge speaker wire as I did, one of the exposed stranded wires will be silver in color, and the other copper. You have to make sure you connect the black lead on the LED assembly to the black lead of the solar cell. Same for the blue leads. Your colors may vary. but one is very likely to be black. You will be making a total of four splices. Two at the LED assembly and two at the solar cell.
You can simply twist one of the extension wires to one of the leads and then wrap electrical tape. However, I preferred to solder the connections using "Western Union" splices taught to me by my eighth grade electric shop teacher.
In the photo, I have shown the blue splice with the heat shrink tubing fitted, and the black lead soldered with the tubing ready to be moved onto the splice and shrunk.
Step 8: Add stress relief for wiring
In it's original purpose, the solar cell was fixed to the LED assembly so there was not much possibility the wires would be torn loose from their connections. Now that the solar cell will be located some distance away, it is important to make sure the wires are not easily torn loose.
I threaded the wire through one of the unused holes in the assembly and bundled the wires with a wire tie so the delicate connections could never be torn loose.
Step 9: Reassemble the led assembly to the shade and place in lantern.
Test your wiring by making sure the solar cell is in a sunny location and then covering it with your hand. If everything is correct, the LED will light when you cover the solar cell and go off when you remove your hand.
Even though the whole thing will be covered with the stone roof, I decided to wrap the now exposed electronic components with a little plastic held in place by electrical tape. Sealing it up will moth and rain-proof your project.
Finally, put the stone roof back on the lantern and wait for nightfall.