Introduction: Solar Lamp on a Pole, Under a Bowl

About: So many things to learn and make, so little time! I like things that are cool, useful, efficient, well crafted.
In search of a solar lamp for our park place, I found no lamp suitable for a pole, neither cheap nor expensive. All I found were solar lamps for wall mount, the best ones approx 100$.

The best lamp I found, suited for wall mount, was conforming IP44. Obviously, this is not sufficient: it will be continuously exposed to harsh weather conditions (sun, rain, snow, frost, hail) during long periods (possibly days). Very short examination showed that rain can accumulate into the border of the solar panel's frame, and water will eventually seep into the panel. Also, continuous alternation of sun and rain/ice will lead the plastic case to become brittle and surely to eventually crack. I'm not an expert in this area, but I think it needed to get turned from IP44 to IP44W...

Then, I saw a very big plastic salad bowl, that would perfectly fit as a protective cap above the lamp. All this (plus the fact that my mum was urging me to improve the path visibility at night) was more than reason enough to start a new DIY project, so I decided to buy the lamp, the bowl, and a galvanized pole.

Step 1: The Lamp

This lamp is the best one I found, and was approx 100$. Made for wall mount, it features:
  • LED panel, 80 LEDs, totaling 6W
  • PIR and sunlight detector, to detect beings at night
  • Solar panel, with a surface largely surpassing these ridiculously small solar garden lights
  • IP44 plastic case
  • Three potentiometers to set: Night light threshold, lighting intensity, and lighting duration

Step 2: The Pole

This is a galvanized iron pole, with a plastic attachment piece with a brace on its top. Diameter is similar to those used in fences.

Step 3: The Cap

This salad bowl is made of polypropylene.
Diameter: 34 cm (approx 13.4 inches).

Step 4: Needed Stuff

Several on-hand things were useful:
  • PVC L profile
  • Wooden stick, rectangular profile
  • Scrap plywood
  • Plexiglas (leftover from other projects), 2.4 mm thick
  • Silicon sealant
  • Various screws and bolts
  • O-rings
  • Galvanized steel perforated band
  • Paint, suited for outdoors, and wood primer

Step 5: Fitting the Cap

As seen in Step 1, the lamp is made for wall mount, so it was necessary to build this (yellow) wooden adapter to tighten the lamp to the cap.

I first made a cardboard model, then sawed the pieces out of scrap plywood.

After assembling with tenons and screws, I applied some wood primer, then several coats of yellow paint.

Step 6: Making the Solar Panel Mount

Because the solar panel was not looking like being hail-resistant, nor convincingly water-resistant, I had to build a Plexiglas screen.

To protect the top edge I glued an L-shaped PVC profile onto the Plexiglas, so that the rain would not drip into the inner side.

Wood profile was used to build the yellow fixture, and has been assembled with the Plexiglas using screws and O-rings. The Plexi was sanded there, to allow the glue to adhere.

The orientation of the panel, relatively to the orientation of the LEDS, has been carefully determined. I marked the position and applied some silicon sealant between the panel's foot and the bowl.

Several holes cross the salad bowl:
  • Four for the screws. Sealed by o-rings.
  • One for the wire. Sealed with hot melt glue.

Step 7: Assembling Things

Le lamp could be tightened to the yellow board with screws.

The pole came with a fixation brace, and a plastic cap (visible in Step 2). I screwed the brace and the plastic cap to the backside of the yellow board, and tightened the pole.

The cable could be bundled and attached using zip ties (you know how I like zip ties...).

Step 8: Installing and Letting It Shine

To chose the right place, I installed the pole temporarily, using zip ties. Many ties, because the cold weather makes them more fragile.

Then, after a few checks at night, the final place was confirmed. I attached the pole using galvanized steel perforated band.

Now it's doing its duty very well, undergoing a period of several days of uninterrupted intensive rain. The strong wind caused the rain to splash all sides of the lamp. The bowl's exterior was exposed to rain as if literally immersed into water, but not the lamp.

Let's see how many years the salad bowl (sorry, the cap) will stand the weather. Changing the bowl will be less expensive as the lamp.

The strange alien/robotic look does not miss to attract attention and raise questions!
3rd Epilog Challenge

Participated in the
3rd Epilog Challenge