What do you do with those beautiful, expensive, and delicate solar-powered garden lights when the glass globe breaks?
Simply replace the glass globe with a modified Aqua Globe watering sphere.
To celebrate a great year of gardening, my sweet Jim gave me three solar-powered garden lights, much like the three in the photo below from Gardeners.com (http://www.gardeners.com). They put on a beautiful light show every night--we loved to watch them.
Each solar-powered garden light is packaged as a delicate glass globe on a stake; a solar panel on the stake powers an LED bulb under the globe. Various models of similar design are available.
The first glass globe fell victim to a garden tool I swung wide. I contacted various sellers, but no one would sell me the glass, and I hated to discard the solar panels and stake. Sadly, I pulled the stake out of the garden and set it aside.
Soon afterwards, a huge hailstorm came through our area, killing off the remaining glass globes.
I was not about to give up my evening light show, so we redoubled our efforts to find some sort of replacement for the glass globes. My mother was clearing out her gardening supplies, and she offered us one of those self-watering glass globes that are made for potted plants--sometimes they are marketed under the name Aqua Globe.
And the rest is, well, this Instructable.
Step 1: Supply List
You'll need these supplies:
1) A self-watering glass globe for each solar light you need to repair. The ones I used are branded Aqua Globe, and I found a two-pack at a local retailer for $10; I've seen similar products at various prices under various names--you can search the Internet under "Aqua Globe" or "self-watering bulbs."
2) Two sizes of rubber grommets--one that fits snugly around the stake (I used 1/4" inside diameter) and one that fits snugly around the smaller grommet.
3) Blue painter's tape
4) Black electrical tape
5) Sand paper (something that will work on glass--I used 250-grit)
And you'll need these tools:
1) A Dremel tool with a diamond wheel (for cutting the glass)
2) An Xacto knife
3) Safety glasses and work gloves
Step 2: Shorten the Stem of the Aqua Globe
Begin by using the Dremel tool to shorten Aqua Globe's stem.
How much of the stem should you remove? You're just going to have to use your judgement. Here are factors you'll want to consider.
1) A long stem gives you more stability for attaching the globe to your stake, but a long stem is also heavy, and the stakes are not particularly rugged. We lost one stake to an overly-heavy Aqua Globe, produced by a different manufacturer.
2) A lot of the globes are hand-made and thus have individual variations in the inner diameter of the stems. The globes I ended up using were too narrow to fit over the LED unless I cut the stems off almost at the base of the globe.
I found it nearly impossible to position the Dremel safely if I was cutting more than a few inches off at a time; I recommend that you cut a little bit off, check to see if it works, and if not, cut again. Here's the technique I used:
Cushion the globe so it is as level as possible. I used the styrofoam packaging from the store.
Wrap a piece of blue painter's tape around the stem where you want to make a cut.
Use your safety gear--glasses and gloves.
Cut slowly and carefully.
When the opening on my globes could slide over the LED on the stake, I sanded the rough edges with 250-grit sandpaper, mostly because that's the best sandpaper I already owned. I probably could have used a different Dremel attachment, but I'm not terribly comfortable using the tool yet.
Step 3: Attach the Globe to the Stem
Now you're ready to attach the globe to the stake. There are lots of ways to do this--here's what I did:
The small grommit should be snug around the stake. For my situation, the right-sized grommet did not fit over the LED at the end of the stake, so I used the Xacto knife to slice open the grommet.
I fit the small grommet around the stake where I wanted the bottom of the globe to sit.
Then slipped the larger grommet onto the stake and around the small grommet. These two grommits became the base for my globe.
I set the glove on its base, then wrapped it tightly with electrical tape.
Step 4: Replant, Recharge, and Rejoice
And now you're ready to put the stake back in the garden and enjoy the evening light show once again!
Do the Aqua Globes refract the light as nicely as the original bulbs did? No...but they are better than no globes at all.
Are the Aqua Globes prettier during the daytime hours than the original bulbs? Yes indeed.
And better yet, if these globes don't survive a stray gardening tool or hailstorm, I know how to repair them!