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.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

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



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Metal Contest

      Metal Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge

    17 Discussions

    Or simply use a clear glass bowl. Could even have the panel protected under it. For a little more oomph, a small mirror or two could reflect the sunlight on the panels in poorer lighting conditions.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    IDF supposedly uses solar lights like these along their border fences to be able to see people trying to cross illegally.

    5 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    He he .. that could be SO easily trolled with an IR-laser. Done that with similar lamps on driveways to houses when I was bored once.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Not sure if they're motion triggered or if they're turned on all night. Haven't been there myself to witness it -my dad was there and was the one who told me.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    And fellow Norwegian UN peace-keepers in uniform.

    And of course, they decided to use flecette ammunition -forbidden by the Geneva convention.

    But hey -the tank commander was fined $100. Good to know that us sub-humans are worth $100.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Well, the goal of my lamp was not to intimidate potential intruders, but simply to improve visibility and help my mother and others to avoid breaking a leg ...

    Maybe I should add a casing to make it look more friendly.


    8 years ago on Step 8

    nice idea.... how much generate the power and solar weight. its sastain the strom... etc..and natural efact ....


    8 years ago on Introduction

    ive been wanting to make this instructable for ages. i havnt read it but i can see its the same idea as what i wanted to do. i just have not had the time to make the instructable for it. well done it is an excellant job m8. that clear piece of plastic material is that uv stable otherwise in 2 years that will go faded and yellowish and will block out alot of the suns rays ?

    Dream Dragon

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Nice job, and well documented instructable, I don't know if I'd want to make it more "friendly" or not sometimes attracting attention and comment is a good thing.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I want one, but I think I would use aluminum instead of a salad bowl.
    This is going to sit in the sun, or it wouldn't work. Wouldn't that cause photo degrading of the plastic?

    1 reply