Intro: Solar Lantern Renovation
Many years ago we purchased these solar lanterns for our back yard. However, over the years they began to fail. First were the rechargeable Ni-Cad batteries. Then a few had board failures and finally the solar panel delaminated on some. Originally I was able to get replacement boards which included the solar panel. But the company no longer seems to be in business. Like all other electronics the price for solar lights has dropped. Also the efficiency and brightness of the the LEDs has improved. So I purchased a pack of 20 lights for a round $20 at a discount store and started a renovation project.
Step 1: Dismantle the Lantern
A few screws liberate the electronics pod. You will have to snip the cables to the solar panel. The solar panel can either be removed or left in place and use a hole cutter to cut the required diameter hole for the new solar light. I successfully drilled one panel, but the next one broke. So I decided to design a holder for the replacement panel and light. I will describe it in a later step.
Step 2: Remove the Solar Panel
The panels on my lanterns we held in with glue and a couple of press fit washers on some posts. These post will need grinding down.
Step 3: Cleaning and Painting
Once you have removed the panel now it's time to do some repainting. The glass came out easily so there was no need for masking. I used a hammer finish paint from Krylon.
Step 4: Mounting the New Solar Panel
As I said earlier, I tried just to cut a hole the diameter of the replacement solar light I was using. But it was not very successful as the old panels tend to be brittle. So I designed a holder using AutoCAD and printed out the piece on my 3D Printer. You could easily make a simple wood holder or Acrylic depending on what material you have available and are comfortable working with. I have uploaded the CAD file and the .STL file in case anyone has the same size lanterns as these. I also printed a panel holder with glow in the dark filament as a test. I hot glued the solar light and holder in place. I like to test the lantern before finally fitting it just in case I have a faulty one or a bad battery.
Step 5: Reassembly
When you are happy with the paint finish and the glue has had time to dry you can then assemble the lantern and put it outside in the sun to charge.
Don't use a hot glue to glue the bracket and new solar light in place. Due to the sun and the metal case the glue will remelt. I found one of my fixed solar lights at the bottom of the lantern. But I do live the Sacramento, CA area where we get to 105°F in Summer!!