Intro: Solar Veranda Roof Light
This simple instructable will show you how to install a solar garden path light in a glass ceiling tile, to provide some evening light on your veranda.
Note: Since the roof I was working with is made of terra cotta tiles, I used a glass tile, designed to interlock with the terra cotta tiles, but if your roof is made of a different building material, you may consider using a sheet of plexiglass or skylight instead.
• Glass roof tiles
• Solar path lights
• Super glue
• A ladder
Step 1: Build a Veranda
I can only take credit for the concept for this veranda. All the credit for the construction goes to my 79-year old father-in law Moacyr, who pretty much singlehandedly constructed this veranda ( with a little help from his wife;-), which serves as a above ground bridge to connect our two houses. This is very convenient for moving from house to house at night, without having to walk through the backyard. It's also strategically located facing west, providing a wonderful view of the Brazilian sunset.
Step 2: Glass Roof Tiles
Obviously the sun does not pass through the terra cotta roof tiles, which are the most common roofing material in Brazil (and much of South and Central America). These tiles are durable, attractive, and inexpensive, but for the purpose of this project, I needed the glass tiles.
After shopping around a bit, I found that glass roof tiles, or "telha de vidro," are extremely expensive. These two tiles cost about $US40 each, which my father-in-law tells me was about the cost for all the terra cotta tiles for the roof. This is why these tiles are generally used for accent, to provide a bit of sunlight by day.
But of course my plan is to provide not just daylight through the roof, but a bit of solar light by night.
Step 3: Prepare Solar Path Lights
I used a pair of standard solar powered garden path lights. These lights don't generate a huge amount of light, but they do generate enough to light the doors on the veranda. And as they charge by day, and automatically go on at night, they have the added benefit of the appearance that someone might be home, even when we're not;-)
For the purpose of this project, you don't need the plastic tube that holds the lamp and spikes into the ground, so you can put this aside for another project.
We also don't need the round silver disk that's inside the lamp globe. This serves to reflect the light up, if the lamp is in the ground. But for this project, we actually want the light to point down.
This small plastic disk (at least in my lamps) pops out very easily, as its held in by for small plastic clips. So take this out and put aside for another project.
That's pretty much all the preparation the lamp needs.
Step 4: Prepare Roof
Terra cotta tile roofs are built a bit like a puzzle, with each piece carefully fitting into all the pieces surrounding it.
If you haven't built your roof yet, you can plan where you want to put your glass tiles, and work them in as you build. But if like me, you are installing these lamps after the roof has been assembled, you need to carefully remove a tile, to replace with glass.
I found it worked best to actually remove two contiguous tiles, to make it easier to install the glass tile.
Step 5: Install Glass Tile
This is the trickiest part of this project, as to install the glass roof tile, you need to work on a ladder, and very delicately insert the glass tile under and over the adjacent terra cotta tiles. Be extremely careful not to use too much force, or you may find yourself with a handful of expensive broken glass.
Once the tile is in place, replace the adjacent terra cotta tile, and make sure all tiles are properly interconnected to prevent rain from getting in.
Step 6: Mount Solar Light
Once you've got your tile in place, the last step is to glue the solar lamp to the glass tile. You want to situate the light such that it gets maximum sun exposure, and also on a portion of the tile where there will be a maximum of surface area contact between tile and lamp.
I found that the solar panel on my lamp is slightly raised from the rest of the top of the lamp, so this is where I put my glue.
Apply your favorite brand of super glue around the edge of the solar panel, and then hold in place against the glass tile until your arms get tired;-)
Step 7: Finished
And that's it!
Make sure to leave the switch in the on position, unless you want to climb a ladder every time you want to turn your light on;-)
This light isn't going to send you running for your sunglasses, but it is enough to offer a low accent light, and give enough illumination to navigate the veranda on a dark night. It's also not going to add anything to your electrical bill at the end of the month, thanks to bountiful and free solar power;-)