Turn a Solar Light Into... a Solar Light!




Introduction: Turn a Solar Light Into... a Solar Light!

In this, my first (successful) instructable, I will repurpose a solar walkway light to replace a lamp post fixture that was previously gas burning. So in effect, I am repurposing the light to make a different light.

Step 1: Dismantle the Light

Shown here are the parts in the kit, consisting of the light, a hort section of pole, and a plastic spike. Throw all these items in your spare parts bin except the main housing. Oh, and you can trash the instrcutions, too... we won't be following any of those today.

The next image shows the main housing after dismantling. We're only interested in the white plastic piece with the lamp, the solar panel, and the circuit board/battery pack. Carefully detach the solar panel from the main housing and discard all of the housing.

Step 2: Prepare the New Housing

Remove the existing fixture from the lamp post, and then remove the interior workings. Mercifully, mine was already detached from the gas line, and I recommend that you consult a trained professional if your gas line needs to be altered or detatched. No sense trading in that old light fixture for some good old fashioned third-degree burns.

Step 3: Detatch Solar Panel Wiring

Shown here are the plastic casing (the white circle) which has the mount tfor the circuit board and the little battery compartment and cover built into it.

Un-solder the two wires leading to the solar panel from the circuit board. Pull the wires completely free of the housing and set the housing aside. We're re-wiring the solar panel next.

Make a note of which wires attach where so you can put it back together again.

Step 4: Prepare the Solar Panel

Unsolder the two wires from the solar panel and re-solder two new, longer wires in their place. Do not resolder the other ends to the circuit board yet. Make sure the new wire is long enough to reach from the roof of the old fixture to the circuit board.

Next, drill a hole large enough to accomodate the two wires on the low center of one roof side. The solar panel will lay on the outside of this roof panel with its bottom edge resting on the roof edge, and the two wires will go through the hole to meet the electronics inside.

I also took this time to repaint the old fixture with a nice fresh coat of black spray paint.

Step 5: Run the New Wire and Re-Attach to Circuit Board

Thread the two wires from the solar panel through the small hole in the roof and resolder them to the circuit board.

In the image here, the wires needed to run through a small hole in the back of the white plastic thingie so that I could re-mount the circuit board in the little rectagle it came out of.

Your situation may vary slightly, or might not resemble this image in any conceivable way. Hard to say.

Anyway, pop in a NEW battery to test everything, as the supplied re-chargeable battery may not yet have a charge in it.

Step 6: Suspend Light From Ceiling of Fixture

Next, thread some galvanized steel wire through the top of the black metal fixture to make a three-point hanging system. The lower ends of the wires can thread through the exisiting screw holes on the outer edge of the white circuit board assembly, or you can drill new holes.

The terribly unfortunate image here shows the inside of the metal fixture with the wire wrapped around one metal crossbar.

Yes, I know.
You're welcome.

Step 7: Mount Solar Panel

Mount the solar panel on the roof of the metal fixture. I used clear silicone all around the solar panel to seal it from the elements. If you have to clamp it in place until the silicone sets, as i did in the image, then clamp ever-so-gently so as not to crack the solar cell's glass front.

Step 8: Finished!

The fnished light. What a beauty.

By the way, my neighborhood Lowe's had the solar cell walkway light on the markdown shelf for half price (paid $8.60). I alreadyhad the wire, so for less than 1 month's cost of actually burning gas, I now have a self-renewing light source.

Oh... Uh... I mean, I got the solar light from the trash dumpster at the local police station... Yeah.



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    15 Discussions

    Awesome. Thanks for structions. Been thinking of doing this project. How the light given off by the LED ? Anything more than ornamental?

    2 replies

    I must admit... the light is pretty weak. Strictly ornamental. But for me, it's a light at the end of a very short driveway, and we have streetlights and such. In extreme dark situations, I don't think this would provide enough light to make one feel truly illuminated.

    Enjoyed seeing this Instructable as I am preparing to do the same thing myself. In terms of the brightness, you swapped out the wiring for longer wiring. Did you account for the voltage drop?


    April 1, 2007 through June 7, 2011... light is still shining... no new battery or anything! Total savings update for 4 years and 2 months of NOT burning natural gas for this fixture has reached a total of $691.

    I don't get it. unless u'r like "natural sunlight! get it off me!", why would u need artificial light that's only available when natural light is?

    2 replies

    Just thought I would add that the gas company wanted $14 a month to have a gas light burning in this fixture.

    1 year at $14/month = $168
    Cost of light = $9
    Net savings = $159

    "natural sunlight! get it off me!" - LOL! But, you have a confusedness... The light is not on during the day. The battery charges during the day via the solar cell. The unit comes with a light sensor, so it knows when it's night, and then the light comes on. But only at night. By the way, one year and seventeen days later, and it's still going. Pretty sweet.


    11 years ago

    Well done, but the 4 faces on the gas light cry out for 4 cells, batteries and leds for a brighter light. good job, great pics. Thanks for sharing.

    2 replies

    Indeed. But that also has the prerequisite of the wife's permission, since that makes the $9 light into a $36 light. So, I figured I'd see how just one light performed since it has an ultra-bright LED. (Says so right on the box, so it MUST be true!) Thanks for the compliments!

    haha good cover, you retain your street cred with the cool kids!

    wow htis is amazing are u sure this is your 1# successful instrutabal u seem like a pro P.S: keep up the good work

    1 reply

    I am an amateur instructabler. I dream of going pro though. I believe with enough hard work and pushups anyone can go pro.