You can use solar lights or solar lanterns to decorate your home for any occasion or permanent lighting. There are different types of lights that you can always buy at your local store and light up your house, but you can as well make yourself a lovely lantern at home with less than $25.
Before jumping into the step by step section, we want to walk you through some concepts you might need during this article. And also, we want to brief you about solar energy and modern life.
If you already read our solar energy 101 article. You can just bypass this section.
We are living in a world where solar energy has become a daily norm. Solar energy has many advantages than disadvantages. They do not use fuel to make them operate.
Although there are clients who still complain that solar energy is still expensive, they live in an area where they receive less solar energy. But that is not the case; using solar energy saves you a lot of money in the long run.
Easy Steps on How to Build a Solar Light
Building a solar light has never been so hard. It does not require any technical or electric knowledge to get yourself a solar light. You can follow our instructions, and you will be good to go.
What You Are Required
Here are the parts and tools that you need: Hot glue gun or superglue, Jar, Led lights, Soldering machine, or wire nut, Battery holder, Solar panel 2Volts max, AA or AAA NiMH batteries, PCB circuit board with a dusk to dawn regulator switch.
A drill to pierce the jar and a wire snipper and a cutter. If you are perfect when it comes to wires, you can as well use the wire nut to solder the switch and the wires too.
But that will come later in the article. When you purchase the solar panel parts, make sure they are not too big or too small because we will glue them to the opposite sides.
The regular LED lights should be able to function well when it comes to type and color, but using the 0.5 LED stray hat white is the best option as it will produce bright, intense light, which will make sure your living area is well lit. You will need a solar panel to capture the sun’s rays and convert them into electric energy.
You can find excellent solar panels on Amazon at a relative price. It would help if you had a small solar panel of 40 mA, and 2V is good enough to charge the AA NiMh batteries. Both the AA and AAA batteries are perfect and will work well with the battery holder. You need to make sure the batteries are rechargeable.
The best batteries are always the nickel-metal hydride batteries because they can retain charge for a long time and are suitable for any weather than nickel-cadmium batteries.
It would help if you always replaced batteries to avoid overcharging them.
First, you will need a PCB circuit board with dusk till dawn photo switch regulator that will always stop charge during night hours. A PCB circuit board with an inbuilt element is always the best, but you can always design yourself to get one. The PCB board should be just the lid’s perfect size as it will be placed under the lid and enable it to close well.
When it comes to choosing a jar, you can get anything that is perfect for you, but it is always good to use a pickle jar. Use a drill to make a hole on the lid, and if you do not have a drill, you can always find something sharp in your toolbox to puncture the lid.
1. Trim and Cut the Wires
You will notice first when trying to build the solar light that the wires will be long and not of the same size. They are always two colors, red and black. Make sure you trim them so that they will be able to fit in your pickle jar. The black wire is negative, and the red one represents the positive.
The circuit board, the battery holder, and the solar panel all need to fit in the jar, ensuring that the wires coming out of them are well-trimmed to the perfect size.
If you are using a circuit board with no wires, you need to ensure that the positive and negative spots are well placed on the board. You will need to cut the wires to about 3.5 inches and then strip them bare at 1.5 inches to reveal the naked wire inside.
The naked wire will be used to connect other wires. Be careful when stripping the wires; make sure you do not use a lot of force. Make sure while stripping the wires, they should still be connected to the circuit board, battery holder, and the solar panel. Make sure you connect the wires according to the marks on the circuit board.
You will notice the words “solar” and “battery” on the board. Ensure the wire from the battery connects to the board’s battery wire is the same for the one marked solar.
2. Connect the Circuit Board to the Battery Holder
If you are perfect around wires and tools, this will be easy for you. It is time to connect the black wire to black and the red wire to the red wire. You can go ahead and sell the red wire to the red wire marked battery on the circuit board and do the same for the black wire. If you do not have a solder, you can insert the stripped wires to the nut.
You will need to be focused on inserting the stripped wires on the nuts is not easy. Make sure they are straightened before inserting them in. Once you put the red wire and the black wire inside their respective nuts, turn the nut clockwise and make sure the wires are nice and tight. Make sure that both wires are stable, and the electrical bond is also firm.
3. Connect LED Light
If you have a circuit board which does not come with an inbuilt led light, you can always fix it yourself. On the circuit board, you will see a led input section. Ensure the longer positive section of the LED goes to the positive part on the circuit board, and the shorter negative-led diode goes to the board’s negative side.
4. Drill the Lid
Place the circuit board aside and take the lid of the jar. Puncture a hole on the jar’s lid, and be careful not to place the lid on a surface that might damage it. Ensuring that when you are drilling, your hands should not be close as you might end up hurting yourself. The hole you drill needs to be in the lid’s center to allow the panel to be stable and allow the red and black wires to fit it well.
5. Connect the Solar Panel with The Circuit Board
Once the solar panel’s red and black wire has gone through the lid, it is time to repeat the same for the battery wires. Carefully place the striped red wire from the panel to the nut and take the striped red wire from the circuit board to its written Solar and put them beside the wires from the wire nut’s wires.
Make sure the wires are connected tightly by turning the nut clockwise to make an electrical bond. Repeat the same process with the black wires.
6. Glue-All the Parts Together
As we earlier mentioned, the lid needs to be big enough to accommodate both the circuit board and the battery holder side by side and remain stable. Make sure the batteries are not glued to the jar’s lid as you will not be able to replace them, and make sure the jar edges are not glued together as you will not close the jar. Ideally, the battery holder needs to be under the solar panel.
Use super glue or hot glue to stick the elements together firmly. Gently apply glue on the solar panel side and firmly press the wires beside it to stick well together. Close the lid of the jar, and just like that, you have a solar light.
Uses of a Soldering Iron
When using a soldering iron, we are more flexible, and connecting elements together in different ways is relatively easy. You must also be comfortable using the soldering iron.
If you buy a solar panel that does not have an inbuilt wire by any chance, it is quite simple to fix them using a soldering iron. The solar panel comes with a positive and a negative terminal; make sure the positive wire is connected well to the positive terminal using a soldering iron. The same applies to the negative wire.
Some circuit boards do not come with a switch, which means you will need to buy one from your local store and use the soldering iron to connect the switch to the board. Make sure to cut the red wire on both sides and ensure that the striped side is 1.5 inches long. After that, solder the exposed wire to the terminals of the switch.
8. Circuit Board
If your circuit board does not have wires, you can use the soldering iron to connect them. Making sure that the red wire is fixed with the red side on the board and the same with the black wires using the soldering iron.
9. Solar Lantern / Lamp
A solar light or a solar lantern does not necessarily need to be used in outer space or even your garden. Apart from a lantern, you can place the lamp beside your windows, and they will look nice when they are indoors.
People prefer making solar lights themselves as it is always fun doing it yourself. Making a solar light yourself is incredibly useful; that is because it gives you room for creativity. You can choose the color, style, or even the shape of your solar panel.
You can place the well-designed solar light on your kitchen, veranda, or even your living room area. If your sole purpose is not decorating your house, then using led lights which are not healthy is the best idea. You can get led light with different colors on your online store or choose to paint your jars. Using graffiti is also another option of making your solar light look attractive to your visitors.
10. Testing It
Once you are done connecting all the wires, you should never forget to test it before you glue components together. Testing it prior saves you a lot of time in case you find something is not working right. Wires might have been disconnected, and that can cause the lamp not to light.
So, before you glue the jar, make sure it is working well. If you need to replace some wires before gluing them together, you can make sure the switch works well.
Ensure that the battery holder holds the batteries tight and the batteries do not have any fault and the solar panel is also well placed. Most problems usually occur if you are soldering the parts yourself using the soldering iron. Always ensure that the soldering iron holds tight to avoid later problems.
Maintenance Your DIY Solar Light
Once you have your DIY solar light or lantern or lamp, the next thing you need to do is to maintain the solar light. Changing the solar batteries every after-three month is recommended as it will ensure that your solar light lasts for a long time. Cleaning the solar light is the next ideal thing to do.
Please make sure you always keep the solar light clean, preventing it from getting dust or dirt. Dirt can prevent the solar light from illuminating your living area if you intend to use it there. The solar panel will also be blocked from reviving direct sunlight, which is essential to keep the solar light operational.
When it is a rainy season, do not place a solar light on a dump area as that will bring molds and eventually prevent the solar panel from working. The electrical components might also get damaged.
Solar Lights in Places with No Electricity
Solar lights are not only used for decorative purposes but are also used to light up our day to day livelihoods. In places like the Philippines and India, there are frequent power shortages, making most people rely on kerosene to light up their homes. Kerosene is expensive and cannot be afforded by most people.
That is why using solar-powered lamps is incredibly essential. They only need sunlight, and they will keep your home lit all night. That is why many associations and trying to teach people living in areas with frequent power outrages how to make a solar light using plastic bottles lying around.
Once they learn how to make a solar panel themselves, it can always act as a source of energy during the rainy days. It might still be hard for such people to acquire solar-powered lamps as they cost at least $20 per light bulb.
When you are making a solar light, you need to ensure you are working in an area that can allow you to be messy.
Outside your house or even the garage area is suitable for building a solar light but not inside your living room area.
Always make sure that children are not near your working area and make sure the batteries come last as you do not want to experience any shocks during the process.
Make sure you supervise your working area if at all kids will be playing around you.
Our honest thought: Buying a new solar light is a great idea but making one for yourself is much fun. It can also be an excellent time to bond together with family and friends.