This is a very easy and inexpensive project, and not only do they provide countless hours of personal enjoyment, they also make great gifts– especially to anyone who might have a deck, patio, or garden where they live.
You can find solar powered lights for your yard at about any hardware store, as well as Walmart in the gardening center, and that’s exactly what we are going to use!
The ones made of plastic instead of metal are going to cost anywhere from $1.98 to $3 dollars each. If you pay anymore than that, you are at the wrong store!
The basic function of a solar-cell powered light is to transfer energy from the sun into a small battery which is capable of powering a very bright, but very energy efficient bulb throughout the night.
Solar Jar Instructions
After purchasing your solar light, remove the top/cap from the assembly. It contains the photo cell (on top), chip, small battery, and bulb.
Depending on the kind of light you purchase and the size of its top/cap, and depending on the type of jar you are using (e.g., regular mason jars as pictured above), you can go about this project a couple of different ways. We’ll start with two methods if using a regular mason jar with metal or plastic lids.
Solar Powering Regular Mason Jars – Method 1
The first way is that you purchase a light where the cap simply twists off of the portion that goes into the ground, and then size that piece up to fit inside the ring of a mason jar lid by taping around the solar cap until it is snug. Then simply add glue to make sure it stays inside your mason jar lid (e.g., see photo for example). This is the preferred method of making the solar lids.
This is the preferred method of making the solar lids.
Solar Powering Regular Mason Jars – Method 2
The second way is that you will have to carefully take apart the plastic cap and remove the cell, battery, chip, light, etc., and then drill a hole in the top of the lid that is large enough to fit the dangling components through. The cell itself is usually square and after it’s connected components slip through the drilled hole, it can rest and be glued on top of the hole, creating basically the same thing you see here, except using the inner-portion of the lid itself as the housing instead of the original store-bought top. This can be done, but it can be time consuming and frustrating.
As mentioned above, purchase the solar lights with the tops that twist off of the stake portion, then simply glue the entire solar cap to the lid of your glass jar, making sure that the cell is exposed through the glass so that the sun will be able to charge the battery properly.
You don’t need any particular size of light, just make sure that the top portion can fit into your jar and then be glued onto the glass lid of the jar.
If you intend on frosting your jar (with glass-frosting spray paint), and you definitely should if you want the same kind of glow as seen in the photo, be sure not to frost the lid where the solar cell is going to be, or your cell won’t be able to charge.
How Solar Lights Function
These devices operate a couple of different ways. Some operate on a built-in timer where they assume darkness at a certain time, some get activated when they know they’ve been delivering a charge to the battery, but suddenly that power intake is decreasing (it believes the sun is going down), and others simply contain a photodetector / photosensor that detects light.