Scott and I ended up creating these path lights by sort of a happy accident. I’d been looking for low-voltage outdoor wall sconces for the Bunkalow, hoping that we could run our landscape lighting through the Bunkalow to power lights for the front porch. It turns out that low-voltage wall sconces do not exist (or at least I couldn’t find any). So then I started looking for solar-powered wall sconces. Nothing. Or at least nothing I’d want on our Bunkalow.
Somehow, though, I ended up on this post from Not Martha. She walked me through the steps of creating jar lights, which I figured I could hang from the front wall of the Bunkalow. Her tutorial was created a few years ago, though, and solar lights have come a long way since then (at least, if the criteria you’re using to evaluate solar lights is how easily they can be taken apart and made into something else).
Admittedly, this is probably not how most people judge the products they buy. Am I the only person who goes to the hardware store looking for something to take apart and put back together in a different way? Am I the only one who clearly needs help but when an employee asks if I need help, I smile and say, “No…I’m doing fine,” because I know they’ll think I’m nuts?
After reading the Not Martha tutorial, I picked up a couple of these cheap solar path lights at Lowe’s ($2.98 each).
I messed with them a little in the store – enough to know that the top (the part with the solar panel, the light, and the battery) twisted off easily, making it that much easier to take apart and re-assemble if I needed to.
It took destroying one light before Scott figured out that these lights fit perfectly in the top of a mason jar, making this particular solar path light the holy grail of solar path lights. And since Lowe’s changes their inventory about every six months, I’d recommend buying about two dozen of these babies now.
Here’s how to make your own.
First, grab some old mason jars. Any volume wide-mouth mason jar will work, but the top must be the wide-mouth version (3″ in diameter).
Pop out the inner lid – you only need the band part of the top for this.
Unscrew the top from your solar path light.
Use a tiny screwdriver to unscrew the four tiny screws.
Be very careful not to separate the wires from the light (they’re soldered on, so if they pop off they won’t be easy to reattach, unless you’re good with a soldering iron – we are not). Grab the top part of the light (the part with the solar panel) and give it a little squeeze until you can pop it from the underside of the lid band to the top side.
Line up the two parts of your top and screw them back together with the lid band in between.
Pull out the green tab that keeps the light from turning on (you could do this at the beginning to test the light, but then the light will shine in your eyes while you’re working). Screw the top onto the jar and you’ve got a path light.
Here’s what I love most about this path light – since the top is totally removable, you can get creative with the jars. Maybe some sparkly tulle at Christmas time, construction paper cut out to look like a jack-o’-lantern in the fall, swirled paint in the jar for a funky vibe, or just some simple frosted spray paint to give the jar a calmer glow.
Now…I need some bright ideas for what to do with the bottom part of the solar path lights I disassembled. I’m not even sure if they’re recyclable plastic. Thoughts?