Monday, August 24, 2009

Cheap Solar Lantern

I am up and down several times a night dealing with the dogs and my own small bladder. There is nothing that irritates me more than stepping on a half eaten dog bone or worse kicking a dog in the middle of the night. I wanted a night light that would give plenty of illumination and not draw from the battery bank.

I picked up a bunch of cheap LED rechargeable garden lights at walmart for four dollars each. Then took a water jug, cut the top out and filled it about halfway up with dirt. Stick seven of the lights down into the dirt and poof you have a cheap rechargeable solar lantern.

A solid day worth of charging will give a few nights worth of light just remember to set it out in the sun every day or so. When I get up to make coffee I put the lanterns on the deck to charge for the day. One of Axel's chores is to monitor the charging process. He does the job well.

In the winter just set the buckets in a south facing window. One of the kitchen windows and the sun room are both south facing. You will get plenty of sunshine to keep the lights charged without worrying about moving the buckets outside during the day.

This lantern actually puts out enough light to read by. The handle in the water jug makes the lantern easy to move and you can break the lights apart and place them where needed. Unlike fancy store bought solar lanterns which will only work for six or so hours this lantern will stay lite for at least two full nights on one charge.


Anonymous said...

Excellent idea - you can pick up a pair or more of these for $10. Like you stated, not a whole lot of light, but enough to get you around the interior your house without bumping into items. Put a mirror or even shiny side tin foil to reflect even more light.

Neat thing is, the limited amount of light doesn't advertise some is inside moving about, unless you cross the light and expose a moving shadow.

Kymber said...

great idea that we will be copying Bear! thanks so much!

Jimmy the Screwdriver said...

I did the same thing for inside. Take off the stake part and turn it upside down and put it on your table. Works great.

Anonymous said...

A good hint is that even the cheap solar powered garden lights are effectively solar battery chargers. Disconnect the light and put the unit in the sun and your battery gets charged. Replace the battery with a better one for best results and it will take more then one day of charging to reach maximum. My garden lights have a cheap AA rechargeable battery in it. You can buy decent rechargable batteries for longer use. Put two of these garden lights out for about three full days of sunlight and you have two charged AA batteries for flashlights, radios and things. Also you can buy a "D" sized device that allows you to insert a AA battery in it and it then functions as a D battery. My old Radio Shack SW radio requires 4 D cells and 3 AA cells. With my two garden lights converted to chargers it takes 12 days of good sunlight to fully charge the batteries (three days for each pair). But the radio runs for weeks using it a few hours a day. I keep extra rechargable AA bateries fully charged so I never run out. My little 2 AA LED flashlight runs forever between charges.