Saturday, August 25, 2012

DIY Solar-Powered Mason Jar Luminaries

DIY solar mason jar

This is one of those ideas that seemed like a really simple one UNTIL I started working on it.

It actually turned out to be a bit harder than I anticipated…but in the end I was very happy with the results.

So I hope you will hang in with me while I attempt to show you how to make one of these fun mason jar luminaries.

I’ve been wanting to do something like this all summer long. Just haven’t found the time. But when I saw these solar garden lights on clearance for .97 cents each, I couldn’t resist.

It was time to take action! Better late than never right? Besides, these will be just as enjoyable on cool autumn evenings as hot summer nights. :-)

mason jar luminaries

The reason my seemingly simple project turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated centered around the fact that the size of the light was smaller than I anticipated and didn’t “fit” the mason jar opening. Somehow I had to come up with a way to connect the light to the top of the jar without covering up the little solar panel on top OR the light on the bottom.

After searching and searching…I found a tip on The Happier Homemaker that at least got me pointed in the right direction. She mentioned using paper clips to suspend the light from the rim of the jar. But that’s about as much detail as there was. I was on my own after that.

After a few different configurations…here is what I came up with.

You’ll need 3 paper clips, and then you’ll want to shape them so they each end up like this.

 

Then you’re going to use those paper clips to suspend and balance the light on the rim of the jar. Stick one end of the paper clip into the light (you might have to loosen the screws a little bit.) Use all three and space them evenly around the edge.

mason jar luminaries

 

Turn over and place light inside the jar, with wires hanging over the edge.

mason jar luminaries

 

Yay!!  You did it! The hardest part is over. :-)

Just a few more steps and you’re done.

Put the ring on over the wires. This might take a little “persuasion” from your hammer.  Just a few light taps should do it. Then bend the exposed wire the best you can up under the bottom edge of the lid.

mason jar luminaries

 

At this point you can wrap with some ribbon, or some burlap or a length of fabric to cover the exposed wires. I decided to wrap mine with jute. Super easy, no glue (or anything else) required, and all the wire is completely covered!

 

Now set your jars in a sunny spot and wait for darkness to fall.

mason jar luminaries

 

Then bask in the glow of your efforts. Now wasn’t that worth it? :-)

mason jar luminaries

 




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58 thoughts on “DIY Solar-Powered Mason Jar Luminaries

  1. Melissa@TheHappierHomemaker

    Looks great Jillee!! I was laughing reading it because you have no idea the frustration I went through trying to get that light hung with paper clips. You did a significantly better job of both rigging it up and showing it than I did! I’ll be doing it your way for sure next time! :)

    Reply
  2. Gloria

    I saw Rebecca’s post about making these and I have been looking for ‘cheap’ solar lights that would fit in the jar rings. Question – if you leave them outside, does the jar fill up with water if it rains? LOL I’m going to start looking now for some solar lights on clearence. Thanks for all your clever ideas – love your blog

    Reply
  3. Patti White

    I have these on my front porch. I used the wide mouthed jars. I found a light that fits very snugly into the jar and then I just put the ring on. The lights I used had a metal band around them, some just slipped right off, but others had to be coaxed very strongly(had to get the husband’s help on a couple). Even though they fit so snugly, a little rain did manage to get into the jar. I love my mason jar solar lights! It helps to take the jar ring when you go shopping for the lights.

    Reply
  4. Rebecca Wethman

    what a great idea! Now to find the lights on clearance, the hunt is on. These will look great on our front porch. just found your blog this week and am really enjoying it.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      These are really awesome. They might also be cute if you placed a fake bug or butterfly inside the glass…just for fun, like a lightening bug or some small but pretty thing…eg, flower, etc. Thanks for the great idea!

      Reply
  5. Lori

    Thanks for sharing the creative idea for repurposing solar lights. I was also wondering about keeping out rainwater. More important, I wanted to keep out bugs. What about cutting out some netting material, the kind you get for clothing at the sewing stores, and placing it over the jar opening before attaching the screw band? Maybe someone can come up with a way to get the band on so that it can be removed in order to clean out any tiny gnats that might get through the netting or to replace the netting itself. Maybe redesigning the paper clip part would allow for the clips to be completely inside the jar with a part of the paper clips taped (the clear, wide packing tape style, cut to size) to the inside rim. That way the screw band can be opened any time. Or, you could even buy a sheet of clear acetate (craft store?), cut into circles and fit that over the top of the Mason jar. That should do a fairly decent job of keeping out both the bugs and the rain even if you stick with the original paper clip design. My thoughts, anyway.

    Reply
    1. Jillee Post author

      I don’t think rain water would be a problem since the solar lights are OUTDOOR lights to begin with….so if they get wet…it wouldn’t hurt them. Unless the jar filled up so much that it touched the light….but that would have to be a LOT of rain water. :-)
      I don’t have an answer for the bugs. Bugs bug me.

      Reply
  6. Lynda Lowery

    This would be great for those solar lights that the bottoms have broken on. I put 1 solar light in the middle of every pot I have on the deck and in front of the house and garage so my plants light up at night around our property. Love doing that much better than in the ground. Sometimes the bottoms break but the light is still good. Great idea…..going to do that today!

    Reply
  7. Jeanne

    I used wide mouth pint jars and put Dollar Store glass beads in mine. Light diffuses thru the beads, making it not quite so harsh (and a pretty color). It looks even cooler when the Oregon Sunshine (aka rain) pools in the bottom a bit. I don’t have trouble with bugs getting into it, but we don’t have lots of trouble with bugs. Giving to all my RVing friends this year for Christmas!

    Reply
  8. Rose Myrtle

    I know this has nothing to do with the topic, but I’m going to write it anyway.
    Dear Jillee or whoever has the answers,
    Do you know of a shampoo bar recipe that isn’t too hard to make, not to expensive, no lye and if you do could you please tell me. If you know how to make an easy acne cream, could you please give me the recipe?
    Thanks a bunch!
    -Rose

    Reply
    1. Jana6670

      Hi Rose,

      Easy shampoo recipe with no harsh chemicals nor lye , I use 1 Tablespoon to 8oz of water, such as use any old shampoo bottle will do the trick. This will clean the hair very nicely. For conditioner apple cider vinegar. I dilute 1 Tablespoon of ACV with 1 cup of water. For this I use a spray bottle. I have been doing this for 5 months now. People have commented on how shiny and healthy my hair looks. Give it a try.

      Reply
  9. Cynthia

    Jillee, once again you have given me a new and inspiring idea for my wedding. ;)
    I was planning on using mason jars, or whatever food jars we could recycle, for lighting anyway, but this has taken that idea to a whole new level! I SO appreciate it!
    I dunno about everyone else, but around here, we have places that sell solar lights for about $1 a piece all the time. It might take some hunting, but I’m fairly certain I can make these quite cheaply and make them look unique and exquisite. The jute wrapping is exactly the feel I’m going for – country chic! Only I may add a bit of color…but, basically, I’m stealing your whole idea! I hope you don’t mind LOL

    Reply
    1. JennieS

      I found a solution to the bug/water issue. I found some heavy plastic that a set of road games came in (games long since outgrown) in the “going to have a garage sale” box.

      What I did was use super strenght glue and glued the lights to the inside of the jar at the top. The lights don’t have to be in the center. After they dried, I cut circles about 2 inches larger than the jar opening and simply put that over the opening and screwed the jar ring over it. They look great outside and light up just fine even tho they are not centered. Hope ya’ll find this helpful

      Reply
  10. Amy

    What about some screen like you use on your windows on top for the bug issue? You may have to cut the square out for the solar part, but maybe not?

    Reply
  11. Chelsea

    Cutest version I’ve seen yet! These would be easy to switch up for holidays with different ribbon, too. The only thing I would suggest is clipping the paperclips with wire cutters so that you don’t have to bend the wire under the cap later. :)

    Reply
  12. Donna

    First of all, Jillee you are so awesome! I just love the ideas you post on your website. Keep it up. I have been saving lots of money by making my own household products. I think the solar light is a great idea. I keep solar lights charging all day and bring them in at night as night lights around the house. Just yesterday our power went off for a little while. I just gathered up my lights and all was well. No worries about fire from candles. Thanks again for all you do for us! :)

    Reply
  13. Laura

    I was thinking that you could cut a square hole in a lid and glue the solar light to the underside, this way the lid would fit on the jar and the solar panel would be exposed to the sun. There would be no collecting rain water and the bugs would stay out as well. Just add the rim and done, it sounds a lot easier to me then the paper clip method. To dress the jars, some cloth panels or doilies could be modge podged to the inside of the jar.

    Reply
    1. Charles Giltner

      That was my first thought was ADDING COLOR…but it might be better to use food coloring and water in the mason jars. Then you could just wash it out and change color as you will. Also about the rain and bugs, the Saran wrap idea was my solution. The colored water might also diffuse the light in nice ways. Haven’t tried it yet, but sure it would work great. Fun stuff.

      Reply
  14. Don

    I can make these so they’re water tight as well. If you take the flat metal lid and a dremel tool you can cut the square for the solar panel. Once you do that you can hot glue, silicon or epoxy the light to the lid. Drop it into the jar and screw the ring back on and your done.

    Reply
  15. Tracey

    To those worried about rain and bugs I was just thinking that maybe placing a layer of plastic wrap on before you place the lid on may help, not sure how long it would last before it broke or the bugs ate thru it but I would think they would leave it alone so maybe…it’s a thought.

    Reply
  16. Ryan

    One thing I have done is use a frosted enamel paint on the outside of the glass to give a frosted glass look to the jars. My version is a bit more involved, but it uses the sealed canning jars which helps the issue with rain getting in, too!

    Reply
  17. Raigan Z

    Okay, I was thinking about the water leakage problem. I agree with you the I don’t think it will hurt but for those that are concerned, I was thinking about maybe silicon around the edges or maybe putting the rubber gasket for a tattler jar. For the wires that stick out cut them with some wire cutters and just leave enough for it to “hang on”. That might eliminate the water/bug problem…maybe. I haven’t tried it yet :) Blessings to all!

    Reply
  18. Raigan Z

    Oh!! Jillee, I was thinking that the tinted jars that you did your phone desk makeover would be great for this project just to change it up a little bit or maybe for a night light for a childs room…just a thought.

    Reply
  19. Aileen

    Made one of these today! Your directions are awesome and so easy to follow. Great to use in the house as night lights. Found the solar light at Walmart for 97 cents.

    Reply
  20. Annette

    LOVE your SITE! I just made these yesterday and they came out fantastic.. I didn’t have any paper clips.. SO… I improvised with using just twine string and they were ridiculous easy to make. All I did was take two pieces of string and tie a couple of knots to create a “holder” for the light.. then tie a small string around the top rim of the jar and slide the string through to create a sort of pulley so you can even the light out to however far you want it up or down. Then just pop on the lid.. and WHAllla :)

    Reply
  21. Vickey

    I love this idea! I can see using these in the bathroom for a romantic, candle-less bubble bath and even night lights in a child’s bedroom especially since they come on/off by themselves.

    Last week, our Wal-Mart had the small solar lights for $1.00 a piece.

    And even though not as pretty, I had a friend that screwed u-shaped brackets onto their deck railing which allowed him to slip the solar lights into the brackets. It was also easy to change those that burn out.

    I have read that you can “plant” solar lights in planters w/styrofoam to use in your home when there is a power outage. If nothing else but to light your way through a dark home.

    Reply
  22. Minelson

    I didn’t read all the responses. For me this project was a train wreck ! I could not for the life of me get more than 2 paper clips attached. And they are small paper clips. I’m going to try to figure out another way because I think it’s a cool idea! wish me luck :)

    Reply
  23. mary hall

    I made this up and they are great for camping… you can put them any where and if a little water get in side it not a big deal just drain it out and your good to go… what a great idea thanks for posting this …

    Reply
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  25. Deb Crowder

    Going back to the original DIY Blue Mason Jar Luminary… My answer for just about everything is Glad’s Press ‘n Seal. You could use it like a hammock to hang the solar disk part in the jar. Just make a small whole for the light bulb. I would put the disk on the NON Sealing side so when it comes up over the lip of the jar and stick/seal on the outside of the jar. I would also try putting another small piece of the wrap on top of the solar panel itself again sticking/sealing it on the outside of the jar. Just trim the wrap and screw on the jar ring and add decorations and you’re done. I really like the idea of using colored glass stones or maybe some seashells or how about some oil and water with a little food coloring? I haven’t tried it yet I’m still in the thinking stage.

    Thanks for all the neat ideas.
    Recovery Rules

    Reply
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