Garden solar lights cost as little as $1-2 each, but they can be incredibly useful and versatile. In fact, their cost to usefulness ratio is off the chart as a $2 solar garden light can replace and, in some cases, improve upon several more expensive (or disposable) items and gadgets.
BTW – if you have some old or cheap garden solar lights that are not working well, check out our previous post – DIY Quick Fix For Garden Solar Lights.
Solar garden light battery charger
Garden solar lights usually run on rechargeable AA or AAA batteries. They charge up the batteries during the daytime, to provide light during the nighttime, but they are effectively just a solar battery charger with an LED bulb attached.
The LED garden lights we have, have a on/off switch to control the light. When switched off the light will not come on when it gets dark, BUT the batteries still get charged and trickle charge (topped up) day after day. Simply swap out the rechargeable batteries when they are charged, and charge another set of AA or AAA rechargeable batteries. Rinse and repeat. Simple!
If you have some lights that take AA and some which take AAA, you can charge both sizes of battery!
Solar Lights = reusable and safe candles
Solar garden lights can be used indoors (need to be put outdoors to charge though!) as a safe and reusable alternative to candles for use during power cuts or SHTF scenarios. Pretty much anywhere you would have used a candle, you can use one of these reusable solar lights instead. Each one also works night after night if you place them outside during the daytime to charge up.
The smaller sized lights like the photo above, work best as solar-powered candle replacements, but you can use any variety in a pinch.
Depending on the size/shape of the lights you have available, you can try removing the plastic opaque housing around the LED bulb as this can result in higher light output. Also, see the DIY sun jar down below.
Solar-powered camping lamps
Pretty similar to the replacement candle above really. The LED lights work great when placed around your campsite, but they are also very useful as lamps to use inside your tent too, providing they have an on/off switch!
Rechargeable child’s nightlight
It’s fairly obvious how this works once you think about it… You could place it on a windowsill so that it can recharge during the daytime. Again, see the DIY sun jar project below, as that could be used as a nightlight as well.
Solar-powered flashlight (spotlight versions)
If you have spotlight solar garden lights, they can actually work fairly well as a solar rechargeable flashlight. You need the ones with the solar panel built into the light itself, rather than the ones with the solar panel on a wire.
Light up the chicken coop to deter predators
Place multiple garden solar lights around your chicken coop to light the surrounding area during the nighttime to deter predators. This can work especially well if you mix in some of the solar lights that also include a PIR (motion sensor) as they will pop on and off when they detect movement.
Make an awesome DIY sun jar
This is such a great project and it will save you a load of money versus buying a solar sun jar. Rather than me explaining, check out the short video below.
Child/pet safe solar jack-o-lantern
Tealight candles are an old favourite with jack-0-lanterns, but they do sometimes feel like they could be a bit of a fire hazard, especially when used indoors or around dogs and small children. The 40-second video below tells you everything you need to know about using a garden solar light to make a safe jack-o-lantern.
Increase crop yield with greenhouse lighting
If you place some of these garden solar lights in your greenhouse, it can increase crop yield by providing extra light, which is especially useful during the Spring and Fall when the days are shorter and there is less light. I think this would work best in a small greenhouse with several of these lights. On a larger scale, I think you would struggle to generate enough light to make a difference.
It goes without saying, but this would also enable you to be able to see what you are doing if you go into the greenhouse in low light.
There you go, some genuinely useful hacks and alternative uses for cheap garden solar lights that can save you a load of money. They are also a great way for you to repurpose and reuse some old garden lights that you have knocking around the garden.
Local waste and recycling centres get tons of these old garden solar lights. I am sure a quick visit could result in you coming away with as many as you need free of charge… If you do, be sure to check out my other post fixing old garden lights like these.