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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Upcycled Life: Upgraded solar lights

By Katie Patterson Larson For The Spokesman-Review

We’ve all had the experience of a plastic object breaking and struggling to figure out how to repair it. Solar yard lights were one of those challenges I took on.

If the stake breaks but the solar panel and LED light still work, here’s a guide to upgrading the fixture.

Most of the parts can be sourced at your local Habitat Restore or thrift store.

Start by painting a small tin (I used a cat food tin with a 2½-inch diameter) and wood dowel to match. I also painted a small wooded cap that fit over the end of the dowel.

To assemble, screw from the inside of the tin through the center of the cap and into the top of the dowel.

Now you can set any glass light shade with a 2-inch fitting into the cup. I found a dozen options at Habitat Restore.

Finish by adding the solar component. For narrow glass shades, remove the most top portion of the solar light. This has the solar panel and LED light together. Set this directly into the shade.

For wider glass shades, you might need to leave the plastic reflector attached to keep the LED bulb up high enough to illuminate the glass.

Or add a small glass jar that fits inside the shade to hold up the solar panel and LED bulb. Place the upgraded solar light fixture outside and enjoy the nighttime glow.

Katie Patterson Larson is the director and founder of Art Salvage. Art Salvage keeps usable materials out of the waste stream and makes them accessible and affordable. For more information, visit