I tried making DIY mason jar solar lights with the outdoor solar lights recommended in other tutorials found online.
The first outdoor light I bought was TOO SMALL.
The second outdoor light I bought was TOO BIG.
Then I found a way to make a DIY solar mason jar that makes sure your light is just the right size for your mason jar.
Here’s how to make solar lights at home!
Here are the supplies you need, with links to the exact ones I bought to make mine:
- Mason jar (regular mouth size)
- Mason jar solar lid (regular mouth size)
- Frosted glass spray paint
- Mason jar wire hanger (included with the solar lids linked to above)
Note: If the mason jars or lids linked to above are unavailable, look for “regular mouth mason jars” and “regular mouth mason jar solar lids.” Regular mouth mason jars have an inner diameter of roughly 2.5″ and an outer diameter of roughly 2.75″.
Step 1: Prep Your Mason Jar for Painting
Remove your mason jar’s lid. If necessary, wash your jar with soap and water and dry it off.
Lay out some newspaper, and place your jar upside down on the newspaper. (Because of paint fumes, I recommend doing this outside or in a well-ventilated area.)
Step 2: Spray Paint Your Mason Jar
Grab the frosted glass spray and give your jar a light, even coat of frosted paint.
Wait for the paint to dry. (According to the spray I used this takes 5-10 minutes. You can move on to the next step while you’re waiting.)
When it dries, inspect the jar for any spots you may have missed. Touch up those spots, if desired, and let the jar dry once more.
Step 3: Prep Your Solar Mason Jar Lid
Remove the plastic tab sticking out of your solar lid’s battery compartment, if it has one.
Turn the switch to the ON position. (The LED lights may turn on. This is completely normal.)
Unwind the LED string lights completely.
Step 4: Feed the LED String Lights into Your Mason Jar
Feed the solar lid’s LED string lights into your frosted mason jar.
Keep going! If your solar lid is like mine it will have a lot of lights.
Once all the lights are in, screw on the lid! (It might be a snug fit.)
Admire your completed solar mason jar light 🤩. If you don’t want to attach a wire hanger, you’ve finished!
Place your hand over the lid’s solar panel to block incoming light. The LED lights should turn on!
(If you’re lights aren’t turning on, go somewhere darker and try again. It may be too bright even with your hand over the solar panel.)
Why does this happen?
When the solar panel is receiving enough sunlight, the circuit turns the LED lights off and uses the solar energy to charge the rechargeable battery in the lid.
When the solar panel stops receiving enough sunlight, the circuit turns the LED lights on using the battery’s stored energy.
Step 5: Attach the Wire Hanger (Optional)
Unhook the wire hanger, place it around the neck of your mason jar solar light, and reattach it. (Be careful not to scratch off too much paint.)
If you decide to hang your light, just make sure to hang it somewhere the solar panel can still receive sunlight.
Step 6: Test Your DIY Mason Jar Solar Light
You’re done! 🥳
Now comes the best part:
Trying out your creation!
Wait until nightfall, then go outside and see your solar mason jar GLOW!
If it doesn’t work, make sure the solar lid is turned ON and it’s dark enough. If it’s still not working, the battery might be dead. Leave it in the sun to charge for a day, then try again.
How to Use Your Mason Jar Solar Light
To charge your light, turn the switch ON and place it under direct sunlight.
The lights will light up automatically at night once it gets dark enough. You can also force them to light up by blocking the lid’s solar panel with something like tape or paper.
How long will it last?
The solar lids I bought take 5-7 hours to charge fully and last 8-12 hours, according to the manufacturer. Your solar lids may vary.
Can I make the light a different color?
Yes! You can use stained glass spray paint to give the jar an even coat of color like you did with the frosted glass spray.
Bonus: Discover More DIY Solar Light Projects
I’ve been making a lot of DIY solar light projects recently. Here are a couple of my favorites.
This solar wine bottle is even easier to make than a solar mason jar! You don’t have to frost the bottle (unless you want to), so you just remove the label and put in the lights.
This project is for those who know a little bit about electronics. It’s a great beginner electronics project that uses the same solar light circuit found in solar-powered tea lights.
Keep Things in Perspective
Solar light projects like these are fun, but they won’t reduce your carbon footprint by any meaningful amount.
Unless you’re using them to replace grid-powered lights, they’ll likely increase your carbon footprint a tiny bit because of the greenhouse gases emitted to manufacture the materials.
In terms of eco-friendly living, I think a project like this can be thought of as a gateway to solar-powered lighting and solar energy.
Use the inspiration to consider switching more of your lights and energy sources over to solar, and installing solar panels on your home. That’s how you’ll truly make a dent in your carbon footprint.