Solar Globe Garden Light


This was another of those ‘what if’ projects. Not sure if it falls into the steampunk art category, but I’m always looking for inspiration! I had picked up a dozen of these little solar panel/battery/LED assemblies from a surplus electronics store for cheap. They sat in a box in the closet for a year or so, then one day fumbling about in the shed I had an idea. I could build a bunch of little solar powered garden path lights!

I grabbed a handful of 3/4″ copper fittings and some pipe and went to town. I had a spare selenite globe lying about, and thought it would be perfect for the project as Selenite glows like fiber optics when backlit.

The solar panel and battery assembly is housed in a small box attached to the back of the thing. I built the box with some copper sheeting, and sealed the top with a sheet of acrylic held in place with some fish tank silicone.

I snipped the LEDs off of the circuit board and soldered a length of wire to each LED and re-connected them to the circuit board.

I ran the wires through the pipes and siliconed the 3 LEDs into the top L fitting above the globe, then soldered the joints between the top and bottom to hold the globe in place. I stuck it in the ground and waited for the sun to charge up the batteries!

When it got dark, the lights came on and the globe lit up! The LED’s are red-orange, so it wasn’t bright enough to provide any light onto the ground or anything, but it looked really cool. I envisioned building a bunch more of these to put around the yard, then realized my back yard was mostly in shade…. Crap. So I decided I would make a bunch of them that ran off low-voltage wiring.. a choice that brings some more options to the table. If I wasn’t relying on the solar cell / battery unit, I could use different color LED’s – perhaps white or blue.. maybe even ultra-violet.. really get some cool mood going!

After a couple of weeks of the globe light sitting in the back yard working flawlessly every night, I made a disconcerting discovery.. Selenite is water soluble! The rain was melting my globe away. It was rattling in its mount already, it would only be a matter of time before it shrunk so much that it fell out all together. Well.. lesson learned. Maybe a coat of lacquer on the globe could fix that problem, I have yet to do any experimenting on that front. But at any rate, it looks cool, and I’m not giving up on it..