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Holiday gift ideas: Make an effective, functional solar lamp for under $7

solar lamp, make solar lamp, best solar lamp
258 145 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

Everybody should have an emergency lighting plan. And the holiday season is fast approaching, and you need some inexpensive, useful gift ideas for those preppers – and non-preppers – on the list. This solar lamp project could kill several birds with the same stone.

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by Leon Pantenburg

Nobody wants to sit in the dark when the power grid goes down. An effective, safe source of light will be greatly appreciated as a gift, or as an addition to your emergency lighting plan.

Here’s what you need to complete this emergency lighting project:

  • Chandelier shades/globes: These are generally really cheap, because you need at least four to outfit a chandelier. When one has to be replaced, it may be hard to find an exact duplicate. Then, the other shades may be donated to the local recycle store. Shades have a variety of shapes and glass style, and all you need is to find is two that will fit together at the wide part. I got my last shades for 50 cents a piece at the local ReStore.
  • Solar accent lights: These lights are recharged by the sun, and you may have some in the garage leftover from this summer’s garden. If you have to buy them, the standard wand shape lights will probably cost less than $5 each. During the off season, you’ll probably find a sale.
    solar lamp, make solar lamp, best solar lamp

    Total cost of this lamp was about seven dollars.

  • Glue: You’ll need something that bonds glass. I used LIQUID NAILS® Adhesive, and it has held up well.

Assembly is simple: Just glue the two wide parts of the shades together and let the adhesive cure. Find another type of  chandelier shade and use that for the base. Insert the accent light in the top and the lamp is ready to go.

Now, before you rely on these lamps for emergency lighting, there are a few considerations:

  • Bright sunlight may be needed to fully charge the light. During a storm or gloomy day, there might not be enough sunlight to re-charge the battery. The packages on some of the lights claim they will produce light for eight to ten hours, but that seems optimistic to me.
  • Cold weather can affect the battery. The colder it gets, the less effective the battery will be, and subsequently, the less light will be produced. You may need to place the lights inside in a warm window in direct sunlight to recharge them.
  • It will probably take several of the lamps to adequately light an area. But one makes a nice nightlight, and that can be a tremendous moral booster in an otherwise dark house.


These solar lights are intended to be  a supplemental system. But they can be valuable, because when they work, you can save on finite light sources like batteries, candles or lamps. They can also be used in sealed areas, since they don’t emit carbon monoxide like open flame lights do.

And think about this – a recycled solar lamp makes a thoughtful gift that could prove to be invaluable. Best of all, seeing a cool recycled lamp might encourage a non-prepper to start thinking about getting better prepared.

And who knows – that might be the best gift you can give. 

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