How To... Create a Sun Lantern
Want to cast a pretty glow across your table while dining al fresco at night—without burning candles? Make an eco-friendly sun lantern by combining recyclable materials you find around the house with a renewable solar panel and rechargeable battery.
Practical and attractive, a sun lantern makes a great hostess gift or a lovely addition to your own backyard parties. Best of all, you can use materials you already have on hand and fuel your creation with sustainable solar power.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- 1 empty, clean extra-large metal can with the top lid removed (We used a 6 lb. 9 oz. tomato tin.)
- 1 clean, clear glass jar (we used a 24 oz. pickle jar)
- hot glue gun and hot glue
- 1 solar garden light
- drill with wide bit (we used a 1/8” bit)
Wearing safety goggles, drill several holes all around the sides of the metal can. You can place the holes at random, or create a pattern—your choice.
Remove the solar panel and its attached battery from the solar garden light.
Tip — Depending on the model you’re working with, you may be able to lift the panel out easily, or you might need to pry it out using a small screwdriver. If you don’t already have a solar garden light at home, you can reduce waste by purchasing only the solar panel and its battery component as a replacement part from dealers that specialize in garden lighting.
Taking care not to obscure the working portion of the panel, apply a small amount of hot glue to the edges of the solar panel.
Turn the glass jar upside down so that the top of the panel can be fully exposed to sunlight and the LED is facing downward into the jar. Place it upside down inside the metal can.
Tip — You can affix the glass jar to the decorative can by applying by hot-gluing it in place. Just make sure that you can still unscrew the jar from the lid so that you will later be able to open it up and replace the battery.
Let the solar panels charge in full sunlight during the day. At night, your lantern will emit a faint, steady glow for several hours.
Suggestion — See what other recyclables you can find that can be transformed into sun jars. Use a basket or a paper lantern instead of the metal can to soften the look, or place the solar panel into the lid of an old-fashioned wide-mouth canning jar—antique versions of these jars come in many colors, such as amber and blue.