DIY Solar Deck Lighting

2 Materials
$15
2 Hours
Easy

A quick way to add lighting to your deck (with no wiring!)

Solar Walkway Light

Tools and Materials

  • solar walkway lights
  • Dremel/electric grinder
  • wood screws
  • screwdriver (don't use an electric drill)


I got a load of these "At Home" (the store). I chose the stainless steel tops for the contrasting look during the day.

Remove the Stake from the Bottom and Discard

Remove Stake

I cut off the nipple that slides into the stake to lower the globe on the deck. It's not necessary but looks nicer. I used an electric grinder. You can use a Dremel too. You must cut square to the globe to get a nice vertical look when installed. You can clean up slight errors with sandpaper.


Many have suggested skipping this step by using larger 1/2" holes in the deck for the nipple, but I was after something with less damage should I ever want to remove them - or sell the house.

Attach to Your Deck with a Wood Screw

When attaching to your deck, pre-drill your hole and use a screwdriver, not a cordless drill - otherwise you'll break the globe. I use a #8 stainless wood screw 3/4" long

Reassemble the Light Module

Reassemble the Light Module

Remove the battery tab and assemble the light module on top of the globe

DIY Deck Lighting

Here's the light shining about dusk. The globe makes a nice pattern on the deck rail.

DIY Solar Deck Lighting

I put one light above each 4x4 on my deck

Angled cut at the base of the globe

If you're careful, you can cut the base of the globe tube at an angle for your stair rail

Suggested materials:

  • Walkway lights  (At Home)
  • 3/4" Stainless wood screw  (Lowes)

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Have a question about this project?

8 questions
  • Lois
    on Aug 1, 2017

    what is the battery tab
    • Jim Cox
      on Aug 1, 2017

      Many electronic devices sold with a battery included have a tab to insulate the battery from discharge prior to being put in use. These small lights don't have a switch. Pull out the tab and the light starts working.
    • Boricuawi
      on Aug 1, 2017

      It is the the little white tab you pull out so the battery comes in direct contact with the item it's powering ...otherwise the battery would wear down before you've bought the item. Make sense? Hope it helps
  • Jea3775791
    on Aug 1, 2017

    What is the best way to make the solar lights taller? My flowers are taller than the lights, therefore the solar lights don't receive sun or light up at night. Any ideas? Jeanne
  • Ren25038334
    on Aug 1, 2017

    Julie McAvady how do you make wind chimes ?
    • Don reid
      on Aug 1, 2017

      I use discarded fire extinguishers, remove handle at top with crescent wrench/ pipe wrench drain the compound that's left inside use a zip cut or plasma cutter to remove however much off the bottom of extinguisher then expirement with different pieces of wood metal etc. Better yet you tube it
  • Tricia French DiCosola
    on Aug 1, 2017

    Do you think you could bury the solar lights in the ground for a concrete patio
    • Jan
      on Aug 1, 2017

      I would suggest cutting the tube to your desired length and cementing it in. This way you can replace the solar light when it stops working. Solar lights can fill up with water during a drenching rain, make sure you have good drainage at the bottom of the light.
    • Kirsten Templeton Green
      on Aug 1, 2017

      This type of solar light wears out after a couple of years. I use them around my yard and in potted plants. The wind and rain wears them out.
    • Jewellmartin
      on Aug 1, 2017

      Yes. Take off or cut the stake so that there will be enough to go into the ground to hold the light stable. The light has to be tall enough for the sun to shine on it for charging. Best wishes 😇
    • Jim Cox
      on Aug 1, 2017

      I wouldn't expect too much longevity out of a $1 light. Keep it simple so they can be replaced easily. My umbrella has already broke one.
    • Khaverfield
      on Aug 1, 2017

      I put 6 of these exact lights in my garden (99 cents at Walmart)Been 3 years and so far only 1 has went out they are all just as bright as brand new.Worth the buck..
    • Smy1105642
      on Aug 1, 2017

      I read somewhere that if you paint the solar part with clear nail polish, it will charge longer and not get foggy.
    • Karen
      on Aug 1, 2017

      Thx Sue. Worth a try.
    • Gloria Reed
      on Aug 1, 2017

      Good idea about the clear polish
    • Yvonne Procter
      on Aug 1, 2017

      I did something similar except I drilled into the post with a spade bit so the light just sits in the hole. That way when the light goes out, it is simply one out, one in. No screws, or cutting required.
  • Vee
    on Aug 1, 2017

    these solar lights from dollar store don't last too long. they have AAA batteries in them. It is more expensive to replace them rather than buying new ones. Any idea, how to make them last longer?
    • Cre28405736
      on Aug 1, 2017

      You can by replacement batteries with higher mha ratings to last longer overnight and longer through the season.

      Search Amazon for Lithium AAA's
    • Rose Mary Buds
      on Aug 1, 2017

      you can buy better rechargeable batteries, they will last longer but as you said they cost more than the lamps

    • Eileen B.
      on Aug 1, 2017

      My dollar solar lights are still working and they have been in the ground for 2 years. It is cheaper to buy new solar lights rather than buying batteries for them. I do have some lights that I replace the batteries in but those little cheapies I just replace the whole light
    • Peter Daniels
      on Aug 1, 2017

      Don't know where Cucamonga is but at under one dollar a light just bit the bullet and get new ones, anyway they should last a couple of years seeing as they are rechargeable.
    • Jim Cox
      on Aug 1, 2017

      If you're not afraid to take one apart, you can swap out the original battery with a higher mAh cell. I have some square lights that came with the house using a 500 mAh AA I swapped to 2200 mAh AA and put them on my gates, they last most of the night.
    • June
      on Aug 1, 2017

      Dollar store solar lights have lasted me at least two years also, and when they go out I just replace them with rechargeable batteries and they last a long time before they need to be recharged again, but I put rechargeable batteries in everything !!! I don't buy regular batteries anymore, it's a little pricey when you first buy them but they last a long time and I have saved so much money with rechargeable s !












    • For28365624
      on Aug 1, 2017

      I didn't even realize there was such as thing as 500 mAH (milli-amp-hour), AA batteries. Certainly it's a cost-saving measure for solar light manufacturers -- maybe they're factory-seconds that otherwise don't make it onto the consumer market. Otherwise, 2000 to 2500 mAH is par for the course.

      On Amazon, there are many scammers selling alleged AA batteries that are "rated" 3000 mAH, and cost much less than the "par" batteries. Some knowledgeable commenters have stated that they go against the laws for physics, that you can't stuff so many mAH into a AA-sized battery. It's true that these are invariably scam batteries, which actually hold little or no charge (!). Frequently, purchasers will leave reviews verifying the batteries were money-wasting rather than money-saving, often accompanied by written wails of frustration. I bought a dozen myself, once, and can assure you they're worthless -- instant "Error" on the battery charger. On a tangent, Amazon doesn't do anything about such scam products, so we're left with the old axiom, "If it's too good to be true..."

      My thought is that if the original "500 mAH batteries" are easily accessible, replacing them with a good, higher capacity battery increases the overall value of the light fixture, results in a smaller waste stream, and improves performance. AA or AAA to match the original batteries' size. You'll be looking for nickle-metal-hydride batteries (NiMH). It might make even more sense to use the original battery until it stops accepting recharges, and then start looking for replacement batteries.

      Walmart/Ray-o-vac NiMH batteries seem to have the shortest life. Probably better off sticking with Energizer Bunny or Duracell brand. Or if you're on Amazon, Panasonic Eneloop NiMH batteries are about the highest rated.

      And then, if you start me up I'll never stop, lower capacity (AA) batteries such as 1900 or 2000 mHA tend to survive more recharge cycles. Higher capacity AAs, such as 2500 mAH survive fewer recharge cycles, but of course they'll shine about 25% longer into the night. Youz pay your money and take your choice.

      As you were.
    • Shuganne
      on Aug 1, 2017

      I knew there was a good reason I always read to the end of the comments! You have a witty dry sense of humor. Thanks for the belly laugh!
    • Sharon Fultz
      on Aug 2, 2017

      I bought some dollar store lights on sale 2 for $1.00 and have had them in my planters for over 4 years. They still work. It is amazing. love them

  • Vrowland76
    on Aug 1, 2017

    What do you recommend for solar lights on a picket fence?
    • Jim Cox
      on Aug 1, 2017

      Someone in the comments has used a bracket to attach the spikes to their fence. I see an L bracket being handy too.
    • For28365624
      on Aug 1, 2017

      Hopefully not a picket fence against a sidewalk. That's just asking for people to knock the lights and do damage.
    • Mary Ann Kay
      on Aug 1, 2017

      4
    • Dixie Carlton
      on Aug 2, 2017

      use deck lights they work perfect and easy to move around if you don't like the light result..get at lowes and walmart
  • Billie Sue Wilson
    on Aug 2, 2017

    What is going on when solar lights light up during the day, but will not when it is dark out?
    • Jim Cox
      on Aug 2, 2017

      No idea. I'd pitch it
    • Mad15136947
      on Aug 2, 2017

      yes I have some as well...really would like some hint as to why this happens..
      if anyone has an answer, would appreciate hearing it.
      Thank you.
    • Joel Reinhardt
      on Aug 2, 2017

      Battery going bad and lighting off solar
    • Julie Tart
      on Aug 5, 2017

      clean the tops of the lights. it's not getting enough sunlight to show there is light or it is placed in a to dark area. I use vinegar to clean them.

    • Billie Sue Wilson
      on Aug 5, 2017

      Thank you.
    • Kal14519632
      on Aug 11, 2017

      Some solar lights have 3 settings on them. On - off- timer, if you have the settings at timer it will come on only when you pulled the tab. To correct this, turn to off setting and turn it back on at the time you want it to come on. They stay on for 5 hrs , some 8 hours, then they will turn off automatically. They will come back on at the same time each night, at the time you set it. Hopefully this is whats wrong with your lights.
    • Debra Thompson Woolf Polenz
      on Aug 30, 2017

      This is the oddest question, I have never owned a solar light which would light when it is daylight out. Hello people, didn't you ever hear of lights that only light when its dark out? like auto nitelights? They still have electrical current yet they go on and off when it gets dark, that is the idea you know. you only need light when its dark out. right? sometimes I wonder....like the other question about the plastic cup ugh...The idea is to charge when its light out then go on at dusk.
      I HAVE NEVER BOUGHT THOSE LIGHTS AND HAD ONE LIGHT UP DURING THE DAYTIME.

    • Arlis
      on Sep 19, 2017

      If they don't light at night you need to clean the solar screen or change the batteries. Turn the solar light part over, remove the little screw, replace the battery and put it back together. regular batteries work fine. They last just as long as rechargeable. If water has gotten in the light, let them dry well ,put batteries in and spray area with WD40.
    • Mzj32697925
      on Feb 17, 2018

      The light/dark sensor may be dirty, but in my instance, the battery is not holding charge. Its like a car battery has enough charge to start a vehicle, keep alarms and such activated. If the alternator is bad it doesn't charge battery or if battery is bad the alternator is only thing charging your vehicle. The light will come on during the day because sun is charging battery full, but battery is not able to store that charge for dark so when sun goes down your light goes out or will go out shortly after dark. I've had this happen with .99 lights and 50.00 lights, frustrating and I enjoy nicer lights so I will not dispose of them yes I buy replacement battery. I do use more .99 lights in main walkways but love the more ornate nicer lights for special areas .
  • Stacie Bennett
    on Aug 3, 2017

    materials are just screws and lights. what is the cup you are putting them in?

    • Jim Cox
      on Aug 3, 2017

      Between the light module and stake there is a globe or "sconce" if you prefer. :)
    • Maria M Mammarello
      on Jun 28, 2018

      Wow Jim, you apparently have to have alot of patience just to share these great ideas. Personally I'd have answered with: "Pay attention". You are obviously a much nicer person than I

Join the conversation

3 of 124 comments
  • Alayna Fisher
    on Jun 25, 2018

    Smart,efficient. Working on a solar powered chandelier myself. Wonderful concept and cost very little w huge payoff!!! Thanx pal

    • Jim Cox
      on Jun 25, 2018

      Thx for saying so. My time budget is often more limited than my funds, so I look for easy ideas that make a big difference quickly.

      Post a comment pic when you’re done 👍🏻😁

  • Car Rey
    on Aug 17, 2018

    Awesome ! Excellent idea ! can't wait to try . thanks


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