Upcycled Solar Christmas Ornament

This super simple project turns a solar stake light into an amazing upcycled christmas ornament that charges during the day and shines at night.

What You Need:

  • Top of an Outdoor Solar Stake Light

  • Hot Glue Gun

  • Discarded materials for decorating e.g bottle caps, fabric, wash cloths, buttons, cork, paddle pop sticks etc.

The solar stake light we used has a colour changing LED in it. You can usually find cheap outdoor solar stake lights at discount stores at Christmas time or in the lighting section of a hardware store.

What You Do:

  1. Remove the top of the solar stake light.

  2. Check that the LED is working, if it has been charged in the sun it should light up when the solar cell on the back is covered.

  3. Decorate your ornament using the hot glue gun. Be careful not to cover the solar cell at the back or add decorations that will cast a shadow over the solar cell. We used the lid of a yogurt pouch, paddle pop sticks, a wash cloth, a hessian sack, a cut up pencil, paper clip and bell to make our reindeer ornament.

  4. Hot glue a ribbon or cord around the ornament to create a hanger.

  5. Place it in the sun to charge so it can glow at night!

How It Works:

The solar cell on the back of the solar light, also called photovoltaic (PV) cells (photo meaning "light" and voltaic meaning "electricity"), convert sunlight directly into electricity. A solar cell works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity.

Photovoltaic cells are made of special materials called semiconductors such as silicon. When light strikes the cell, a certain portion of it is absorbed within the semiconductor material. Metal conductive plates on the sides of the cell collect the electrons and transfer them to wires. At that point, the electrons can flow like any other source of electricity.

In the solar light this electricity is used to charge a battery which stores the energy until it becomes dark enough and light sensor in the solar light activates allowing the LED to light up.

What Next?

You can make a variety of different ornaments, try making a santa ornament or a snowflake or a christmas tree!