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How To Make a Solar Light Chandelier in 7 Easy Steps

How To Make a Solar Light Chandelier in 7 Easy Steps

A few weeks ago I had the urge to make something fun and easy and I thought a solar light chandelier would make a nice addition to my front porch. I love me a good light project. There’s no shortage of sunshine in South Carolina and my desire to make my home stand out from our neighbor’s was all the incentive I needed.

I started by popping in to my local Goodwill one morning on my way to work. I found the perfect chandelier for $5.99.

Goodwill Chandelier

Next, I headed over to Dollar Tree on my lunch break at the recommendation of a co-worker. She’d bought some solar lights from there that were still going strong more than a year later. I found some lights and $6 later, I was ready to make my chandelier. Or so I thought.

You know it can’t be that easy, right? Cue the sad trombone music because I  realized that the solar lights were not going to just fit into the candle holders on the chandelier. The circumference of the light bulb socket and that of the solar light connector were identical.

solar light and candle sleeve

I needed another way to attach the solar lights to the chandelier. I made a stop to Home Depot on the way home and picked up a wooden dowel that would fit inside the solar light.

The next curveball happened when I  had to stop by Aldi’s to get some groceries for dinner, as one does. There I was, minding my own business, trying to figure out what groceries I needed, when I passed a selection of solar lights. The PERFECT solar lights for my chandelier. Oh, Aldi’s. You complete me!

Now, let’s be clear. There was nothing wrong with the first lights I picked up. While the shape of the light was a little ho-hum, I could live with it. The color didn’t match the chandelier, but I could fix the that problem with a little spray paint. At first when I bought the lights, I wasn’t hugely bothered by the hammered metal finish. As the day wore on, though, it started to chafe a bit. I didn’t like the idea of combining the brushed metal of the chandelier with the hammered metal look on the Dollar Tree solar light.

Solar Light and Chandelier metal finishes

While I was in Aldi’s, though, it was like the heaven’s parted and shone a beam of celestial light guiding me to a solar light that was the exact same color and finish as the chandelier. At $1.89 each, they were a bigger investment, but even I am not so cheap as to quibble over the extra $5.34 for the perfect light. I was excited to get home and start working on my project right away, but Hubs and I were hungry and there was dinner to be made.

Aldi Solar Light

Truth be told, I was actually annoyed to be hungry. If you have followed me for awhile now, you know about my struggle with depression. It’s been a long time—probably a good three years—since I’ve been this excited to work on a project. Certainly, I’ve done projects during that time, but none have truly gotten me giddy and energetic about doing them. With depression, I often have the sense that I need to strike while the iron is hot. This feeling has led me to work frantically when the mood and energy are upon me. Pesky little annoyances, like eating, would often be ignored to get my project done.

However, it was this type of thing that brought me to my knees and caused my burnout. I am trying to learn from my mistakes. I knew I needed to stop and do first things first. This meant my project did NOT get done that night. It easily could have if I’d had all the parts in place. All told, it took probably an hour to make.

After dinner, though, I ran into several road blocks. First, I discovered that the wooden dowel I’d bought for the first lights, was too small for the second ones. I’d need another dowel. Second, I wanted to attach the wooden dowel to the candelabra socket with some zip ties. However, I couldn’t find our zip ties. They were hiding on me. Fine. Since I have to get a new dowel, I’d just pick up some zip ties. Finally, my third roadblock presented itself in the form of not one, but two old hack saw blades. The second blade wasn’t so bad and could kind of get the job done, but the noise it made!

Hacksaw blades

Imagine Hubs sawing away on the metal light bases and me standing with my hands over my ears, frantically searching for the jar of ear plugs or the earmuffs, while yelling, “Highly Sensitive Person! HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON!!!

Obviously, I needed another lunch run to get some more supplies. The next night, with a new hack saw blade in hand, I was able to get everything cut to my satisfaction before the heat in the garage did me in. I spent the rest of my time that night, inside the house, peeling the labels off the solar light posts. Sheesh! That was the hardest part of the whole thing!

How to Remove Sticker Residue

I have discovered that a paste of baking soda, Dawn Dish Detergent, and a hot water rinse works really well at removing sticker residue. Look at me, doing all the hard work, folks, so you don’t have to!

How to Remove Sticker Residue with baking soda and Dawn detergent

Finally, on night three, I was able to assemble it all together. So again, this is NOT a three day process. It really was about an hour’s worth of work from start to finish. Just, you know, have all the right parts on hand before you start.

How To Make a Solar Light Chandelier in 7 Easy Steps

Step 1: Disassemble the chandelier

You will need to get rid of the electrical parts. I started by unscrewing the finial piece from the top of the chandelier and removing the chain from the finial. I didn’t need the chain for length as I planned to hang my chandelier from a shepherd’s crook. But, depending on where you plan to use yours, you might not want to remove the full chain.

remove chain from chandelier

I used a couple of Vise Grips to clamp onto the sides of the chain to give me enough leverage to pull it apart. Next, I simply cut the wires coming out of the top of the chandelier and pushed the leftover cord inside the chandelier body.

Disassemble chandelier

Step 2: Reassemble the Chandelier

Since I knew I was going to be hanging this chandelier low enough where you could see the top of it, I wanted to turn over the decorative piece at the top. After I cut the wires, I unscrewed the nut holding the chandelier parts together.

Reassemble chandelier

Then I flipped the plate over and screwed things back together. This makes the chandelier look more finished when it’s hanging low enough to look down on it. If this were going to be hanging from the rafters, I would have left it the other way.

Rearranging Chandelier Parts

Step 3: Prepare Candle bases

If you have a candelabra type chandelier, you will need to remove the candle sleeves.

Remove Candelabra Sleeve

I wanted to use the solar lights post in place of the candle sleeves because 1) I liked how well they matched the chandelier and 2) as I mentioned before, the solar lights were too big around to fit into the candle sleeves.  The sleeves from the chandelier acted as a cutting guide for my solar lights.

Cut Solar Light Base

The solar light posts are metal and you already know the story there. Just buy a new hack saw blade and avoid my pain.

Step 4: Remove Candelabra Sockets

Depending on the type of chandelier you have, this step may not be necessary for you. In order for me to get the solar light to fit on the chandelier, I had to remove the socket.  This required snipping the socket wires at the base of the holder.

Cutting Candelabra Socket Wires

Unscrewing the socket post from the chandelier and using my handy dandy hack saw (with its new blade) to cut the socket off the post. I’m sure there’s some other way to do this, but I had the hack saw and I knew how to use it, so that’s what I did. Once the socket was off, I screwed the post back on to the chandelier.

Cutting off Candelabra Socket

Step 5: Create Base for New Candle Sleeve

I didn’t think the thin metal socket post was a good base to hold the solar light on to the chandelier. This is where the wooden dowel comes in. I cut the dowel about  ¼ – ½” shorter than the new candle sleeve. I originally thought I would zip tie the dowel to the socket post, but there simply wasn’t enough room for the zip tie. The connection where the zip tie holds together is pretty fat.

wooden dowel inside solar light post

You can’t see it in the picture but the socket post fills the gap on the left side of the dowel. Plan B, included Duck tape.

Attach Dowel to Candelabra Socket Post

I used about an 8” strip of tape and wound it around the base and the dowel, making sure it was on there nice and tight. The bottom of the dowel is resting on the screw part of the post that holds it on to the chandelier.

I’ve had some friends ask me about making one for them. If I do it again, I will buy some velcro cable ties to hold the dowels in place.

Step 6: Attach Solar lights to Chandelier

This is the easy part. Once you have the bases ready, simply slide the new candle sleeve in place and pop the solar light in the sleeve (former post).

Place New Candle Sleeve on Candelabra Socket

I had planned to glue to posts to the bottom, but honestly, there’s really not a need to do that. These are securely on the chandelier and are not going anywhere.

Step 7: Hang Your Chandelier

The last step is the hang the chandelier in a place where it will get enough sunlight to charge the solar lights. I love the idea of the chandelier under a tree, but all of our trees offer too much shade. We have a shepherd’s crook, though, that’s a good height for the chandelier.

How to Make a Solar Light Chandelier

I’m really happy with how it turned out! I love the finish of the solar lights. The solar lights are a great match to the original chandelier and look like they were always meant to be together.

Solar Light Chandelier Detail

It lights up our entry way at night to where I don’t feel like I need to keep my front porch light on all night long.

Solar Light Chandelier at Night

There you have it. Seven easy, doable steps to make your own solar light chandelier. The total cost for the chandelier, without my costly mistakes, was around $20. With my mistakes, it was about $30. Maybe $35. The zip ties are something I frequently use and the first set of solar lights are in my garden.

It’s a fun, cheap and easy way to add a little zing to your outdoor space.

Solar Light Chandelier

If you want to see my other lighting projects, be sure to check out my Edison bulb chandelier, my Industrial Sconces and the Fandelier, and my Mason Jar Light project. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends!

How to Make a Solar Light Chandelier in 7 Easy Steps

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Comments

  1. I am impressed by your idea. This is the way we can make our house becomes more beautiful. I guess it will be gorgous when you turn it on in the evening! Thanks for sharing your experiences 😀
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  2. How clever!! There is a flower bed near the end of our sidewalk that needs a bit more light, but I didn’t want the solars to look like an airport runway. 😉 This would be a great solution, hanging a chandelier on a shepherd’s hook!! Thank you! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  3. Jan Elizabeth :

    What a great idea! One of these would go great in my backyard, too.

  4. You are right! It looks real good! Love anything recycle, what a fabulous idea for a solar chandelier.
    Maria

  5. Great upcycle of this piece and your idea for solar is perfect for summer!

  6. What a BRILLIANT idea! I love this. Thank you so much for doing all the “figuring” out for us. I’m sure I have an old chandelier somewhere that would be fantastic for summer lighting.

  7. This is beautiful! I love the idea of the solar lights ~ genius!

  8. Oh my gosh. What a beautiful piece. I love that you shared all the problems and how you solved them with us. And, can I tell you that I never heard of using baking soda with dawn to remove stickers. Most say to try a citrus cleaner but they don’t work that well. I’m excited to try this method. Thanks for sharing and making this project look so do-able!

    • Thanks, Patti!

      I love the Dawn and baking soda trick. Getting stickers off is a huge pain. I used to use vegetable oil and that didn’t really work that well. I’ve tried GooGone and that stuff stinks to high heaven. I’ve had the best success with the baking soda, Dawn and hot water.

  9. I saw this idea on Pinterest several years ago and made one at that time. This year I replaced the solar lights and spray painted the light fixture to match the tops of the solar lights. I leave it out year round, so here in Wisconsin it shines even in the snowy winter. You will love yours. Job well done.

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