Off-Grid lighting idea….cheap!

Visiting my local Wal-Mart to check on the ammo selection I found a display of solar landscaping lights on clearance for .72 cents each. These are the very cheap models usually selling for $1.00. I bought 10 of them.

I believe these small 1 lumen solar lights could be useful in a power outage. I am going to make a small wooden stand with holes in it to store the lights. This stand would allow the lights to be carried all at once outside to be charged during the day. At night they can be brought in to provide a soft source of illumination.


The top black part of the light which houses the solar panel, LED, and AA-battery is removable. By taking it off and laying it on a flat surface solar-panel side down, the LED will act like a small tealight candle. Having a few of these scattered around my downstairs would provide enough light to walk around with.

At .72 cents a piece these are a bargain. I really should have bought more and if there are still some available my next trip I will.

A secondary but still valuable use for these are to remove the included AA battery and replace it with a higher-capacity rechargeable AA battery. It may take a few days to charge it  – but for .72 cents you can get the sun to do some work for you.


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10 thoughts on “Off-Grid lighting idea….cheap!”

  1. With the simple addition of a contact switch and a trip wire you can use these to also make a silent alarm. Just place a non conductive material between the contact points on the switch, which is attached to the trip wire. When the non conductive piece is removed and the contacts connect the light will go on. If you don’t want anyone to see it other than a watch you can wrap the light with duct tape or the like with a hole in the direction of your LP/OP or watch. This could be useful for procuring meat from deer and elk as well as security.

  2. The idea of utilizing the small solar light for various purposes is “enlightening”. However when I examined the light and carefully disassembled it there is a 2/3 AA battery and not a full-sized AA. Perhaps the entire unit could be reworked in order to charge/recharge a AA?

    • Thanks Dr. Allen. I had accessed other similar lights and there was a full sized AA. On the bottom of the unit it said “AA” so I figured it was like the others. Appreciate the info.

  3. If you shop around, you can find some decent ones. I have several that use a rechargeable AAA and have an on/off switch (think I paid $2.50 each(. They put out decent light for a path and last all night after a full day of direct sunlight. The original batteries only lasted about a month, but my duracell replacements have so far lasted 4 months with no degradation.

    Even if you are not completely interested in the light, they make a pretty good battery charger. I only use AAA, but if you find AA size, you could use them to charge those batteries also.

    It’s good to ba aware of ways to repurpose items. Read carefully about what you are buying.

  4. I recently rummaged thru a bunch of junk in a shed at my mother-in-law’s. Between the black widow’s and other creepy crawlies, I salvaged three old oil lamps. After I cleaned them up, I found them to be Alladin lamps, both needing some parts and obviously chimney’s. Found everything on the Lehman’s website. I now have one lamp that produces the same amount of light as a 60 watt bulb and two more without the mantle that gives me the light of a 40 watt bulb. Not to mention a little piece of history that looks pretty good on the mantle.

  5. Oren…My husband and I used to do Civil War re-enacting and have all our oil lamps and cast iron. When our power goes out and we use the lamps,we will put a piece of mirror behind them. It makes it easier on the eyes if you want to read and it makes them brighter so you don’t step on small pieces from Lego’s. (If you have kids). They also put out a good amount of heat too.

  6. Brad M, I like the silent alarm idea…I’ve been really digging into engineering low-buck perimeter security lately (a boy in college doesn’t leave me a lot of money for the drone air force patrolling my “compound” that I dream about).
    Speaking of perimeter alarms…I’m not going to hijack this thread, but if anyone has seen or used the $7.99 door/window alarms at Harbor Freight, Dollar Tree stores have the exact same thing…for ONE DOLLAR!
    Sorry about that, back to the show, but I just had to put that out there. 😀
    I’m no electrical idiot, but I’ve not done the experimentation with solar circuitry that perhaps many others have. Has anyone looked at these lights as a super cheap way to collect enough small cells to put together and make something that will produce a lot of current?

  7. MI Patriot, is it okay that my kids are grown and I still sometimes step on Lego’s? 😀
    I’ll grow up some other time, LOL.
    Actually, they’re a pretty cool way to outline perimeter defensive positions and other spur-of-the-moment map making ideas.


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