DIY Outdoor Lighting for the Deck

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Make your Own Solar Table Lamps

Summer days when you able to sit comfortably outside are so appreciated and we try to squeeze out as much time outdoors as our schedules allow.  Its so enjoyable to sit outside on the deck visiting, drinking wine and enjoying the fresh air. These solar powered table lamps light the deck so you can enjoy another hour or two.  The lamps cast enough light to play cards although reading is not possible.

Patio table set up with DIY lamps and lamp shades. DIY Outdoor Lighting, DIY Solar Lights, Solar Light Ideas

DIY Outdoor Lighting Tutorial

These lamps are so easy to make.  To make a set yourself you will need.

Unwanted table lamps

Plain yard solar lights

Dollar store wire mesh waste paper baskets

Paint of your choosing.

Updating the Lamps

These lamps don’t plug in so the first step is removing the plugin cord.  The wiring in these lamps and most others enters the lamp from the bottom.  Take the bottom cover off of the bottom of the lamp.  Cut the wires inside the lamp short enough that they no longer show. Place the bottom of the lamp back on.  These lamps have simple felt bottoms so we reattached them using crazy glue.

The underside inner workings of a table lamp. DIY Outdoor Lighting, DIY Solar Lights, Lamp Disassembly, Solar Light Ideas

Leave the upper part of the casing (where the light plugs in) intact.  This will hold your little solar lamp.  Because of the width of the top of our lamps Hubs had to widen the shade brackets a little so the solar lamps would fit.  He did this with a simple set of pliers and a little pressure.    Don’t overextend them, just move them a little bit at a time until the solar lamp fits.  If your solar lamp is smaller you may be able to skip this step.

Bending the sides on a DIY lamp upgrade project. DIY Outdoor Lighting, DIY Solar Lights, Solar Light Ideas

Fit the upper part of the shade brackets and the light part of the solar lamp back onto the lamp.   You need to keep the lampshade bracket for the shade to attach to.

Installing a solar lamp to replace an electric lamp. DIY Outdoor Lighting, DIY Solar Lights, Solar Light Ideas

Making the Lamp Shade

You can make the lampshade out of various things, an old metal fruit basket,  a metal bowl or a colander even.  You need a shade that covers the lamp workings and for our lamp, these dollar store wire wastebaskets were the right size.

The solar panel for the lamps is located on the top of the solar light.  Hubs needed to remove as much metal as possible from the bottom of the wastepaper baskets to allow the light to come through.  This is how he cut them out.

Cut out for a DIY solar lamp shade, for the sun. DIY Outdoor Lighting, DIY Solar Lights, Solar Light Ideas


Hubs cut these out using a small Dremel with a tiny cut off blade.  Depending on the basket you find, you may be able to cut them with tin snips.  The central piece he cut out using a simple drill.

Painting the Lamp

Paint the entire lampstand right up to the solar light any way you choose.  This lamp was originally very dark brown and it took two coats of chalk paint to make it white.  I then sprayed it with three coats of polyurethane.   Make sure to let them dry for a couple of days before any rain gets on them.

The baskets and the lamp brackets were spray painted metallic grey to match the top of the solar lantern.

A diy solar lamp with shade, for the outside patio or deck. DIY Outdoor Lighting, DIY Solar Lights, Solar Light Ideas

This last photograph is taken when the daylight is dwindling but it’s not yet dark.  Hopefully, it gives you an idea of what they look like at night.

A DIY solar lamp in the early evening. DIY Outdoor Lighting, Lamp Upcycle, DIY Solar Lights, Solar Light Ideas

So looking forward to the summer days outdoors.

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A set two upcycled lamps turned into DIY solar lamps. The solar lamps are white with metal shades that are weatherproof. They lamps are sitting on a clear glass table with aqua blue chairs.
related posts

The solar lights are part of our deck makeover that includes various inexpensive upcycles.  I also updated our patio furniture and made a cafe sign.  These inexpensive updates will make our tired patio usable for a couple more years.

Ombre Chalk Paint Patio Chair Makeover

Wood Spool Upcycle a Grillin and Chillin BBQ Sign


  1. It’s awesome that you have the classic looking lamp frame without it needing to be plugged in. It might be a fun party trick to leave some of the bottom wire exposed, so you can make people wonder how the lamp still works if the wire is cut!

  2. This is such a great idea! An inexpensive way to add a lot of character to an outdoor space!

  3. This is a wonderful idea. What a great way to recycle

  4. Love how these fit so beautifully into your ourdoor space Leanna. They seriously look so good and it must create such a lovely vibe at night

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Michelle: They lengthen the evenings by an hour or so. Hubs is especially in love with him. He laughs because he never knows what I am doing until its done.

  5. You never cease to amaze me with your cleverness!!! Such a great idea and I bet they look just beautiful at night for you and hubby to enjoy your new deck area!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Sam. They are a nice addition. I am almost done the deck I just need to finish two more chairs and add a couple more potted plants. Thank you for commenting.

  6. I love that lamp! What a great idea. I love lighting so this is super dreamy for me!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Right on Carolann. These are the first solar lights I have placed in my yard. I really like it in the early evening when they first turn on. I should probably add a couple more into the flower gardens. Thank you for commenting.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Debra: The lamps make the deck look more like part of our overall living space. Thank you for your feedback. Enjoy your week lady.

  7. What a fabulous idea for old lamps. I have several and I am working on living more eco-friendly so I love to reuse.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Elise: I had not considered their use for indoors. I will have to think about where I could put them indoors.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you for sharing and commenting Marie. The best part of these lamps is their versatility, because their is no cord you can place them anywhere.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      They were too small for our living room and hadn’t made it to the thrift store yet. It took me awhile to figure out how to put a shade on them. Thank you for commenting.

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