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Flea-Market Sconces with Solar Lights

by Stephie McCarthy

Marry together a beautiful solar light with a vintage sconce …

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… and your outdoor lighting can really shine!

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I eagerly awaited nightfall yesterday so that I could
see our new porch lights glow for the first time.
It was worth the wait!

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We bought our Hampton Bay LED Solar lights for a great price.
6 for $18.41 at Home Depot, and they are readily
available at Amazon too. Called "Bronze," they are
actually a heavy duty plastic material.
These use rechargeable batteries, energized by the sun.
We used just parts "A and D" from the diagram above.

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We found our sconces at community flea markets
and rummage sales for remarkable prices …
about 50¢ each. Thrift shops may charge more.
$4 - $5 dollars each. Still, a lot better than $30.

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Here are two of the sconce styles we are using outdoors.
The one on the right is a Colonial style
called "Baldwin," still available new
in Williamsburg for $150 each! (remember, we paid 50¢ each!)
The star sconce is often expensive too,
unless you know where to look!

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The solar light top breaks down into several pieces,
shown on the left. Don't pull out that red tab just yet!
Save your batteries until just before you hang these.
First, check out how we did this …

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Our lights fit easily into our sconces, with room to spare
after we removed these bottom tabs with a wire cutter.

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I thought the material would be hard to cut,
but luckily it was like cutting stale beef jerky.

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We planned to spray paint our lights, but we wanted to
keep the solar collector pristine. I made masks with
card stock with blue tape that would hold
without touching the solar collector at all.

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I roughed the plastic a bit with sandpaper.
I sprayed the "bronze" parts with Antique Brass metallic paint.
Go for a close match … not a perfect color match.
Of course, don't paint the clear shade of your lamp at all.

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Here are the two paints I used.
After my Rust-Oleum Antique Brass dried,
I painted the edge with Liquid Leaf Classic Gold
using a cotton swab.
This step is optional … I think the "leaf" will make
my paint job weather better on that rim.

LocTite Wrap for solar lights

Buy LocTite Tape

If the stem of your lamp fits well into your sconce,
you need only glue it in place.
Ours had a loose fit, so we snugged it up
with 10" strips of Loctite Go2 Wrap.
We wrapped this non-sticky tape around and around the
stem of the lamp for a snugger fit. Like so …

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Buy GE Silicone, Clear

GE Silcone holds this all together! Fill the socket of the
sconce with silicone. Put more on the stem of the lamp.
Press together and hold with tape until dry.
Put more silicone in the crack between lamp and socket
for a water tight seal.

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Our solar porch lights are about 15' from the ground.
Pat did the tricky work of hanging them.
Here he is measuring the old columns
to determine the center.

Hillman Hanger solar porch lights

Buy this Brass Hanger by Hillman

Here's the hanger style we used.
Made by Hillman, it can hold 75 lbs.,
is matching brass, uses 3 nails to
spread the weight, and a center band that
can be moved aside and slid back to lock
your object in place.
Shop around! We paid less than $3.00 for each.

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Our solar collector top came off with a quick turn.
The batteries are fresh, we need only pull the tab now!
Assemble the shade, the top, and the sconce together.
Hang your light where it can get lots of sun.

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Pat nailed our hangers to the top of our porch posts.
I got really excited at this point.
Our old 'Civil War' porch deserved this upgrade!

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Now we have three lights on the posts of the porch.
More will light our way around the garden!

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Last night, I was checking every 15 minutes
waiting for the first glimmer. Finally this one lit!
When all three were lighted, I was pretty charged up
myself! But these will need more sun to really glow
brighter. About 12 hours of sun a day is ideal.

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Remember, in winter these may not glow as brightly.
Also street lights can fool the sensors into thinking
it's still light outside.
Plenty of sunlight to charge them is the key!
Then, a nice dark night completes the magic.

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The rechargeable batteries which make the
LEDs work are replaceable over the long haul.

Let there be light!

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