Setting Up a DIY Halloween Solar Lights System


Halloween must figure right up there with the most popular dates on many folks’ event calendars, and there are few things that add more spine-chilling fun to any October 31’st nighttime festivities than cool Halloween lights. And what better way to light Halloween up than green energy solar lighting? If you find that concept a little daunting, don’t. DIY Halloween solar lights are easy to put together, environmentally friendly, and sure to impress guests or trick or treaters alike.

The great thing about DIY Halloween light projects is that the elements are readily available online or from a hardware store. No matter if you choose to follow European trends or the perennially popular New Orleans theme. So without further ado, let’s jump in.

Why Use Solar-powered DIY Halloween Lights

One of the strongest arguments for using solar lights for any purpose is the zero running cost factor and, obviously, the green element. In addition, they are safer around for outside use than mains grid lighting due to the low voltages involved.

When used to illuminated DIY Halloween decorations, they offer all these benefits while being effective. Solar-powered Halloween lights turned into decorations are a win-win solution for any Halloween party.

What Kind of Solar Lights Are Suitable for DIY Halloween Decorations

Just about any small, low-wattage solar light is suitable for illuminated Halloween decorations, whether store-bought or homemade. These include mobile, stake-mounted garden lights or permanent bollard-style lights. Low voltage and wattage solar string lights are also ideal for solar Halloween lights.

small paper pumpkin lanterns on string lights

In fact, just about any light that doesn’t generate much heat will work well. And that is a pretty important point. Many DIY Halloween decorations won’t take kindly to high heat levels, and a house fire is not an ideal Halloween ending. So the choice of lights is going to be important, not only from a voltage rating perspective.

With that in mind, most modest solar setups will produce between 12 and 24 volts. If you are using stand-alone lights, this isn’t a problem. However, if you are tapping into an existing solar installation, you’ll have to match the lighting to the system voltage.

Here are some ideal choices of solar lights ideal for Halloween lights.

Low Wattage LED String Style Solar Lights

These solar lights are great for draping around windows and doors or stringing around entertainment areas. And as LED types are rated at 2 watts, they will not generate excessive heat. The fittings are spaced 3 feet apart, which is ideal for suspending a range of Halloween decorations over the lamps.

They feature weatherproof and shatterproof lamps on a 50-foot lead and include a solar panel and batteries. The charge period is also relatively short at 5 to 6 hours. And that will give approximately 12 to 15 hours of operation.

The set also includes a light sensor to turn the set on or off at sunrise or sunset. And perhaps the coolest feature is a mode setting that allows for steady burn and 3 different flash modes.

Ideal Halloween Decorations for This Set

Pumpkin Buckets

Halloween pumpkin buckets lights

With a bit of adjustment, these plastic pumpkin buckets will be easy to suspend and secure on the string of lights. And at only 2.7 ounces, they won’t overload the light string if you alternate them along its length. Which is probably wise because they are a little pricy at $15.00. The upside is that these guys can be used with a stake and smaller bollard lights as well.

Trick or Treat Bags

These trick or treat bags are also ideal for hanging on a string of lights. Remember though, globe temperature is going to be important. It would probably be a good idea to leave the bags open at the top to allow any heat to escape. Outside of that, they will work like a charm.

Low Wattage LED Bollard Style Solar Lights

Mobile stake-mounted bollard lights work like a charm for adding some fun chill factor to a Halloween party. Although a little expensive, they can add masses of atmosphere and can be used as normal garden lights after Halloween.

They typically include their own mini solar system, making it really convenient to use. They also have a convenient day/night sensor that automatically switches them on and off.

Ideal Halloween Decorations for This Set

solar pumpkin lights in garden

  • All the decorations you would have suspended on the string lights can be used on this type of fitting.
  • In addition, you can release your creative self and draw scary Halloween faces on the solar light lenses with whiteboard markers. After the big event, you can simply erase your masterpieces if the lights are to be used for normal lighting.

Low Wattage LED Stake Solar Lights

Similar in design and concept to bollard lights, these fittings also work well for Halloween lights. And much like their bollard-style counterparts, they can be used to illuminate a wide range of Halloween accessories. They also include integral solar components, so they are equally mobile and easy to use.

Ideal Halloween Decorations for This Set

Paper Lanterns

This particular set of paper lanterns ships in various sizes ranging from 4 to 10 inches in diameter. And again, you can reach for that sharpie or marker and let the creative juices flow with scary artwork.

Plastic or Jar

With the lids removed, small plastic or mason jars can be balanced on top of LED stake lights. If they are not stable, a small blob of hot glue next to the lights’ solar element will keep them secure.

Building a Halloween Garden Lighting Solar System

All the examples we have used above are store-bought, ready-made solar lights. They include solar panels and batteries and are essentially simple drag-and-drop solutions. These products work well enough, but you may want to take things to the next level.

There are many great lighting products on the market that are not exclusively solar-powered. That’s not to say they can’t be, though. By inserting a globe of the correct voltage and wattage, any AC power fitting can be repurposed for solar use. And having access to a larger product range can expand your Halloween lighting horizons.

Now, if you want to expand your solar Halloween lights beyond off-the-shelf products, you’ll have to install a solar system. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, don’t be daunted by that prospect. And an added bonus to following this route is the additional general lighting options it puts on the table.

Store-bought Garden Solar Systems

If you do not have the time, ability, or inclination to build a solar setup from scratch, don’t sweat. There are many off-the-shelf solar power kits that will do the job just fine. Here are a couple of examples.

NOTE: You will typically have to buy a battery or batteries separately for these kits.

DIY Garden Solar Systems

If you are able and inclined to do it yourself, the solar power component for Halloween lights is relatively simple.

You will need.

  • A single or multiple solar panels
  • A charge controller
  • One or more batteries
  • A step-down transformer (optional)
  • A light sensor switch
  • A Toggle type override switch (optional)

The layout of a basic solar light setup is illustrated below in Fig. 1.

Solar Lights System Layout Circuit
Image: Paul Scott

How This Solar System Works

  1. The solar panel harnesses energy from the sun and converts it to a 12-volt electric current.
  2. The panel output is fed to a charge controller, which controls the charge rate of the system battery.
  3. The battery stores a 12-volt charge for use during hours of darkness.
  4. A light sensor switch automatically turns the LED lights on when it gets dark and off when it gets light.
  5. A set of “on” and “off” override switches are included to switch the lights on or off manually if required. These switches work by bypassing the light sensor switch.

Setting Up Your Halloween Solar Lights

Once the light string is up in position, the real fun starts – attaching the Halloween props to the solar lights. This is where there is no wrong or right, just you and your creative genius. That said, always remember “safety first.”

If you are using a ladder, have someone steady it on a level surface. Make sure all 4 feet are firmly on the ground, and don’t try to over-extend yourself.

It’s wise to test the solar lights before the fun and games start. Do this by covering the sensor with a dark cloth or using the bypass function if it’s still too light.

Wrapping Up

Halloween is always an event worth putting some effort into. Especially for the benefit of the little ones and trick-or-treaters. And great Halloween lights just add such a hit to the night that you shouldn’t spare effort with them.

And why not make it an exclusively solar DIY Halloween lights effort? Scary, chilling, fun, and green for Halloween lovers of all ages! Just can’t lose.

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