Thursday, May 19, 2011

Custom Solar Light Brackets

Our home is just rural enough to be beyond the sidewalks, streetlights and sewer system; just urban enough that the parking lot lights of the businesses along the highway two blocks away light up the night sky. Unfortunately, all that eye-level light pollution makes it doubly hard around here to see the ground underfoot after dark.

After 20-some years of marriage, Aries and I have a finely-tuned poultry-care system. He's an early riser, and so are the chickens - he makes sure they have fresh water and food, then opens up the coop each morning. I take the evening shift - making sure everyone is in for the night, then closing up pen, coop, and nest boxes.

Oft-times, depending on my schedule, it's full-on dark before I head down to put the chickens to bed. Our lot is on a bit of a slope. The house and garage are at the top, with everything to the east downhill from that. There are steps from the deck and patio down, a sloping dirt ramp over on the garage end of the lot. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, maybe it's because there are more and more lights shining above the neighbors' house. But I've become much more nervous and cautious going down either flight of dark steps. I thought about painting a white stripe on the edge of each step, but didn't like the way that would look, nor would it hold up to winter-time snow shoveling. The same arguments worked against attaching a silver metal edging. Adding more light at my feet, to counteract the glare in my eyes, seemed the best solution.

So I'd been shopping for solar lights. I found a four-pack of medium-brightness ones I liked. As with most all I saw, they're designed as landscape lighting, with a pointy piece to stick into the ground. But I wanted them to illuminate my hardscape. I figured it would be no problem to find brackets to attach them to the edge of the steps. And that's where I was wrong. Despite checking all my local home stores, and even searching on-line, I couldn't find a thing. Luckily, I have a husband with a garage full of tools, plus a stash of wood scrap that more than equals my fabric stash. I can sketch out an idea, show him where I want it to go, and he'll make something that both works and looks nice. So now we have solar lights with custom brackets lighting up the steps down from both the deck and the patio ends of the house.

Using a bit of wood for a base, he drilled a hole part-way through to hold the light post. The post diameters were a weird metric size - too big for a 7/8" bit, but smaller than one inch. Rather than chisel out the extra from the smaller hole, he used the 1-inch bit and then shimmed the post with a wrapping of black electrical tape around the bottom. For the floating deck stairs, the brackets are attached to the edges of two of the wooden steps with glue and screws. On the patio stairs, the square wooden blocks are just set on either side of the stairs on the bricks that make up the sides. I set a smaller brick atop each wood block, behind the light post, to make sure the wind can't blow them over. They're great! The light of the full moon also has everything lit up lately, so I'm patiently waiting for the dark of the moon to see just how much light they provide. But I do feel so much more relaxed and secure going down either flight of steps in the dark now.

6 comments:

Ros said...

The solar lights look great. We have a number of solar lights including solar sensor lights (for when we come home in the dark) plus solar deck lights. Lights you just screw onto your decking. I will post some photos in a few days at http://wangigardenjournal.blogspot.com/ for you to have a look at. Ros

Mrs. J said...

Great idea!

Melynda said...

These brackets are great, thanks. Wanting to do chicken here now also, might need some solar help to get around after dark.

Dani said...

The solar light brackets are brilliant - clever husband :-)

Annodear said...

Fabulous! I hope they help :-)

Krutz said...

You can find patented brackets like this and others at Deckhands.us