Installing Lovely Glass Bottle Solar Lights

I installed some nice skylights for our library using colored class bottles as solar light fixtures.

I have seen this done using plastic soda bottles, but I chose to use glass instead. I feel that glass will last longer and will not fade in sunlight.

It’s a pretty straightforward project if you have a thin roof (as below). If there is a great distance between roof and ceiling, you can use a ‘solar tube’ or similar to bring the light down to where you want it. I would imagine that painting the inside of aluminum flashing bright white would work well. You’ll still have colored light inside, but you won’t see the bottle. Depending on your aesthetics, that might be a plus. Solar light in general is a plus, so feel free to get creative and make it work. Nice interior light quality doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. It’s something many people can do themselves.

To do this, essentially, you cut a hole in the roof, insert the bottle, seal it (with caulk, etc) and waterproof it (pond liner).

Here’s what the bottles look like from underneath. Having a good mix of colors inside lends a rich feeling to the space.


Step One.

Cut a hole. For these bail-top wine bottles, a 3 5/8″ hole saw worked perfectly.

firstlyStep Two.

Fit bottle into flashing. Here the flashing has a rubbery membrane that makes the whole process very simple. After inserting the bottle, I applied clear caulk to further seal it.

secondlyStep Three.

Put it in place, caulk around everything, caulk from underneath, and fill bottles with water.

thirdlyBe sure to fill the bottles with water — the presence of the fluid helps the bottles act like a lens.

If it freezes in your area, you’ll want to take necessary precautions to prevent the bottle-water from freezing and thereby breaking the bottle. Mineral oil or alcohol might be a good clear nonfreezing substitute.

Adding a bit of bleach to the water in each bottle is good to keep things clean and clear.

Enjoy the free sunlight!


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