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Crafting A Camping Bucket Light: DIY Camping Illumination


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Marcella Stouffer



Welcome to the world of DIY camping! If you’re an adventurous soul who loves spending time in the great outdoors, you’ve likely experienced the need for reliable illumination during your camping trips. While flashlights and lanterns are great options, why not take your camping experience to the next level by creating your very own camping bucket light?


A camping bucket light is a versatile and portable lighting solution that can enhance your camping experience in numerous ways. Whether you’re setting up your campsite, cooking dinner, or simply enjoying some evening relaxation, this DIY project will provide you with a functional and visually appealing lighting setup.


Not only is crafting a camping bucket light a fun and engaging activity, but it also allows you to customize your lighting solution according to your own preferences and needs. Plus, the satisfaction of using something you created yourself adds an extra level of pride and accomplishment to your camping adventures.


In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of creating your very own camping bucket light. Don’t worry if you’re not a DIY expert – this project is beginner-friendly and only requires a few basic materials and tools. So, gather your supplies and let’s embark on this adventure together!


Materials Needed

Before we dive into the process of creating your camping bucket light, let’s gather the necessary materials. Don’t worry, you won’t need any complex or hard-to-find items. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  1. A plastic bucket: Choose a sturdy and waterproof bucket that can hold your lighting components. It should have a lid or be able to accommodate one.
  2. LED string lights: Look for LED lights that are safe for outdoor use and can be powered by batteries.
  3. A drill: You’ll need a drill with various drill bit sizes to create holes in the bucket.
  4. A switch: Choose an on/off switch that is suitable for outdoor use.
  5. Wire: Ensure you have enough wire to connect the switch and LED lights.
  6. A battery holder: Select a battery holder that fits your chosen batteries and can be easily attached to the bucket.
  7. Batteries: Depending on the power requirements of your LED lights, choose the appropriate batteries to power your camping bucket light.
  8. Alligator clips: These clips will help you connect the LED lights to the switch and battery holder.
  9. Electrical tape: Use electrical tape to secure the wires and make them safe and tidy.
  10. Scissors: You’ll need scissors to cut the wire and electrical tape.

These materials can be easily found at a hardware store or online. Make sure to double-check your supplies before starting the project to avoid any disruptions along the way. Once you have everything ready, let’s move on to the next step: preparing the bucket!


Step 1: Preparing the Bucket

The first step in creating your camping bucket light is to prepare the bucket itself. Follow these steps:

  1. Clean the bucket: Start by cleaning the bucket thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. You want a clean surface to work with.
  2. Remove the handle (optional): If your bucket has a handle that may obstruct the placement of the lights or lid, you can choose to remove it. Use pliers or a screwdriver to detach the handle, ensuring you don’t damage the bucket in the process.
  3. Paint or decorate (optional): If you want to add a personal touch to your camping bucket light, consider painting or decorating the exterior. Choose outdoor-friendly paint or stickers that can withstand the elements. Let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.
  4. Prepare the lid (if applicable): If your bucket has a lid, make sure it fits securely. You may want to clean and paint the lid as well to match the bucket’s appearance.

By preparing the bucket, you ensure that it is clean and ready for the installation of the LED lights, switch, and battery holder. It’s also an opportunity to make your camping bucket light aesthetically pleasing by adding your personal touch. Once you’ve completed this step, move on to the next section: drilling holes in the bucket.


Step 2: Drilling Holes

Drilling holes in the bucket is an essential step to allow the LED lights to illuminate the surroundings. Follow these steps to drill the necessary holes:

  1. Plan the hole placement: Decide where you want to place the holes on the bucket. Consider areas that will evenly distribute the light and provide the desired illumination angle. It’s a good idea to mark the hole positions with a pencil or marker.
  2. Choose the drill bit: Select a drill bit that is slightly larger than the diameter of your LED lights. It’s important to choose the right size to ensure a snug fit for the lights.
  3. Drill the holes: Secure the bucket in place and start drilling the holes, following the marked positions. Apply gentle pressure and drill slowly to avoid cracking or damaging the bucket. Be careful not to drill through both sides of the bucket.
  4. Check the hole size: After drilling each hole, test-fit the LED lights to ensure they fit properly. If the holes are too small, use a larger drill bit to widen them. Take your time to achieve the desired fit.

Remember, the number and size of the holes depend on your preference and the brightness you want to achieve. You can create a pattern of evenly spaced holes or position them randomly for a unique lighting effect. Once you have drilled the necessary holes and ensured a proper fit for the LED lights, it’s time to move on to the next step: wiring the lights.


Step 3: Wiring the LED Lights

Now that you have the holes drilled in the bucket, it’s time to wire the LED lights. Follow these steps:

  1. Start by cutting two lengths of wire. Make sure they are long enough to reach from the LED lights to the switch and battery holder.
  2. Strip the ends of the wires: Using wire strippers or a sharp knife, remove a small amount of insulation from the ends of each wire to expose the metal conductor.
  3. Connect one wire to the positive terminal of the LED lights: Look for the positive (+) symbol on the LED lights or consult the manufacturer’s instructions. Attach one wire to this terminal, ensuring a secure connection. You can use electrical tape to hold it in place.
  4. Connect the other wire to the negative terminal of the LED lights: Locate the negative (-) terminal on the LED lights and attach the second wire to it.
  5. Thread the wires through the holes: Take both wires and thread them through one of the holes in the bucket, starting from the inside. Pull them through until the LED lights are flush against the bucket.
  6. Secure the LED lights inside the bucket: Use hot glue or adhesive tape to secure the LED lights in place, ensuring they are centered on each hole.

With the LED lights wired and securely attached, you have successfully created the lighting component of your camping bucket light. Now it’s time to move on to the next step: attaching the switch.


Step 4: Attaching the Switch

The switch is an important component that allows you to control the on/off functionality of your camping bucket light. Follow these steps to attach the switch:

  1. Choose a suitable location: Decide where you want to position the switch on the bucket. It should be easily accessible and in a convenient spot for operation.
  2. Mark the switch placement: Use a pencil or marker to mark the location of the switch on the bucket. Double-check its placement to ensure it won’t interfere with the LED lights or other components.
  3. Drill a hole for the switch: Select a drill bit that matches the diameter of the switch. Carefully drill a hole at the marked position, ensuring you don’t go through both sides of the bucket.
  4. Test-fit the switch: Insert the switch into the drilled hole to check if it fits snugly. Make any necessary adjustments to the hole size if the switch is too loose or too tight.
  5. Attach the switch: Once you’re satisfied with the fit, secure the switch in place using the provided nuts and washers. Ensure it is tightly fastened to prevent any movement or disconnection during use.
  6. Connect the wires to the switch: Take the wires coming from the LED lights and connect one to each terminal of the switch. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper wiring, ensuring a secure connection.
  7. Use electrical tape to secure the wires: Wrap electrical tape around the exposed wire connections for added safety and to prevent any accidental disconnections.

With the switch properly attached and wired, you now have control over when to illuminate your camping bucket light. Keep in mind that the positioning and size of the switch may vary depending on the type you choose. Now, let’s move on to the next step: securing the battery holder.


Step 5: Securing the Battery Holder

The battery holder is an essential part of your camping bucket light, as it provides power to the LED lights. Follow these steps to securely attach the battery holder to the bucket:

  1. Determine the placement: Choose a suitable location on the bucket to secure the battery holder. It should be easily accessible and away from any potential moisture or damage.
  2. Mark the placement: Use a pencil or marker to mark the location where the battery holder will be attached. Double-check its positioning to ensure it won’t interfere with other components.
  3. Prepare the bucket: If necessary, clean the area where the battery holder will be attached to ensure a clean and secure bond.
  4. Apply adhesive: Use a strong adhesive, such as epoxy or heavy-duty tape, to secure the battery holder onto the marked spot. Follow the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.
  5. Press and hold: Apply pressure to the battery holder for a few minutes to allow the adhesive to bond properly. Make sure the holder is securely attached and won’t come loose during use.

By securing the battery holder to the bucket, you ensure a stable and reliable connection between the batteries and the LED lights. This step is crucial to prevent any accidental disconnections or damage to the battery holder. Now that the battery holder is in place, let’s move on to the next step: testing the light!


Step 6: Testing the Light

Before finalizing your camping bucket light, it’s important to test the functionality and ensure everything is working as expected. Follow these steps to test the light:

  1. Insert the batteries: Open the battery holder and insert the appropriate batteries as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure they are inserted correctly, paying attention to the polarity indications.
  2. Turn on the switch: Flip the switch to the “on” position to activate the LED lights. Your camping bucket light should now illuminate, providing a warm and inviting glow.
  3. Check for any issues: Pay attention to the brightness and uniformity of the light. Ensure that all the LED lights are functioning properly and that there are no loose connections or flickering.
  4. Adjustments if necessary: If you encounter any issues during the testing phase, double-check the wiring connections, switch position, and battery placement. Make any necessary adjustments to address the problem.
  5. Test in different lighting conditions: To assess the effectiveness of your camping bucket light, test it in various lighting conditions, such as during the day, in dimly lit areas, and at night. This will allow you to gauge its brightness and visibility.

By testing the light, you can identify and address any issues before finalizing your camping bucket light. It’s crucial to ensure that all components are working properly and that the light meets your expectations. Once you’re satisfied with the testing, we can move on to the final step: adding the finishing touches.


Step 7: Finishing Touches

Now that your camping bucket light is fully functional, it’s time to add the finishing touches to enhance its appearance and durability. Follow these steps to complete your DIY project:

  1. Trim the wires: If there are any excess wires sticking out from the LED lights, trim them carefully using scissors. Be sure to leave some extra length in case adjustments or repairs are needed in the future.
  2. Secure the wires: Use electrical tape to secure the wires along the inside of the bucket, making sure they are neatly organized and out of the way. This will prevent them from getting tangled or damaged during use.
  3. Add a protective layer (optional): To protect your camping bucket light from the elements, you can apply a clear waterproof sealant or a layer of clear coat spray. This will help prolong the lifespan of your creation and keep it looking pristine.
  4. Personalize your bucket (optional): If you want to add a personal touch, consider decorating your camping bucket light further. You can use stickers, stencils, or paint to customize the exterior with your favorite designs or camping-related themes.
  5. Attach a handle or strap (optional): If you prefer to make your bucket light more portable, you can attach a sturdy handle or strap to the sides of the bucket. This will allow you to easily carry it around or hang it from a tree branch.

With these finishing touches, your camping bucket light is complete! You’ve successfully transformed a simple bucket into a functional and unique lighting solution for your camping adventures. Now, it’s time to pack it up and head out into the great outdoors to enjoy your newly crafted creation.


Remember, as with any DIY project, it’s always important to prioritize safety. Ensure that all electrical components are disconnected before making any adjustments and be cautious when handling tools and equipment. Take pride in your handiwork and enjoy the illuminating experience your camping bucket light provides!



Congratulations on successfully creating your very own camping bucket light! By following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide, you have transformed a simple plastic bucket into a versatile and portable lighting solution for your camping adventures.


This DIY project not only allows you to customize your lighting setup according to your needs and preferences, but also adds a touch of creativity and personalization to your camping experience. The satisfaction of using something you crafted yourself enhances the enjoyment and sense of accomplishment during your outdoor excursions.


From preparing the bucket to drilling holes, wiring the LED lights, attaching the switch, securing the battery holder, testing the light, and adding the finishing touches, each step has contributed to the creation of a functional and visually appealing camping bucket light.


Whether you’re setting up your campsite, cooking meals, or simply enjoying the evening ambiance, your camping bucket light will provide you with ample illumination and a cozy atmosphere. It’s a versatile lighting solution that can be used in various camping situations, enhancing your overall experience.


Remember, safety is always a priority when undertaking any DIY project. Make sure to handle your tools and materials with care, follow proper electrical wiring procedures, and take precautions to avoid any potential hazards.


Now that you have completed your camping bucket light, it’s time to pack your gear, grab your creation, and embark on thrilling adventures under the starry sky. Enjoy the warm glow of your personally crafted lighting solution and create lasting memories on your camping journeys!