low-cost solar garden lights

Dave_H

Flashlight Enthusiast
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Nov 3, 2009
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Location
Ottawa Ont. Canada
I just thought to start a discussion about solar garden lighting, what's new, good, or not-so-good.

For sure there is a lot of low-priced junk out there, which does not hold up long, maybe not even one year. OTOH there are some reasonable good ones out there at decent prices e.g. $10 or less.

To be sure, most of these produce only small amounts of light, good for a bit of local illumination, as "markers". None are not going to save enough energy to pay for themselves. I estimated one small lamp taking 75-100 years to break even, at current line costs! But they are convenient, moderately useful, and fun to test out, and just to look at.

Usual disclaimed, this is not product endorsement, just opinion and personal experience.

I just picked up an amazing metal/glass filament LED lantern from Home Depot for around $5 (reduced price). These are bulk packaged i.e. stuck into a cardboard base, almost no instructions or specs. It runs on 1AA NiMH; solar panel is about 4 sq. in. of crystaline silicon (mono- I think). The light is quite bright (14 lumens) and with a good days' sunlight this time of year (at 45 degree latitude and non-optimal aiming) will last at least 3-4 hours, then drops to dim for a while longer.

I may try to get a night shot, regrettably my phone camera does not do justice to it.

Dave

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TPA

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Aug 26, 2005
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457
Location
Florida
I've not played with solar outdoor lighting in years, but it traditionally was a lot of promises with very little performance. I know it's change A LOT since then.

One of my neighbors has a bunch of them in a single planter. After the hurricane they'd bring them inside to light up the condo then set them outside the next day. They used to have them along their pathway, but never put them back out, so now she has a "light plant" going.
 

Dave_H

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
1,401
Location
Ottawa Ont. Canada
On the left is flickering solar light from Dollar Tree for $1.50. Unlike another of
similar appearance, it uses a single self-flickering 5mm amber LED. Cell is 150mA NiCd
which sounds low, but light holds up well over the night. Effect is not totally realistic,
but overall good for the price!

On the right is an amazing little RGB colour-changing light from Giant Tiger ($1 each
in pack of 10). This one held up outside over the winter, also has been dunked a few times
in water and dried out, still OK. It uses a 40mAh NiMH button cell, which sounds low, but
holds up overnight with a good dose of sunshine.

Dave


CPF_LED_solar_garden_lights.JPG
 

melissarauch

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May 14, 2024
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1
Location
Maspeth, NY
I totally get what you're saying about solar garden lights! There's definitely a lot of cheap stuff out there that doesn't last, but it's always exciting to find a good deal. That metal/glass filament LED lantern you picked up sounds like a great find, especially for just $10. It's nice to hear it's bright and lasts a few hours even at your latitude.

I recently bought a few solar lights myself using an Inyouths voucher code and they turned out to be a decent buy for the price. They're not super bright, but they do a good job as markers along my garden path. Plus, it's fun to see them light up each night.
but I'm definitely going to give these amazing lights a try for sure.
 

Dave_H

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
1,401
Location
Ottawa Ont. Canada
There are some downsides to keep in mind for solar garden lighting.

You will never recover the cost of product in power savings. A ballpark estimate I did on $1.40 (at the time) small DT solar spot yielded 75-100 years based on current ac power rates; many times the life of even the best solar lights, which this was not. That does not include energy required to manufacture the product which would be very hard to estimate.

Also, some still use NiCd cell which may be non-replaceable, or with sufficient difficulty to discourage most people. Only product being properly e-recycled would stop Cadmium from reaching landfill. Cadmium is toxic and one of six materials (four heavy metals and two brominated flame retardants) covered by "RoHS" regulations.

I just found another DT mini spot which is impressive, but contains 500mAh NiCd cell, and was very difficult to open; sustained some minor damage (but still works).

Dave
 

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