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After much sweat and tears I finally managed to build a shed at the bottom of my garden. However I tend to stay in there until late at night working and when I need to come back in the house it is too dark to see and I always end up kicking something. Then I saw some solar powered lights available for £29.99 from Amazon and decided to test them out.
I had my doubts about solar lighting because I thought that lights may be dim, the price would be expensive and a lot of greenhouse gases may be released in order to make them.
It is true that the good quality solar powered lights are expensive and even though the ones I bought are pretty bright they don't hold enough charge to last more than 7 hours. But I manage to overlook this because they are hassle free as they do not require plug sockets and the bulb rarely needs changing. Plus I no longer run the risk of walking into the pond in the middle of the night!
So in conclusion although I wish they could hold a charge for longer they are very useful and have a great potential.
We have been after some solar lights for ages, as we have rabbits in our shed at the bottom of our garden, and we wanted to be able to see it at night. These solar lights are great as they don't cost anything to run.
I bought a pack of 8 solar lights from argos, and I am really pleased with them. I paid £22 on offer in argos, they are usually £30. When we opened the box, we had to assemble all the lights ourselves, which wasn't hard, they were easy to put together. They do feel a bit flimsy but they look really nice, they don't look cheap.
You can choose whether you have them coloured or white. We have all ours coloured in our garden, I thought they would look tacky coloured, but they actually look really nice, it really brightens your garden up.
These lights are on spikes which are made out of stainless steel, which you stick into the soil. They recommend you put them in by about 10cm, so the height of them above ground is 30cm, so they are very small, but still give off a surprising amount of light.
The lights have batteries in them, which are supplied by argos, and also each light has 2 x 7w bulbs each which come in the pack.
I am really pleased with my solar lights, they provide enough light to light up the bottom of my garden, and it doesn't cost anything to have them on. Even though there isn't much sunlight at this time of year, they still light up at night for hours. They stay on for about 6-8 hours before they start going really dull, but maybe in the summer they will charge up more and stay on for a lot longer.
There are loads of different solar lights out there now, and they aren't too dear to buy, and look great in your garden, You can get all different designs, I have seen some in the shape of rocks, so they don't even look like lights. They can be used to light up drive ways, pathways, flowerbeds or just to add some light and colour to a part of your garden.
I highly recommend trying some solar lights if your after lighting up a part of your garden at night, and they are cheap to buy and run too.
I remember the craze for solar powered lights (at least in our house!) started years back, and at that time I seem to remember you could only get the standard white bulbs on black stands which simply stuck into the soil. Now there seems to be no end of types of solar lights for the garden, some tacky, some not so tacky.
I have a mixed opinion of solar lights, which I'll explain in this review. I like them because of the environment friendly attributes and low-maintenance; you don't have to plug them in, rely on batteries and so on. However, the plastic, transport, sale and so on all create carbon emissions, and often people buy them to look pretty rather than because they need them. So it's a bit of a mixed bag there.
Another issue is that they can be quite expensive, depending on where you buy them from. I've often found that cheaper solar lights just don't work as well (if at all), so they can be a bit of a misleading buy. Then again, other places, such as garden centres and catalogues - which shall not be named and shamed in this particular review - stick the prices up on poor quality solar lights anyway. Again, a minefield in the making.
The advantages, which I've briefly mentioned, include:
- They are a low-maintenance way to provide some light in your garden.
- I believe they are particularly good for lighting the sides of paths and ponds, although my garden is tiny so I've never used them for that.
- Once bought, they are environmentally friendly until you have to dispose of them.
- They can be quite decorative.
Solar lights are available in a variety of different forms now, and one which particularly interests me are strings of solar lights, which can be a good alternative to fairy lights (particularly at this time of year). However, I do find that these don't always work - I bought my parents a string of star lights which have never worked - and they are generally more expensive (often retailing at £30 or more). Another problem is that they come with a separate solar panel which looks quite out of place and can't be hidden away as it obviously needs to catch the sun.
One way in which I can see solar lights being used is for street lighting. Lamp posts are tall enough to catch the sun easily and I find it difficult to understand why councils aren't making an effort to investigate them further as surely if the technology is developed enough it would save them a lot of money each year - after the initial cost - as well as having the environmentally-friendly benefits. Where I live in Nottingham they are discussing turning off many of the street lights at night, which does worry me, and I think that solar powered lights would be a good compromise.
Solar powered lights are readily available on the internet (sites such as Amazon and many catalogue sites) as well as in garden centres, catalogues, shopping channels and even supermarkets. Priced from around £5 up to about £60, there are plenty to choose from and you don't even have to stick to white as many colours are available, including blue and red. A once novel form of lighting, they need a bit of a revamp and some improvements to make them popular again, but the potential is there.
My next door neighbour has an enviable garden, made even more beautiful by the addition of solar powered lighting. Over the years this has evolved and developed from simple lights in the borders to a full blown multicoloured evening display. In fact, I don't mind too much that the Walsall illuminations was cancelled due to lack of funding, because I can see something similar from the bedroom window for free! Inspired by her creativity, I thought that our garden may benefit from some tasteful lighting, although to be fair, judging the state of our garden, it probably looks best when it is pitch black outside!
I really like the idea of solar powered lighting, as I am no expert on wiring and wouldn't have a clue how to go about seting up wired electrical lights in the garden. Another bonus is that of course, it costs nothing to power the lights themselves, with all of the light coming from the sun. The prices of solar powered lights can vary, depending on whether you buy them individually or as part of a set. We bought ours from the local Focus store, where they cost 99p each, although you can actually get even cheaper lights in the "Pay Less" range for 49p each, which I think is a real bargain. The unit measures (HWD) 365 x 55 x 55 mm.
We bought three individual lights, because we wanted to see how well they worked before we committed to a fully illuminated garden. The lights were the "bodge in the ground" type, which consist of a fully weatherproof unit with the light atop a long spike, which you drive into the ground wherever you want the light. The top of the unit has a small solar panel, which charges the battery inside, which in turn powers a small white LED bulb. It is important therefore, that the solar panel is kept clean and put in a position where it will get plenty of light. Our garden, like most, has a shady side and a sunny side, so we spaced the lights at intervals in the sunny border, which is where all the pretty flowers are situated. The lights were very easy to push into the ground where we wanted them.
On the first night, we waited patiently for the evening to come. Of the three lights, one of them didn't actually work at all, and I wasn't sure whether the reason was a failed battery or bulb. As the light was cheap to begin with, I couldn't really be bothered to take it back to the shop for a refund, but I suppose this might be a problem, when you are buying the individual lights as they are loose in a tub in the store and you have no way of testing whether they work or not until you get them home. The other two lights cast a nice gentle glow over their immediate area of the border. The light was only dim, but it did create a nice effect and enabled us to enjoy the garden for a little longer even when it got dark. Lots of these lights spaced evenly along a pathway or border would look absolutely stunning.
With these lights, there are a couple of things you need to bear in mind. As I have mentioned already, the top may need an odd wipe every now and then so that the panels are working at full efficiency. ALso, you may need to consider carefully where you place the lights, as you may put one next to a small shrub that may, over time, grow big and overshadow the light. The lights must be kept in open positions so that they will get the maximum sun during the day. In the winter, they obviously won't work as well, which is a shame because we have the darker evenings, and in the summer, when they get lots of sun, it may not get dark until about 10:00! Another word of warning about the terrible fate that befell one of my two remaining solar lights...my son and his friend were playing footy in the garden and during the course of the game knocked the head clean off one of the lights. Of course, the boys didn't tell me about it, and I discovered the poor headless light glowing in the border. The light part still worked fine, as it was still connected to the power source, but without the spike, it was pretty useless and I had to bin it. So please, parents, keep your footy mad kids away from the solar lights. They are not floodlights!
So sadly, I am now down to one single, sad looking light in the middle of the border, which is also looking a bit sad and neglected! In the spring, I will be back at Focus to buy some more to keep it company, and create some really good effects in the garden. At 49p per light, I can certainly afford to!
If you've got even the smallest patch of grass, you might consider illuminating it up with some garden lights. This might be because you do a spot of entertaining after sun down, for added security, guidance down a dark path, or simply because it looks nice to have a few glowing bulbs to brighten the evening. You won't want to overdo it in a small lawn, but placed right they can really add something to an otherwise dreary plot.
Garden lights have been around since the advent of electricity, but they demand a contant power source and cabling which can be a pain, and if you've a large amount of lights, costly to run. Fairly recently solar powered lights have become cheap to produce and made widely available in garden centres, hardware stores and large supermarkets. The technology is pretty simply. Inside the light is a battery, pretty much like any normal rechargable. It's connected to a panel on the top of the light which absorbs the sunlight and tops up the battery. When the day ends, the light should (as long as it has been charged satisfactorily) power up and offer a attractive and somewhat useful glow.
But are they much good?
That depends. Solar powered devices need lots of sunlight to charge them up, garden lights being no exception. It's important to place them in such a way that they get the most sunshine possible, otherwise they won't re-charge those batteries which are inside. Placing them in such a way may not always be exactly where you want them. When there are long dreary grey days, especially during the winter you may not get enough or any sunshine in order to boost the batteries, so come dusk the lights won't even offer a hint of light.
The plus side of course is that you can pretty much stick them where you want, and move them around as there are no cables... Generally they will come with a stake which can be stuck into the ground with a gentle push so installation is easy. They look reasonably attractive in shiny metal. They are generally cheap, a few pounds for a low end model, but if you have the readies, go for more expensive models which may in the long run offer better value for money in terms of usability. I would imagine solar power is also safer than running cables, especially if you have pets or children running around.
I have several solar lights in my garden, they also have mosquito zappers built in. They were cheap, easy to place, however when it comes to delivering light they are pretty miserable, basically as we don't get enough sunlight unless it's in the height of summer - when you don't really need any light anyway in the evenings.
If you are looking to have enough light in your garden for a good game of chess, then solar power is probably not going to be the solution for you. Placed along your driveway however they may guide your visitors to the door, although you can't rely on them to always shine when you want them to.
I think you probably get the picture by now, so depending on what you need the lights for will be the deciding factor on whether you choose solar or traditional electric cable.
Since moving into this house and having a nice front garden we have been on the look out for nice solar powered lights, I eventually found some nice sleek silver coloured one in Poundland.
I had seen the same light's in other stores and they weren't cheap! I was really pleased with the find and bought 10 lights.
I have them scattered around the grass area of the front and they look really nice and give off a nice subtle glow without being to bright.
They have little sensors on the top and as soon as it gets dark the lights automatically light up, and when the sun comes up they go off again.
They are better than having electric lights placed around as these don't take up any of your electricity. I also like that they simply go into the ground on a little stake and they can be easily removed when it comes to cutting the grass.
I also recently bought a solar powered lantern to go in the back garden and it is quite effective and looks great up. It doesn't give off as much light as an electric light but it does the job and I am pleased with it.
I like that there is no wiring involved with these lights and the simplicity of fitting them.
They do vary greatly in price and style, so there's a whole load to choose from.
I find them pretty and effective and plan to get more for the back garden when it is finished.
You can even buy solar powered Christmas lights quite cheaply.
You cannot beat a set of solar powered lights for your garden. There require next to no maintenence and can be put up in minutes. The light given off isnt brilliant but they are definately worth having.
Buying solar lights is easy as nearly every general high street shop sells them. The quality of materials used, the design and the prices vary greatly. Although its up to you how much you want to spend and the design of light you like best.
Designs vary. To begin with you could only buy black plastic solar lights with round lamps today there is an abundance of sizes and shapes. These vary from round lamps and square lamps to simple poles with the lamp inbuilt into the tall slender tower. You can also now buy solar powered outdoor christmas lights and even solar powered rocks with lights in!
Prices vary from £1 a light to around £50 a light for more designer types. People vary in what they say about the cheaper solar lights but I think more often than not they are just as good as the more expensive ones.
One good point to solar lights is the fact that they are green. No electricity is needed so you are, in a way, saving the planet. It will also cost you nothing and you dont need to remember to turn them on each evening.
Maintenence wise they take no time to set up. Turn on the switch inside the lamp, twist back together and stake into the ground. With conventional garden lights you had to bury the wires underground leading to the possibility of cutting through it with the lawnmower.
Overall a great invention everyone can use.
I'm sitting indoors writing this & looking outside at the miserable weather wishing I could type this review outside in our lovely garden - such is our good old British weather eh?
I'm not really a gardener but there's only really me who does any in our family & I must admit that I'm enjoying looking after it more & mre.
Due to the credit crunch I've had a lo less money to spend on it though so have looked for cheaper alternatives for adding to the garden -eg separating existing plants & bulbs, swapping with neighbours & buying seeds off ebay etc.
Shopping TV has helped me get some ideas - eg QVC & Ideal World have some cracking programmes but I don't buy from them now - just pinch their ideas & look for cheaper elsewhere.
I managed to 'win' two sets of 10 solar lights from Price Drop TV when no one else seemed particularly interested in February & I paid under a tenner for each set which I thought was an excellent price for stainless steel ones.
When we first introduced solar lights in the garden they were more expensive than they are today yet seem to last longer.
Unfortunately our Pomeranian likes to eat plastic lights so we've switched ('scuse the pun) to stainless steel as he can't get his teeth into these - ha!
They came neatly presented in boxes & assembling the 20 only took me half an hour (anyone else could do it in 10 minutes) - clear directions were provided & it's just a matter of slotting together, removing the plastic which covers the solar panels & switching on the 'on' switch - easy peasy.
They took about 2 days to charge as it was February & initially the subtle white lights were quite dim but as the weather has improved they'e become stronger & look really effective & stylish.
I've thought carefully where to pop them as we have some exotic plants which are terrific & the lights give them an almost Mediteranean look, others are grouped together amongst some not very attractive bedding plants which adds a bit of interest to a boring part of the garden whilst others have been put in big planters & pots.
You can buy loads of types of solar lights now & my eldest daughter bought us some plastic white starry lights on a string which grace one of our trees & adds a contemporary look to the area.
I'm not struck by the gnome ones I've seen around - these look a bit spooky to me - I prefer the plain & simple.
They can be purchased from garden centres (usually more expensive), petrol stations, catalogues, supermarkets, markets, discount stores & even the pound shops.
I bought some colour-changing ones but unfortunately these don't work very well but there are plenty of single coloured ones available which are very attractive.
How long do they light up for? - well, ours last about 8-10 hours at the moment which is perfect.
- you don't need a garden - a balcony or window box will do.
- can find good but cheap ones if you look around/ buy out of season.
- great for lighting pathways.
- our local police said they MAY act as a deterrent for burglars.
- super for highlighting special features, plants, shrubs, ponds etc.
I bought a set of color changing solar light from Rosbys in the sale for £12.00. In the box I got four color solar lights that when it is dark they come on and change colors.
They are constructed of a stainless steel body hollow tube body with a solid spike sticking out the bottom to plant into the ground for stability. Then the color changing LCD is surrounded by a frosted plastic screen that slides into the body and the solar panel top. The solar panel top section can be removed to allow the lights to be switched to on or off position. These lights are of a stronger build than the cheap black plastic body solar lights that are easily damaged.
Mine have been knocked over and hit by balls and are still in one piece with no damage to any of them. I have some of the black plastic type solar lights and they tend to crack and get damaged easily and look cheaper. As these lights are of stainless steel body they look much stronger and cleaner.
The light changes color about every 3 seconds and goes from red - green - blue. They are great to watch and add a little something extra to the garden in the dark.
Although Rosbys are no longer trading I am sure other shops must sell these solar lights, maybe not at the same price.
I bought three lights from http://solarlights.net and am really impressed with them! They arrived two days after I ordered them & have shone brightly ever since(5 weeks ago now) I took them out the box and simply planted thgem in the garden, there's no wires the lights stand alone with all the solar gadgetarry enclosed in the units top section! They light up around two meters around them selves for around 8 hours every night, providing a bright white light! Strongly recomend them if your looking to light your garden this Summer - best of all they work all year round and you don't have to turn them on or off as they are automatically illunate at dusk!
Durable all-weather construction, with sensors that automatically switch the lights on when it gets dark