Newest Review: ... 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 d... more
A tale of three lights.....
Solar Powered Lights
Member Name: loopy-lou33
Solar Powered Lights
Advantages: Cheap. Look stunning.
Disadvantages: Keep away from footy playing kids!
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!
Summary: A cheap and effective way to cheer up any garden.
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