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As I look at my solar rock light, squatting like an ugly grey toad in my garden, I am at a loss to explain just what tempted me to slip it into my basket in Wilkinson's. I love garden lighting, and I always have a large collection of lanterns, candles and solar lights around my garden in the summer. I can only imagine that I thought the rock light would slip inconspicuously in between my pots and tubs and twinkle away in an attractive manner. I was sadly mistaken!
When I bought the solar rock light it was entirely wrapped in clingfilm and covered in labels, thus disguising its unattractive exterior. When I unwrapped it, I immediately realised that the 'reaslitic' rock exterior was a very long way from a natural look. The exterior of the lamp is made from a hard grey plastic, wrinkled into artificial rock-like folds and bearing a remarkable similarity to the fake poo that my sons used to buy as a joke.
It stands 8cm high, so can be hidden discretely beside a pot or stone. Any other resemblance to a natural geological occurrence is completely wiped away by the large and ugly solar panel on top. At 4.5cm square, this solar panel is obviously necessary, but takes up the entire top surface of my 'Rock' and thus destroying any hope of disguise.
At the front is an disproportionately large circular lamp, measuring 5cm in diameter.
The rock light came with a full and detailed set of instructions - which were genuinely useless. They informed me that I would require a screwdriver to set my lamp up, but then didn't tell me what I had to do with it, so I ended up unscrewing the battery compartment and putting it back together again - for no apparent reason whatsoever.
The instructions also told me to choose soft ground to enable spike to be pushed in, but little plastic rock obviously has no spike as it's flat bottom is designed to sit on earth or concrete.
The set of instructions were complete with the totally unnecessary reminder that I should not put the solar light into a dark room , or it would not charge up.
The most important question must be, what sort of light does it give out? Is it twinkling, soft, mellow? Will it gently highlight the plants in your garden or welcome you to your front door with a soft glow? No ... the solar rock sends out a beam much like a bicycle lamp - huge strong white light that makes my family think that somebody has left a torch lying in the garden with the on switch turned on. Its harsh beam totally fails to enhance my garden in any way.
When I look out into the garden, the rock light actually spoils the ambience of the other small and softer solar lights that are out there and I have had to move it to my front door so that I no longer have to look at it .
~~Care and maintenance~~
A rather nasty little feature of my rock light is the slightly raised battery casing on the bottom of the light. This makes a perfect dark nest for woodlice and a great hiding place for slugs. I have picked up my light several times to be showered with dislodged inhabitants.
The instructions told me not to immerse my light in water but that it was safe to leave outside in heavy rain. My rock has remained untouched by the recent monsoon weather we have been experiencing and it's shiny grey exterior is unmarked by wear.
If I wanted to keep it in working order, I would bring it inside during the winter as the instructions warn me that I should not leave it outside in snow or frost.
The battery used is a NiMH 1.5v AA battery which I could replace if I ever wanted to do so.
To be fair, the description on the packaging told me that it was a "super bright white energy saving LED light", so I really shouldn't complain at it's brightness or intensity. I can however complain about the ugliness as my other solar lights are somewhat cheaper and very much more attractive.
I really cannot think why anybody would want to buy this solar light. I have seen larger versions outside holiday cottages, providing a strong light to guide guests back up the garden path, but I still feel that there are better, cheaper and more attractive alternatives out there.
My light cost me £2.98 from Wilkinsons