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I ordered my first solar jar from a company called Lights4fun, and I was so delighted with it that I decided to buy one each for all the females in my family at Christmas. However, when I came to do my online Christmas shopping at the beginning of December I discovered that Lights4fun were no longer selling solar jars. I did a quick search on both Google and Kelkoo to find any replacement suppliers, but the solar jars I found all seemed a little too expensive. In the end I found a link to Maplins Electronics who were selling solar jars at only £3.99 compared to the £8 I'd paid Lights4fun and the £20 that Suck UK wanted. At only £3.99 a time, I decided I could afford to treat myself to a second solar jar as well as getting several more for the rest of the females on my Christmas list.
~~~ WHAT IS A SOLAR JAR? ~~~
In case you're wondering, a solar jar is basically a solar powered lamp. During the day the jar stores energy from the sun's rays through the solar panel hidden inside the lid of the jar. When dusk arrives, the rechargeable battery sealed inside the lid automatically switches itself on and provides a really pretty light show via colour changing light-emitting diodes (LEDs). That's the science bit over and done with. Once charged, the jar continuously switches itself between shades of red, pink, green and blue, with flashes of yellow, turquoise and purple in between. It's a lovely atmospheric light and a real conversation piece for the centre of your table.
The Maplins solar jar is made from frosted glass, and the lights are therefore diffused to provide a soft, warm and glowing light show. It's fairly lightweight jar and stands about 11.5cm high. To be honest it's nothing special to look at during the day - just a plain glass jar - softly rounded in shape with a moulded glass lid.
As the solar jar can be used both indoors and outdoors, the lid is fully sealed with a rubber rim, so it's nicely weatherproof and robust. If you do leave it outdoors, then it's recommended that you wipe the top of the jar every now and then, just to keep the solar panel clean. It is not recommended that you use any solvents to clean the jar; a damp cloth will do the trick.
~~~ HOW DOES IT WORK? ~~~
As you'd imagine, a solar jar cannot function without sunlight. Once you place your jar in sunlight, the solar panel inside the jar converts the direct sunlight into electricity and stores it inside the internal rechargeable battery. Once night falls, a photo electric cell turns the lights on automatically using the stored power in the battery. The length of the night-time light show is dependent on the amount of sunlight stored in the battery. If it's a really sunny day, and your jar has sat sunbathing on the patio for about eight hours, then your night-time light show *should* last up to four, five or six hours. Unfortunately on cloudier days, your jar doesn't get to store as much sunlight, and the light show will be considerably shorter.
The jar is best placed in direct sunlight - avoiding any trees, bushes or shrubs which may cast a shadow over it. In the summer I pop mine on a table in our garden where it can receive rays from early morning right through to early evening. If you're without a garden, then you can place your solar jar on a sunny window ledge (a south facing window is best), and it will charge itself up...just a little more slowly as the glazing will slightly reduce the power of the sun's rays.
Finally, you're not supposed to place the solar jar under or near any artificial bright lights as it may confuse the night time sensor. I must admit, that I have cheated on a dull day, and given my solar jar a bit of a boost by placing it under a spotlight. I've kept the artificial light boosts to a minimum as I don't wanted to confuse my jar, and so far (touchwood) it's been fine.
~~~ GETTING STARTED ~~~
When you first receive your Maplins solar jar, you need to open the jar by removing the lid. It's a fairly tight fit with a rubber lip around the rim to keep it weatherproof, so a twisting and pulling action is required. Once you've removed the lid, you'll see an "On/Off" switch and a tiny LED battery. You need to set the switch to "On", and then place the jar in the sunniest spot you can find, leaving it to engorge itself on plenty of the yellow stuff. Once the LED battery has had a solar charge it will then light up automatically every time it detects dusk. You can then either leave the switch permanently "On" so it lights up automatically every night, or switch it to "Off" if you wish to conserve its energy (or if it's just a dull day, and you know the jar isn't going to produce much of a light show).
If you leave the solar jar switch in the "On" position, your solar jar will switch on automatically as soon as it detects dusk...(often surprising you!). The jar will then give out light until the battery runs out. A fully charged solar jar is *supposed* to provide up to six hours of light at night according to the manufacturer. However, I'd say that the most I've ever gotten out of mine is four to five hours of light, even when it's been sunbathing for eight hours plus during the day.
The light show given off by the solar jar is truly delightful, but it's a soft and glowing light. It's not a high intensity beam by any stretch of the imagination. It's not bright enough to read a book by, but it does give off a warm and welcoming glow. It shines red, pink, blue, green and then back to red in a continuous unbroken pattern. As it changes to the next colour you get brief glimpses of turquoise, purple and yellow. The jar gives off a bright emerald green and a deep sapphire blue hue - both of which are much brighter than the ruby red beam. The colours change every ten seconds or so, and the intensity of the colours is dependent on the amount of sunlight the jar has taken in during the day. In other words, your greens are greener, your blues bluer and your reds redder if the jar has had its full eight hours plus in the sun.
~~~ ANY DIFFICULTIES OR DRAWBACKS? ~~~
To be honest, these solar jars are probably better suited to a more exotic climate than ours. With our changeable UK weather, we're not going to be able to provide the jar with as much sunlight as it needs to function at its best. During winter time, your solar jar is never going to provide you with much of a light show. A Mediterranean or Caribbean sun is more likely to bring out the best in a solar jar, and it's always going to struggle to perform to par in a grey, rainy and cloudy average UK day.
Although it makes a delightful addition to your table if you're having a barbecue or party in the early evening, the light it gives out is very soft and not at all ideal for trying to do any tasks by. Similarly, I'm not so sure that it would make a good night light for a child, as it does tend to go out completely by about 2am to 3am, and your child may therefore wake up in total darkness at 4am to find his or her pretty lightshow has gone dead and Nasty Darkness is now in charge.
Unfortunately, with the Maplins model the LED battery compartment is sealed in the lid, so if it stops functioning for any reason, the battery is non replaceable, and your jar may become defunct. Similarly, Maplins state on the instructions that the life of your LED battery is not likely to progress beyond two years. So once the battery stops working, you've going to be left with a colourless and featureless jar. Other solar jar models, by companies like Suck UK, have left their rechargeable batteries unsealed so you can replace them if and when you need to.
~~~ RECOMMENDED? OH YES ~~~
As you may have gathered by now, I love my solar jar. Come the summer I shall place it in the sunniest spot I can find in the garden, so it's nicely charged up and ready to accompany me upstairs to bed later that night. I love watching the colours flickering inside the jar, especially if it's been a particularly sunny day, as the hues are just that much more intense.
When the jar suddenly lights up automatically at dusk, it's a great talking point for any visitors. It really is a lovely mood piece and it creates a delightful ambiance in whichever room it's placed in. It's small enough to be carried into any room of your house or your garden to create a lovely little light show. I've yet to try it, but it would be great to pop on a shelf in the bathroom, light a few scented candles and create a soothing background for the perfect relaxing bath (not forgetting a variety of Lush products to throw in the water too!)
It's doesn't have much practical use - granted, but it's such a very pretty thing. Highly recommended as a talking point, a mood enhancer and a fairly novel present for young or old.
~~~ PRICE AND AVAILABILITY ~~~
PO Box 34
The current cost of a solar jar is £3.99 both in store or online. If you buy it online postage and packing costs are from £2.99. Do remember to visit Maplins Electronics via a cashback site like Quidco and Top Cashback as you *should* get at least 7% cashback on any online purchases.
The jar can be viewed at http://www.maplin.co.uk/colour-changing-solar-light-jar-227456
Maplins Electronics aren't the only manufacturer of solar jars: you can buy them all over the place in different formats and names. Some call theirs sun jars, others moon jars. Some only emit one colour instead of a variety of different shades. Whatever shape or colour, you can expect to pay anything between £4.00 to £20.00 for a solar jar.
~~~ TOP TIPS TO GET THE MOST FROM YOUR SUN JAR ~~~
* Can be used both indoors and outdoors
* All solar jars need as much direct sunlight as possible
* The solar jar won't work during the day, or in a lit room
* Position to face south wherever possible, avoiding overhanging branches or leaves
* Avoid placing the jar under or near bright artificial lights as it may confuse the delicate sensor inside and the light may then stay off at night
* Your solar jar will not perform as well on dull days or in winter
* UK residents should not expect their solar jars to work everyday of the year as our weather is just not kind enough!
"Jam jars store jam, the Sun Jar collects and stores sunshine so that you can use it at night" - or so the text on the box claims. If you hadn't already guessed, the Sun Jar is a solar powered light shaped like a traditional 'mason' jar.
Not to be confused with the 'Moon Jar' (manufactured by the same company 'Suck UK'), the Sun Jar emits a warm yellowy glow as opposed to a cool blue one. The Jar is well made and fairly heavy for its size (10.2 x 10.2 x 15.2 cms) at just under 700 grams - it can even be used as an outdoor product due to the rubber seal around the jar's lid.
To use the jar, you just need to leave it in a sunny place during the day - a window-ledge would be perfect, providing it gets a lot of light. In the evening when the light in the room drops to a certain level of dimness, the lamp will automatically begin to glow via three internal LEDs. The light that is produced isn't especially bright, but it's ambient and relaxing, creating what looks like an internal ball of energy.
So how much does the product cost? - well, currently it can be picked up for just over £15 from amazon.co.uk.
The Sun Jar does need quite a lot of sunlight to charge - several hours worth in fact, and this in theory should provide a good few hours of glow. This means that if your window-ledges are sheltered by other buildings, then the product won't work especially well. Fear not however, you can cheat - all you have to do is remove the Sun Jar's internal AA battery and charge it up with a regular battery charger - this way, you can get a lot of light without any need for that huge hydrogen ball we call the sun.
Once you've had enough of the light, the jar can be turned off via a button next to the solar panel - easily accessed by opening the lid of the jar. Overall, the Sun Jar is a transportable and well made novelty gift which would be perfect for use during barbecues, or as a child's natural nightlight - recommended.
When we lived in our previous flat, it was in the centre of town so during night it wasn't dark in the room because of streets lights. Now when we moved into a house, there is no street lightening around. So at night it's so dark inside - I don't feel very well if wake at night. Especially when I need to give my daughter a dummy or just cuddle her if she wakes up.... I was thinking to buy a night light but couldn't decide what I want. I needed a light to be on all night that I didn't have to turn it on, it shouldn't be bright, small electric usage.... And one day browsing online I found those Solar (Sun) Jars for sale. And immediately bought two from seenontv24.com: one for us and another one for a friend.
Solar Jar is a weatherproof, eco friendly Jar that stores the sun's rays during the day and then releases waves of colours in the evening through the energy efficient colour changing LED's.
Available colours: amber, blue, pink. I managed to buy with 2 colours - blue and yellow.
Prices vary from around £10.
Available to buy from different online fun gift shops.
Suitable for Indoor and Outdoor use.
HOW TO USE
The Solar Jar has a built-in light sensor, and switches on and off automatically when it gets dark or light. The Solar Jar MUST be in the dark to light up (it will not illuminate during daylight or in a lit room). If you do not want your Solar Jar to light up when it gets dark, press the switch next to the solar panel to the OFF position.
The Solar Jar battery needs sun to become charged. So leave your Solar Jar outside or in a sunny window in DIRECT SUNLIGHT to charge (electric light indoors is not bright enough!). It will require several hours and, in overcast conditions, it is recommended charging for several days. A full charge of sunshine will provide up to six hours of soothing light at night.
The Solar Jar may very slowly charge in very bright artificial light - aim a lamp aimed directly over the jar for a couple of hours - it will speed the charging process, but normal indoor electric light will not help.
After many charges, the battery may lose its ability to store energy. The battery should be removed and replaced with a standard AA rechargeable battery. (Never use a non-rechargeable battery in your Solar Jar).
In winter, or during cloudy weather, Solar Jar may illuminate for less time than usual, flickers, or does not light up. In times of prolonged bad weather (when there is not enough natural sun to charge your Solar Jar) the battery can be removed and charged in a normal battery charger.
When I received a parcel with my Solar Jar and opened the box I was a little bit confused.... First thing - there were no instructions how to make it to light up and second - there were 3 settings instead of two... So I had to look for information online. And realised that those 3 setting mean that my Solar Jar has 2 colours (blue and amber), then put the Jar near the window to catch the sun light. The worst thing was to wait and not to be sure if it's working or not. In evening it was getting darker so I started checking if Jar's light is on or not. It wasn't... What a disappointment - got a parcel, waited all day and nothing... Then I hopelessly started pushing the panel and again nothing... All angry carried the Jar into an empty room. Same second as I entered the room, the jar LIT UP!!! You should have seen my smile! So the Jar is working perfectly since then.
I keep our Solar Jar in a window all the time. In evening when it is getting darker I turn it off and turn it on when I go to bed. Usually use the amber (yellow) light. It's more soothing and our bedroom looks better than with the blue one.
I am really glad I bought this Solar Jar. It's a cheap and eco option to have soft light during night at home. It's great to get up at night when my little girl wakes up. I don't have to look for my phone or turn on the light because we have a perfect night light now.
Usually I go to bed late - 12 or 1 o'clock. So that's the time when I turn our Solar Jar on. First night I was worried how long the Jar is gonna be lit????... So every time I woke up that night I look at the Jar. It was getting bright outside but the Jar was still on. So it stays lit up for about 6 hours (just as instruction says). It may be not enough in winter but now it's lit for longer that enough.
One more thing - instructions say that Solar Jars can't be fully charged without direct sunlight. Well I disagree, because weather here in NI isn't sunny at all. So after reading instructions I started thinking there will be no use of our Jar. But it lights up every evening despite the sun was shining or not that day. So it's really a useful thing!
I also liked that if the battery in a Solar Jar doesn't store energy well after a while, it may be replaced with another AA rechargeable one. This option increases durability of Solar Jars. So I am sure that my money are very well spent buying a Solar Jar!
I really love our Solar Jar. Because I got everything I wanted and it does all what it is said on a box. I give it 5 stars out of 5!
So if You need a garden light, Your child or You hate absolute darkness at night or You simply need some soft light while taking care of a baby - Solar Jar is a perfect decision.
Thanks for taking time to read my review!
Also posted on other websites under the same user name.
Recently when my husband turned 50 he received a present from my daughter called a Sun Jar. My youngest daughter is a great eco warrior and always chooses gifts with a saving the planet theme in mind.
These can be purchased from Amazon at around the £15 mark, and I think they make a great present. I have also seen them on many other websites including my favourite Ethical Superstore at www.ethicalsuperstore.com.
The Sun Jar is basically a solar powered lamp which you place on a sunny windowsill during the day or outside, and at night the jar automatically lights up. The way it works is that there is a solar power cell which recharges the battery to produce an energy efficient LED light.
As the jar is opaque the light is diffused by the frosted glass, so the glow of the light gives a warm natural tone. The lamp is made in the shape of a Mason jar, and this shape reminds me of the Kilner jars my grandmother used to bottle damsons, and other stone fruit, in the autumn to keep through until winter.
As the jar has a light sensor inside this means no external on/off switch is needed so the lamp really is simplicity itself. However if you wish to conserve the battery life there is an override switch inside the jar which you can use to turn it off last thing at night.
Now the jar has many uses. As it is completely water tight it can be used outdoors in the evening. It is a great asset for camping, as long as you are taking the car to the tent as it is a heavy item.
Also ideal for using in a child's bedroom as there are no electric wires to worry about.
I really love it though for cosy nights in, there is something really lovely about the way it harnesses the power of the sun and then glows all evening.
It is made by the company Suck UK Ltd who also make a blue version called the Moon Jar. This looks beautiful and I am considering a purchase shortly.
The lamp will glow for about 5 hours on one charge and it has the same light intensity as a candle. You can't seriously use it for working or for reading, but it has that cosy warm relaxing property which illuminates the room in a golden orange glow.
Now it does need sun to work, so on some of these miserable cloudy days we have been having it struggles, and so I try to charge it up on sunny days and then use it on those days when it is miserable in the evening, by conserving the energy using the button inside. What I would say though is that the recharging capability is weak indoors, and so far I have yet to obtain a full 5 hours of light, so for best results pop it outside in a sunny south facing spot if you can.
I love the fact that this jar is saving electricity. It is rather a little workhorse and is capable of creating a romantic mood, or a talking point for an evening with friends.
It does rather give that "by the sea in a little fisherman's cottage" feel to it, and I love the back to basics atmosphere it gives!
I think it would make a great Christmas present for someone who likes to be ecological, and certainly I think it would be on my list of possibilities. It is a novelty item but one with a real use and for this reason it shouldn't end up in landfill after the New Year as I think the recipient will be more than happy to receive this lovely ethical gift.
It was a winner of the Eco-Friendly Gift Of The Year 2007 (Gift Association) so it certainly has a good reputation.
The latest addition to the collection is they now have one which glows pink. I am not sure this would be for me but maybe someone would enjoy this novelty colour!
This review is also published on Ciao under my user name there Violet1278.