Solar-powered LED lights?
We upgraded our holiday strands to regular electric LEDs a few years ago and have been really happy with the results, so testing solar strands seemed like a logical progression in the grand scheme of things. Pete snagged a LivingSocial deal last fall that gave us four packages of outdoor solar string lights (2 packages of 200 lights, and two packages of 100 lights) from the company Touch Of ECO. When opportunity calls, you do what seems most economical in the hopes that you can that you can make your backyard as sweet as the family homestead in Parenthood.
When you check out the products on the company website linked above and your jaw smashes against the floor, without even looking for a LivingSocial receipt I can say with confidence that we didn’t pay anything close to the listed prices. LED strands are still kind of expensive as it is, but solar LEDs have a really long ways to go in order to become affordable to the masses, especially compared cost-wise to the holiday lights I ran last winter that probably cost me all of $10 in electricity from December – February.
I’m pretty sure that based on the above photo above (which is a strand draped around the treehouse) that you can you can also predict that the light quality in person is nothing like what’s presented on the website either, I mean, unless maybe you’re running $2,000 worth of strands in 10 square feet. To which I say, ‘five stars, as if.’
I’ve been meaning to write about my experience with these lights for awhile; I didn’t right away because I’ve been trying to give them a fair chance. Two of the four strands continue to respond like duds, flickering at sunset for a very short period of time but never seeming like they receive a full charge. A third strand would stay lit for an hour or two, but that’s still less time than the best of the four strands (the lone strand that made it up onto the treehouse before the winter hit). The best of the four strands will stay lit for 3-4 hours, and sometimes I catch it flickering sporadically if I’m awake during the night. That’s still not to say that the one strand still in the backyard is bright in the same way as a strand of electric lights – it doesn’t compare at all, nowhere near sufficient to serve as patio light strands – but we can see it from the windows of the house, which livens up the property a little bit in a non-holidayesque way.
I will say that there’s something incredibly convenient and wonderful about the idea of solar LED light strands, especially when it comes to having an automatic light source for places that are out-of-reach of an electrical outlet. I’m not sure that technology for solar light strands is where I’d expect it to be, but I do hope that it evolves in time.
Have you found ones that work? Do share.