Saturday, September 7, 2013

Solar Light Update

Remember our inadvertently humorous attempt to save money by using a solar night light?

Here's an update.

This is similar to the light that we bought only the brand was "Patriot."  Initially, I was very disappointed.  We left it outside for two days, and then tried to use it.  It never seemed to have quite enough juice to get all the way through the night.  During the wee hours of the morning it would start to slowly fade in and out.  It reminded me of some kind of homing beacon for an alien spaceship.

Then we left on our five-week vacation.  I left it charging in the sunroom, where it would be out of the rain but could still get some sunlight.  That appear to have been just what it needed it, because now it works very well.  Even when I occasionally forget it put it out until noon or when it has been cloudy all day, it is still going strong in the morning.  So every morning I set it out on the back porch, and every evening I fetch it inside.  When the light is facing up, I set it on a soft cloth so as not to scratch the solar panel.   I suppose it is silly, since the savings are negligible, but we've got it so we might as well use it.  It's not like my time is incredibly valuable.

I think the light is designed to be attached to an outdoor building.  It would probably work just fine there, although it does not turn on just because it has gone dark -- you have to flip the switch.  It's about the power of an ordinary flashlight.  If the "real" light is on, you can't really tell that the solar light is on.  So it works great for a night light, but you couldn't read by it or anything.

My conclusion about solar power up to this point is that it's not yet the sort of thing that pays for itself very quickly.  Over time?  Presumably.  Useful for off-the-grid adventures, like camping?  I'm sure it would be.  Pay your utility bills for the next 30 years all in one fell swoop?  I'm guessing so.  Worth looking into if that's what you want.  But right now, electricity is still awfully cheap.  I'm going to keep using a solar light, though.  It is a little thing.  But that's okay.

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