Light and Energy for a Dollar
I purchase a few inexpensive solar lights each year to use when the power goes out. They are much less expensive that a flashlight and last from dusk to about two a.m., providing portable and much-needed safety lighting in an emergency. The LED lights-on-a-stick can be clustered like flowers in a vase and put out enough glow for comfortable reading. Keeping a few light sticks handy means I can also locate them at whim throughout the garden during evening star-gazing sessions.
For outdoor lighting, designers should forgo inexpensive fixtures and look for high-quality, permanent options. Using products from companies like Vista provides you with helpful technical expertise and ready-made detail drawings. Most good landscape lighting companies don’t sell solar lights because the light quality and foot-candle output are limited. The piercing blue looks unnatural in a garden—artificial. The best outdoor landscape lighting has a warm glow, more like the full moon than a computer screen. Also, even the best solar lights only last about as long as a cell phone. Currently, your best bet is to wait for improved models to come out in the next few years. For attractive, long-lasting, naturally-hued lighting, stick with wired, low-voltage and high-quality outdoor fixtures.