Every once in a while, I get something to review that isn’t really mobile or smartphone related. Most of what I seem to get are headphones, chargers, cables, batteries, and such. This week, I’ve had the pleasure to try out some solar powered “outdoor fairy lights”. (read: Christmas lights). On the whole, I really enjoyed using these, though it wasn’t without its flaws.
The lights are a single string, running 39 feet long, with several inches at the end that lead into a solar charger and battery bay. The string is the typical pine tree green, and the lights are an off white of sorts. The base of the lights is a black box, with the solar panel taking up on side, with the opposite side having a panel that folds open to expose the controls and a pair of battery bays. The unit includes one battery, though the users can purchase and install a second one to extend the amount of time the unit can remain lit, as the batteries can work in tandem. There’s a toggle with three settings: “on”, “off”, and “timer”. The last of what’s under the cover is a single button that cycles through the eight different patterns in which the lights can blink. Personally, I’d have preferred a toggle where I could slide it directly over to the preffered setting, but once the blinking pattern is set, it’s not like I had reason to go back and cycle through them. As you’ll see in the next section, this is more of a set-it-and-forget-it design.
The unit, once powered up and given several hours to charge in daylight, turns the lights on as soon as it’s too dark out to charge. If the unit it set to “on”, the lights will remain lit until either the battery gives out, or enough light is there to resume charging; in the case of the latter, it turns the lights off that instant. At night, I was able to turn the panel face-down, and the lights would turn on, and they would wink back out the instant I turned it face-up. And this happened ever time, like clockwork. The entire system is water resistant, and it just so happened to have rained one of the days I left it outside to charge, and the unit continued to run without a hitch. Lights came on every time it was dim, and turned out every time it was light enough to charge by. This really appealed to me, as others that I’ve used need to be turned on or plugged in, then turned off or unplugged again later at night. Having something like this where they only run in the dark, and turn off whenever it’s lit (or the battery gives out) is beyond convenient, and I was thorughouly impressed. The ONLY issue I had on this was with the setting labelled “timer”. This is supposed to function where it turns on as normal, but then turns off after four hours, in order to charge more and reserve juice. For reaosns I’m not all that clear on, they didn’t seem to turn off at the four hour mark. This could very well be from my fiddling with it, and maybe the timer reset on me without my knowing it. But at the end of the day, it stops shining when it’s light, so I saw no net downside to this. Lastly, the unit comes with an extension set that the solar panel can be attached to, at a 45 degree angle. It’s comprised of the piece that fastens to the back panel, a second piece that only provides more length, and two different bottoms; either a circular base for it to stand freely on a flat surface, and a stake akin to what one would find with a tent; all of these are comprised of black plastic. The steake didn’t fit as tightly into the stand as I would’ve liked, as the “pole” slipped off of it after I drove it into the ground, leaving the stake behind. That may be deviance in production, but keep it in mind if you plan on using it, that you might need pliers to retrieve the stake from the ground.
As for how the lights actually looked when lit, I put them on a pine tree at night, located at the front of the house. I then walked to the street, approximately 65′ feet away from the lights. They appeared identical the conventional Christmas lights that come in the smaller size, in terms of appearance and brightness. From that distance, there’s no functional difference in the appearance or brightness of these lights, when compared to conventional ones. They looked just the same to me. So, with their appearance being the same, and no real need to be turned on and off, I see no reason NOT to recommend this to anyone who wants to use these lights. They turn on and off like clockwork, even if the timer function may not have worked as I though it would’ve. I don’t see that as a hindrance to the convenience that this offers. And again, it may have been my doing anyway. I’m giving this unit a 9, as the lights ran for several hours in my testing, and always turned out when they were charging. I find that hard to beat over my past experience with similar lighting.