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Solar lights question

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by michmoldman, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. michmoldman

    michmoldman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Hello everyone
    I am in a bit of a different business then most here and have a question. I build molds for cement statues, and also sell statues. I am in the process of building a test mold for a statue that will hold a solar light. It is a tree stump, with a few baby racoons poking out of it. My question is, does anyone have any suggestions of what kind of solar light would light this up at night? The statue itself will be about 14" tall, and about 12" wide.The solar light and base will fit in a 2" deep hole on top of the statue. I want to eventually do this with several statues and molds, but when I put them in a statue and sell it all together, do not want to spen a fortune on one light. Is there a cheap solar light out there that will light up a statue of this size?
  2. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I have yet to find any solar powered light fixture that I would put my name on or stand behind. They all are just terrible. Poorly built, cheap components, horrible light output (if you can even call it that) shoddy battery technology, crappy PV cells.

    Stay away from Solar Powered LV lights for now. I would say you could easily build in a wired Low Voltage lighting solution. Just call a local lighting pro.
  3. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    Instead of using a cheap solar light would it be an option to mold in a flex conduit to pull a wire to the location you need a light ? Or why dont you at least sell an optional lighting kit. The results will be much more pleasing.

    If your going to use solar you might as well just paint it with glow in the dark paint.
  4. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Kingsland, Texas
    Messages: 2,214

    LOVE it Billy!! I agree with James, there just is no real solar option for this. You could easily install a simple 12v light with a simple plug in transformer that goes directly to the light. There are lots of specialty fixtures out there like this with their own mini transformer.
  5. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    It is actually surpising how far advanced solar lights have come.

    I got a spotlight a few months back to test it, it has 3 .5 watt warm white led's in an array, uses 2 aa 1.5 volt ni-cad recargables, and was in an black aluminum casing with the fins that kichler, yardbright, and a 1/2 dozen other "manu's" use. you've probably also seen it in LV form in raw brass. the solar panel was around 3x4 inches, and I wrote about this back then somewhere. you get about 1-3 hours of good light similar to what a 10 watt mr-16 would put out, if you get decent sunlight. it goes to dim light after that, for probably another 4hours.

    This light has a number of "if's" to bring it to a level that would be acceptable to me.

    if it had lithium rechargables, the recharge cycles on those is about 2000 lifetime. that would put you close to 6 years at replacement for the batts. also lithium would give you alot more amps at more voltage, or more energy available to give you 6 plus hours of run time on 1.5 watts. this would require modding the driver voltage to the led's. they would like 3.7 volts just direct driven, like most led's. the current driver boosts the voltage from the 2 ni-cads 2.4 total volts. the current ni-cads rarely last beyond 3-500 cycles, even good ones.

    if it had a larger, removable,solar panel, it could fully charge the above mentioned batteries and give you that 6 hours plus time as well. I'd have to do some math, but my gut tells me that a panel of 48 square inches would do it per light. the removable part is important because of the ugly ness of it and hiding it high up somewhere.

    I do believe you could get it to work, and look decent, but you would have to take what is out there and vastly mod it, and who knows how long it would last.

    If you want to stand behind it and not worry, do what others here have already reccomended.
  6. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 439

    David I don't think you're that far off....good solar products are comming soon. How soon is unclear, but they will be here eventually.
  7. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I have looked at producing some as it comes up often here in my remote location.

    It can be done, anything can be done with enough time and money. The issue is the marketability of such things. A top quality PV panel, combined with charge controller, combined with a top quality storage unit (battery), all miniaturized and "ruggadized" for installation into the ground, near the ground, then connected to a quality bullet that would use an LED lamp.... Well the cost per unit would blow your mind.

    A lot has happened with technology and availability in the residential scale solar power market, but not many have focused on micro solar.

    It is a while away yet in my opinion... as in years, not months.
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    That quality word is what kills it for me. I have no experience on what a quality photo voltaic panel looks like or how long it should last. I have a bit more experience on the battery side, but most solar folks I know and read about use a fairly old battery technology- 6 volt gel cells. for not a crazy amount of money you could rig a system today with Jame's LED retro fit bulbs and a 150 watt solar kit from Harbor Freight, but I have a feeling the solar would have plenty of issues.

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