These were inexpensive solar lights which lasted better than I expected, and I plan to buy more this spring.
We have a long driveway. The house lights cannot be seen from the road, and it’s really hard, even for us, to find the driveway in the dark. Others who try to find it in the dark almost always have to turn around for another try. It needs some kind of edging. But I didn’t want to put anything expensive at the bottom of the driveway for two reasons. First of all, you would not believe the number of vehicles that seem to wander or bounce off the highway and across our lawn. I’m forever finding tracks in the grass. Any reflectors we’ve ever used down there have been run over. Second, if anything expensive is left near the highway it is stolen.
But a couple of years ago I found a set of two Malibu Solar Lights for $12. I figured that even if they made it through one summer and fall (no sense in leaving them under the snow here in winter) it would be worth it, and if someone stole them I wouldn’t feel so angry at $6 a pop.
Well, no one ever stole them! One light has made it through two full seasons, and the other one died at the end of last summer. Not bad at that price!
In addition, they have one feature that I like a lot. The lower end of the stake separates from the rest of the shaft. You can plant the pointed piece in the ground and leave it there. When you mow, just pull the shaft of the light off and move it out of the way. You can then mow over the stake and replace the light when you are done. (Just be sure you don’t accidentally pull the stake partway up when you do, because the lawnmower will shred these pretty effectively, duh! The good news is that the engineering is so simple that I replaced the part with a simple pointed stick)
The black material is a semi-soft plastic, while the globe is a more brittle plastic. But no part of these ever broke and doesn’t seem to be more brittle after two summers in constant sun.
The lights, when new, continued to shine for about 6 hours after the sun was down. The one that is still working now lasts for about 4 hours. But this is usually plenty long enough to guide late evening searchers for our driveway. The light starts out fairly white in hue, but becomes more yellowish as the stored power is nearing full expenditure.
These are not meant to provide sufficient light to see by, they are marker lights. Each light has 9 inches above ground level, and the diameter of the "shade" is 5 inches. The solar panel is built into the top of the light.
I think I really got my money’s worth on these!
Update On Apr 20, 2008: Forgot to mention that these actually have a 2-year warranty against defects. Each light takes 2 AA rechargeable Ni-Cad 400mAh batteries that come with the unit. These would be replaceable, and can be purchased on line at www.batteryjunction.com for under $1.00 each. This would allow you to extend the life of the unit even longer if you were willing to go to the trouble to do all this. It might be worth it economically if you had an inexpensive source for batteries without paying shipping. Please dispose of the used batteries responsibly!