Let There Be Light!

Let There Be Light!

Solar lanterns celebrate lengthening of days

Making Ripples

Twilight is even more magical now that solar lanterns are part of our off-grid cabin. As the sunset fades, each orb glows a soft golden color that gets brighter as darkness envelopes the valley. I hope to share our experience here to give some idea of a starting place for those interested in harnessing the sun to light their night.

There are many types of stringed, separate, hanging or ground-staked lights available online. We bought the $16 Bawoo brand solar garden lanterns that come in a strand of 30 LED lights. I don’t receive anything from the company for reviewing them, so you can be sure this is authentic: I’ll tell it like it is!

And it is enchanting. We’ve been using our lights for a few months, and it has been surprisingly easy and enjoyable. The white lantern shades are made with waterproof nylon and tarpaulin and must be assembled. The set arrived in a shockingly small box, with flattened circles that expand into 3D orbs. It took me less than an hour to stretch each shade over each LED light, and somehow none were broken.

They’re intended to be used either outdoors or indoors, and we’ve done both. They must charge for six to eight hours either outside with the solar panel staked in the ground in direct sunlight, or inside from a window with the solar panel getting hit by the sun. Even if it’s partly cloudy, they will charge based on how much sun received. First, press the “on” button before charging, otherwise, they can’t gather solar energy into the battery. To figure out whether they’re on or off, I cover the solar panel or place it up against the wall or floor; if the lights flick on inside the lanterns, it’s set to on. If not, it’s off, or the battery has no charge.

Solar garden lanterns intended to be used either outdoors or indoors, as long as they can charge in the sun.
(Courtesy Photo/Amanda Bancroft)

The battery stores about eight to 12 hours of glow lighting. It varies based on how much sun the solar panel received, and the light weakens as the charge is depleted. (We find this process interesting to watch!) This is not your reading lamp or overhead light to cook in the kitchen; it is the kind of light that makes for great parties, weddings, romantic movie nights, or secondary lighting for a path. Any time you’d use a nightlight, such as to gently illuminate the bathroom or banish the bogey man from under your child’s bed, you can use solar lanterns instead.

There is one other button on ours, and that’s “mode,” which makes them blink on and off. We don’t find blinking lights appealing, but hey, maybe you do! So far, we have hung our strand on our balcony railing, deck, front door frame, indoor entertainment area, bed loft, banister and on a hanging vine. The possibilities are endless as long as the panel gets adequate sunlight. It’s such a treat to have fairy lights automatically start glowing at sunset, later and later each day. They mark the lengthening days leading us to the summer solstice.

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at www.RipplesBlog.org.


Categories: Making Ripples