Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

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Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby Ratty » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:01 pm

I'm always a little behind when it comes to the latest new gadgets. I've never attempted EL wire. I light myself and my bike with battery operated led strings. Today at Target I was impressed with all the solar choices. 50 bulb strings of LED lights for $20. There were all sorts of them. Small strings, big nets, colored and white. I'm heading to the other stores to see what the competition is selling.

True. Maybe they won't work for a bike but I like the solar lights for my camp.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby Lonesomebri » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:05 pm

Strung inside the tent and carport, with the solar panel outside, perfect ambient lighting. Really lite up our place nicely. Also those small light strands that run off AA batteries are what I have on my bike. Of course, if you can wait until January, the price might go down.....
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:16 pm

If there are any leds left...
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby Jackass » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:17 pm

The LED stuff goes like hotcakes, usually there's nothing good left even close to Christmas. In my neck o' the woods.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby Elorrum » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:25 pm

I picked up some clearanced 4th of july style solar light/lamps. 5 dollars a string. Patio and summer decorations are clearancing now to make way for Christmas decorations.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby Trishntek » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:58 pm

I purchased SIX 50' strings of solar powered LED strings for this year's burn and charged them before going to the burn. FOUR out of the SIX worked at all and only ONE STRING survived the entire week. I'll convert them all to battery only and forget the solar setup. It just ain't worth the hassle for me to piddle around with such things on the playa.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby danibel » Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:02 am

Trishntek wrote:I purchased SIX 50' strings of solar powered LED strings for this year's burn and charged them before going to the burn. FOUR out of the SIX worked at all and only ONE STRING survived the entire week. I'll convert them all to battery only and forget the solar setup. It just ain't worth the hassle for me to piddle around with such things on the playa.


Yikes! I am with you on the solar/battery thing. I know, I know. I should be using the freely supplied energy from the sky, but one strand I paid a pretty penny for 4 years ago has already died. So now I buy battery LED strings. I got 2-30 LED strings off ebay for $4 shipped! From a US seller. Yeah, they are made in china, but whatever. I put 3 AA batteries in each one and they are still going! I used em last weekend in Big Sur while camping. Perfect inside the van. I'm buying more and more and more. For the bike, outfits, darkwads, and whatever else I can think up from now until TTITD.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby BBadger » Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:05 am

Waste of money.

Short of those crappy little solar lawn lights for demarcating areas or guylines, for me solar power for BM is a complete joke. When people say such lights had the "perfect ambiance" what they really mean is: they were so dim that it was like running the lights on a nearly dead battery--which is really not so far from the truth given the power cycle.

Hell, forget the lawn lights unless it's a project in deep playa. For the same price of a bottom-dollar lawn light (that I'll throw away because it got stepped on) I'd rather just buy some cups and batteries for the guylines--like I did this year. They're much more durable, last a few days on a set of batteries, and those batteries are damn cheap. The cups can be used to drink liquids too! Or even an emergency piss-cup.

As for the solar lights, the premium that is paid for the privilege of hauling out a fragile solar panel just so you can recharge batteries for dim lights that would last an entire week on two AAs anyway is just ridiculous. You're never going to earn back that cost premium using the lights one week a year, if they even last more than a year. It's not "free" energy from the sun if you paid that cost up front and never recoup the cost. It's like those gym memberships suckers buy and never use.

Here's my counter for $20 solar lights: $10 timed strings of lights that run on 2 AA batteries and last 17 nights on a single set of batteries.

Want them to last longer because Alkaline batteries don't like high drain? Buy some Sanyo Eneloop batteries from Costco for $2/AA and recharge them at home before you leave. Now you've spent about $14 on your lights, and you can recharge the batteries. You can even use the batteries for other shit, like your digital camera, or motion-detecting lights, which is a lot more than you can say for most peoples' solar lights.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby AntiM » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:28 am

We use solar string lights on the canopy of our rhoadescar at night. They're actually strung under the cloth canopy and the panels are on the back deck. The cloth canopy comes off at night. They work just fine and are several years old. A few battery operated strings too, and a battery operated timed crystal chandelier. Cute.
We have grundles of solar lawn lights as ground markers, just enough light to say "trip hazard". Oddly, the ones from the dollar store are the best and brightest of these.
For real light, it is all battery in camp, and the main light for at night is a florescent fixture run off a 12 v. deep cell. We bring a spare, but never need it. Heck we have a briefcase solar panel which sits in the bottom of the lights box, but we haven't had it out in years.
Small battery operated xmas lights made perfect inexpensive (on clearance) personal lights to wear.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby Sail Man » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:49 am

Another vote for the battery powered LED lights. Pretty much all of my devices I use batteries for run on AA batts, even my EL wire, which cuts down on the variety of batteries I need to stock. I've tried the rechargeable batteries, but they just don't seem to last nearly as long as the reg. batteries. I take the old ones and recycle them when I get home.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby Ratty » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:25 am

Thanks everybody for the insight. Bbadger, Thank you. I love that lighting site. I want it all. I'm gonna stick with my battery powered leds. They are cheap and easy. (Don't say it). I need to buy some more things that change colors. My neighbor had a giant globe and all kinds of cool lights. He works at HD and gets all the great clearance.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby RedHeaven » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:25 am

I also love the LED batt operated christmas lights and prefer them over L wire. They have lasted MUCH longer, battery life And actual life. L Wire shorts out so often.....they gotta make those things stronger.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby AntiM » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:54 am

Hint: browse the holiday light selections early. If you fall in love with something, buy it before it disappears. If you simply like something, wait for the clearance sales.

Don't forget all the blinky Halloween stuff.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby FIGJAM » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:01 am

I tried to catch the clearance's, but the stampede went straight to the lights and they were cleared out before I walked through the store.

My 50 led solar strings have been out to the playa three times without any problems, even when the panels blew out of where they were mounted and were hanging by the wire.

They stayed lit from dusk till dawn.

Got some around my porch that have been up for 3 yrs. and are still working fine. 8)
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby Zhust » Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:12 pm

BBadger wrote:Short of those crappy little solar lawn lights for demarcating areas or guylines, for me solar power for BM is a complete joke.


I think most mid-sized camps (e.g. 5-25 people) work something like this:

First year: "We need power for some lights and low-power sound. I have a generator. Great. Bring it."

If the gas, noise, and fumes are not an issue, stop. Keep bringing the generator. Otherwise ...

Second year: "Let's try solar. Wow, that's expensive."

Options:
  • Use the generator.
  • Buy Harbor Freight's shitty solar system.
  • Find someone with expertise:

"So we want lights and sound. We use about 40 watts on average with the lights and sound."

Options:
  • Buy a 90-watt panel, charge controller, 90AH deep-cycle battery, and 100-watt pure-sine inverter for a total cost of around $900.
  • Take a closer look at usage:

"Did we really use the sound system that much? What if we cut it back to a small car stereo and use a couple LED strings. Nobody was really at camp much anyway. We can get down to 10 watts average at night and skip the inverter."

Options:
  • String together 4 cheap 5-watt panels on close-out, add in a cheap charge controller, and 2 sealed lead-acid (SLA) absorbed gas-mat (AGM, work well as deep-cycle) batteries from the computer UPS's at home that aren't being used anyway, spending under $100.
  • Pare down even more and just use a deep-cycle battery all week to charge AA batteries.
  • Go back to the generator.

Where I'm at right now is with a small pack that holds one AGM battery, a decent solar controller, some wiring for an AA battery charger, a 12V USB adapter for the Galaxy Player (Android version of iPod) and a 75-watt power inverter in case I need to do a little soldering and to run a couple strings of LED lights (that still work after 4 years on the Playa). I have 20 watts of solar panels from garage sales that I think I paid a total of $20 for. All told I probably spent about $100.

In general, adapting usage for the environment let me get to something cheap and portable. Solar is possible to make viable at Burning Man, but it takes a bit of thinking. Money and carrying-capacity can make up for thinking.
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Re: Solar Christmas lights in the stores NOW

Postby Nipple » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:44 am

Zhust wrote:Money ... can make up for thinking.


This is the most salient point I think I've ever seen made on the internet.
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