Day, for ...
I bought mine for $20 at Crate & Barrel, but they're sold out. I found this one and this set of 3 online; they appear to be identical to mine, which appears to be completely weatherproof.
FYI: This product does the trick because the LED light uses so little electricity that the tiny solar panel can make enough to power it for a few hours each night. A couple of years ago, these technologies weren't far enough along the efficiency curve to make this possible. Next year? We'll probably see versions twice as bright for half the price. But this is already a cool thing, right now.
I've tested solar-powered outdoor LED Christmas lights. Tried - and returned - lousy products last year and the year before. I'll let you know when they're ready for prime time. What to do? Conserve electricity and buy these plug-in LED Christmas Tree Lights. The best deal I could find: 100 LEDs on a 30' string for $10. Changing colors, too. If you only use them a week or two each year, you can put them in your will. In the meantime, they'll use almost 90% less electricity than the traditional lights you stashed in the basement.
December 2, 2012. I love to watch it turn itself on with totally free, totally clean, totally cool energy. Recycled sunlight. The Little LED Lantern That Could.
This thing spends the day sunbathing. It stores the sunlight in a little battery. Then it lights up when the sun goes down.
I bought it because I knew it would be cool. I’m interested in this technology, so how could I not get this groovy looking faux Japanese lantern with a built in photovoltaic cell, a storage battery, a photosensor and an LED light? Well, I got it and hung it on a tree branch to see if it would actually work. Sure enough, it got dark six hours later -- and the thing turned itself on. Cool.
A couple of nights later, I look out the window and see this softly glowing sphere and I feel strangely drawn to it, like I’m a werewolf or something. I’m compelled to go out and give it a good look. At which point I realize this isn’t cool – this is profoundly cool. This is a definitive seeing-is-believing, OMG, this-is-how-it’s-going-to-be-someday moment. Totally free, totally clean energy.
Day after day after day ... just like the sun. It's one thing to know about a technology - it's another thing to see it work. And know that it does.
This particular device is the ultimate time-shifting technology: it recycles daylight into nightlight. Here, take a 20-second walk walk outside with me:
Maybe you had to be there. But I think this is one of those things that’s like a gateway drug: it might lead you to more and stronger solutions. So if you’ve got a place to hang a little moon of your own, try this.
The whole Better Cheaper Slower Gift Guide
Cost Benefit Analysis
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that widespread adoption of LED lighting in the U.S. over the next 15 years can:
Deliver savings of about $280 billion.
Avoid 133 new power plants
Reduce lighting electricity demand by 62% in 2025.
Eliminate 258 million metric tons of carbon emissions.
Want to buy a LED Light Bulb? Click for links on my Resources page. $20 now can save you $200 over the next 20 years. And save you from having to change the bulb again. Well, for 20 or 25 years.
What is this?
Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) make light by passing electrons through a semiconductor; they produce very little heat and are cool to the touch. In traditional bulbs, electricity heats a metal filament until it’s so hot it glows; 90% of the electricity becomes heat, 10% becomes light.
Every thing is Everything
“Incandescent lamps ... are highly inefficient sources of light because about 90 percent of the energy used is lost as heat. They account for 8.8 percent of U.S. household electricity use” (U.S. Department of Energy’s “U.S. Household Electricity Report”) Air-conditioning accounts for another 15%, so eliminating heat-producing bulbs saves more energy and money. The savings are even greater in offices, where 44% of electricity is used for lighting. (U.S. DOE’s “Office Buildings” report)