One the last, but important finishing touches in our Green @ Home garden makeover project will be to install some landscape lighting, both for aesthetics and also to illuminate what can be an unsafe dark area in the front of our apartment. There are plenty of lighting landscape solutions, but due to the absence of an exterior outlets and our rental status, we're turning to a solar powered solution...
After hours upon hours of reading reviews on a myriad of sites, these Malibu 3-Pack Solar Landscape Plastic Flood Light Set were noted for their mostly...pardon the pun..."glowing" reviews thanks to their good performance married to a wallet-friendly price. We've actually purchased a solar spotlight before and noted several unique features specific to solar/LED technology one should consider before investing in these type of lights:
1) they're not going to light as brightly as traditional exterior lighting systems; solar technology can only provide a limited amount of energy to low-watt LED bulbs. That being said, their ability to illuminate a section of the garden is actually quite impressive when fully charged.
2) LED bulbs give off a white-bluish cast. We're well aware of this characteristic after frightening our neighbors once by targeting the garden fountain's cherub to noirish effect. We'll possibly resort to covering the front of the lights with a tinted lighting gel to lessen the harsh light.
3) Solar lighting obviously requires long moments of direct sunlight to perform properly. Our neighbor's solar accent lighting are either not performing or only weakly performing due to their poor placement. The nice thing about the Malibu system shown above is the solar panel can be placed up to 20 feet away for maximum sun exposure.
4) Make sure the housing is sturdy and the batteries are replaceable before purchasing. The formentioned spotlight we once owned from Target died after being knocked over and cracked open a little more easily than we would have preferred. Many reviewers have noted that changing out the provided batteries for higher power 2500+ ma Ni-mh AA batteries can improve charge duration and lighting performance.
Now if we can only find an equally well-reviewed motion detector or safety light for our poorly lit front stairway...