This little LED spotlight offers an easy hands-free lighting option, powered by the sun, for just about any outdoor space.
One great application for small-scale solar, aside than the occasional gadget-charging, is providing electricity to charge the batteries used for low wattage lighting, such as LED lights, which offer a lot of illumination with just a little electricity.
The widely-available tiny solar garden lights are one example, but when everything is scaled up - the solar cell, the battery, and the bulb - it's possible to replace other outdoor lighting needs as well, such as porch lights and security lights. When the components are sized correctly, so that the battery and solar cell are matched to the intended usage of the light, a solar spotlight can be a reliable lighting fixture that can be installed just about anywhere with exposure to the sun, with no plugs or wires, and no batteries to replace.
I've been using one such device for the last few months, a Solar LED spotlight from GearBest, and so far, it's been a great addition to my house. I do have some questions about how long it will last out in the elements 24/7 here in the high desert, as many plastic items seem to have a shorter life with constant sun exposure, but considering that this really has no moving parts, perhaps that won't be an issue.
I installed the review unit on the roof immediately above one of our outside doors, which has a clear southern exposure, using two deck screws (two smaller screws and plastic anchors were provided with it, but I chose to use a larger size). The light attaches to the mounting panel and an 'extending bar' with two longer screws, which can be easily loosened, adjusted, and tightened via plastic knobs. This was quite possibly the weakest point in the design, as while I could get the light pointed in the direction I wanted it to, there was a limited range possible on each adjustment point.
Once installed and oriented toward the path leading up toward the door, I just turned it on, and with the remainder of the day's sunlight, it provided ample illumination for a wide area around the doorstep. The 3W LED bulb is said to deliver 250 lumen, or enough to cover about 500 square feet. I don't know that I would agree with the total light coverage, but it certainly is enough to replace the current outdoor light at that door.
The spotlight has a light sensor, ensuring that it doesn't switch on during the daytime, and the killer feature, to my mind, is the infrared motion sensor, which automatically turns the light on when a person (or animal, in the case of my dog and my cat) is sensed within its range. According to the specs, the unit can detect a heat source over a coverage area of about 5 meters, and while I didn't measure it out, it was sensitive enough to always turn the light on before I got within a few meters of the door.
The light is powered by a 3.7V 1500mAh lithium-ion battery, which is said to have enough capacity to power the light for about a week's use (40 times per night) on a single charge, which takes about 8 hours in full sun. I've not tested the battery life (but perhaps I'll now cover the solar cell and see how many days it can last), but if it's anything close to the specs, then there should be plenty of light regardless of how cloudy a given day or week is.
I like the automatic motion sensor feature on this light, as it makes it easy to fish out my keys after dark, or to look out my window to see who (or what, in the case of critters) is outside, without having to walk to the light switch, and without having to worry about turning it off again. The fact that its bulb is bright enough to do more than just highlight a garden path, while being entirely solar-powered and waterproof, makes it a great option for both yard and porch (although if you like to leave the porch light on, this isn't the device for you, as it goes off when nobody's nearby).
The Solar Power LED Spotlight is available from GearBest for $34.
[Disclosure: I received a review unit from GearBest, but all opinions, errors, or omissions in this review are mine alone.]