Solar lamps keep patio nights bright

Rechargeable batteries power devices

September 30, 2007|By McClatchy-Tribune

If you like sitting out on the patio at night but want to add a little light to your surroundings, there's another choice besides candles and tiki torches.

While solar path lighting has been around for years, manufacturers only recently have introduced outdoor table lamps with rechargeable solar batteries.

"The beauty of these lamps is that they don't look much different from indoor table lamps that are usually chosen based on decor style," writes Skip Teeters, outdoor lighting product manager for Hampton Bay and Home Depot, which recently came out with rechargeable solar table lamps.

"The difference is in how these lamps are powered. Solar power charges the battery and makes the lamps not only energy-efficient, but they can be used outdoors with your summer outdoor living furniture without the use of an electrical cord."

Common styles you can find at stores and online look like ordinary table lamps with lampshades, while others resemble lanterns with handles and metal finishes. Some have backup power sources, such as AA batteries, and come with AC wall chargers.

Hampton Bay is selling four styles at Home Depot; they cost $39.97 to $68.25. Online, solar lightstore.com has a couple of hanging solar rechargeable lanterns starting at $34.99, depending on what features they include.

"They all have solar panels somewhere on the lamp that soak up sunlight during the day and shed up to 10 hours of light in the evening," Teeters writes. They also each have a backup power source with two AA batteries.

"The solar panel obviously makes them outdoor-friendly, but the battery alternative allows them to be used indoors, too," Teeters writes. "The lamps are designed to be used outdoors, but the styles are reflective of indoor decor."

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