Garden lights review

More work is needed before solar garden lights become anything more than decorative.
 
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02.Results

Solar light update

We've checked the tested solar lights’ battery and panel durability and found that after five months' continual use in a garden, the majority lost battery life. Although two models battery life score remained identical and one increased 45 percentage points, eight models’ battery life score decreased between 5 and 55 percentage points. We'll test again in another 6 months. See the table, below. 

Brand / model (in order of updated battery life score)
Original battery life score (%)Updated battery life score (%)
Brilliant LED Motion Sensing Solar Bollard 60368/16
100 100
HPM Solar Accent Mini Marker Light Set 5-pack RSLSSSB5
100 100
Solar Magic Solar Garden Lights 2-pack GLCSS2
45 90
Gardman 4 Sunpower Solar Post Lights 18071
90 85
Homemaker Lifestyle Set of 10 Plastic Solar Garden Lights 40-417-103
100 65
Homemaker Lifestyle Set of 10 Stainless Steel Solar Lights 40-417-264
100 60
Nelson Solar LED Light and Bug Zapper MGLSL027
85 50
Solar Magic Solar Garden Lights Stainless Steel 12-pack GL12
55 20
Nelson Stainless Steel Solar LED Tier Light MGLSL020
50 15
Brilliant Colonial Twin Pack LED Solar Light 60358/06
60 5
 

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Solar lights results table

Solar lights PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS
Brand / model (in rank order) Overall score (%) Battery life score (%) Light intensity score (%) On / off switch Number of lights per pack Number of batteries Type / size of battery Height (cm) Price ($) Price / light ($)
Brilliant LED Motion Sensing Solar Bollard 60368/16
www.blinklighting.com
88 100 60 1 3 Ni-Cd, AA 40 95 95
Homemaker Lifestyle Set of 10 Plastic Solar Garden Lights 40-417-103
www.kmart.com.au
79 100 30 10 (B) 1 Ni-Cd, AAA 37 25 3
Homemaker Lifestyle Set of 10 Stainless Steel Solar Lights 40-417-264
www.kmart.com.au
79 100 30 10 (B) 1 Ni-Cd, AAA 37 35 4
HPM Solar Accent Mini Marker Light Set 5-pack RSLSSSB5
www.hpm.com.au
79 100 30 5 3 Ni-MH, AA 13 95 19
Gardman 4 Solar Post Lights 18071
www.brunnings.com.au
78 90 50 4 1 Ni-MH, AAA 51 40 10
Nelson Solar LED Light and Bug Zapper MGLSL027
www.nelsonlamps.com.au
69 85 30 1 1 Ni-Cd, AA 30 20 20
Solar Magic Solar Garden Lights Stainless Steel 12-pack GL12
www.merlindistribution.com.au
54 55 50 12 1 Ni-Cd, AA 28 39 3
Brilliant Colonial Twin Pack LED Solar Light 60358/06
www.blinklighting.com
51 60 30 2 1 Ni-Cd, AA 40 35 18
Nelson Stainless Steel Solar LED Tier Light MGLSL020 (A)
www.nelsonlamps.com.au
50 50 50 1 1 Ni-Cd, AA 34 30 30
Solar Magic Solar Garden Lights 2-pack GLCSS2
www.merlindistribution.com.au
41 45 30 2 1 Ni-Cd, AA 24 10 5
 

Using the table

Solar scores The overall score is made up of:

  • Battery life: 70%
  • Light intensity: 30%

Table notes

(A) Discontinued, but may still be available in some stores.
(B) Available in other kit forms.

Price Recommended retail, as at February 2009.
Price ($) / light Rounded to the nearest whole dollar.

12V lights results table

12V lights PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS
Brand / model (in rank order) Light intensity
score (%)
Type of light Wattage
stated (W)
Full kit Number of
lights per pack
Height
(cm)
Running cost
per year / light ($)*
Price
($)
Price/light
($)
Brilliant Vista In-ground Bollard 60106
www.blinklighting.com
90 Halogen 50 1 60 17.90 99 99
Commercial Electric DIY 12V Outdoor Halogen Light CEHL12SB
www.commercialelectric.com.au
90 Halogen 10 1 30 5.40 18 18
Horizon Duncan 4 Piece Stainless Steel Garden Light Kit 60336/16
www.bunnings.com.au
90 Halogen 10 4 30 5.00 155 39
HPM Professional Choice Pathlight Set-Verdigris RGLKV5
www.hpm.com.au
90 Halogen 20 5 20 9.90 129 26
Nelson Broadway Path Light MGLSS07 (A)
www.nelsonlamps.com.au
90 Halogen 20 1 50 8.70 40 40
Nelson Stellar Pathlight MGLSS04 (A)
www.nelsonlamps.com.au
90 Halogen 20 1 47 9.10 50 50
Brilliant Madrid 12V LED Oval Bollard 80983/16
www.blinklighting.com
70 LED 2.9 1 50 2.80 105 105
Arlec 4 Tier Lights Garden Lighting Kit LV8
www.arlec.com.au
50 Incandescent 4 4 31 1.70 59 15
Arlec Night Glow Garden Light Kit 6 Lights LV67
www.arlec.com.au
50 Incandescent 4 6 31 2.20 90 15
Commercial Electric DIY 12V Outdoor LED Bollard Light CELED12BLB
www.commercialelectric.com.au
50 LED 1 1 50 2.60 55 55
Horizon Tierlight 4 Piece Garden Tier Light Kit 60341/06 Black
www.bunnings.com.au
50 Incandescent 5 4 25 2.60 69 17
HPM Mackay 2-Tier Pathlight RGLVPL
www.hpm.com.au
50 Halogen 5 (B) 1 32 4.00 5 5
Magic Garden 12V Extra Low Voltage LED Georgian Pathlight Kit MG3
www.merlindistribution.com.au
50 LED 0.46 5 35 0.60 90 18
Magic Garden LED Garden Light Kit 10-Pack GLKP10
www.merlindistribution.com.au
30 LED 0.21 10 46 0.50 40 4
 

Using the table

12Volt scores The overall score is made up of:
Light intensity: 100%

Table notes

* Running cost per year/light was based on usage of five hours every day for a year. Also includes transformer power usage, so costs may vary.
(A) Discontinued, but may still be available in some stores.
(B) Available in other kit forms, contact distributor for details.
Price Recommended retail, as at February 2009.
Price ($) / light Rounded to the nearest whole dollar.

How we test

Solar

  • Battery life Our tester conditions the batteries for 48 hours under direct sunlight prior to conducting the battery life test. He then exposes the lights to various lighting conditions, such as full and filtered sun, and cloudy conditions, over 12 days. At night he brings them inside and electronically measures how long they stay lit, up to a maximum of 12 hours.
  • Light intensity He also assesses the intensity of each light in a dark room.

12Volt

  • Light intensity He assesses the intensity of each light in a dark room and how easy the lights are to install. He also calculates the yearly running cost based on using one light.
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