Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cabin Life: The Joys of Solar LEDs

Never in my life have I ever been this excited about buying light bulbs.  Seriously, I told everyone about it.  This is a great day in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, when I’ve bought lights in the past, it’s been a joy.  But ordering strings of solar-powered LED lights was new high.  These lights will make a big impact in my existence, especially during the long winter when the sun goes down at four in the afternoon.

My original plan for this summer was to get a small solar panel and a battery to wire so that I could run some Christmas lights in the cabin.  Nothing much, but enough so that I didn’t have to wear a headlamp for six months.  That got real old last winter.  But after shopping around and realizing that I would have to spend several hundred dollars to get a suitable setup, I was relieved and delighted to find the lights I just ordered.

They are self-contained, with a small solar panel attached directly to a string of one hundred LED bulbs.  The strings are fifty-five feet long, which gives me plenty of wire to go all the way around the cabin with both sets, since the cabin is only twenty feet by twenty-four feet.  Plus, they have a sensor built in to turn on at dusk so that when I leave in the afternoon, I will have light when I get back to cabin after sundown.

I’m not trying to plug a certain product, but I just can’t begin to describe how excited I am about having artificial light in the cabin.  Frankly, I can’t believe that the place didn’t burn down last winter, with candles and kerosene lamps burning all the time.  And this will be healthier for me too.  Breathing all that smoke can’t be good, and the amount of times I stub my toes this winter will be down drastically.  It’s win-win for me, which is all anyone can really ask for, isn’t it?

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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

6 Responses

  1. Valerie says:

    That’s a fantastic solution to the long, dark nights of winter!!

  2. Bill says:

    Can you give us a hint at where we can find this light setup? Thanks

  3. Lisa Berger says:

    Yes! Please share your source with us!!!

  4. Scott W. Saranac Lake says:

    I have a small camp off the grid on the Saranac Chain. 8 years ago I purchased and installed 2 PV pannels, a controller, and some 12 volt deep cycle batteries. Initially I used 12 volt MR lamps or 12 volt auto bulbs around the camp, not energy efficient but they worked fine. Now, with the availability of inexpensive LED lamps I’ve started to convert everything to LED’s. The deep cycle batteries now provide enough current to run all the lighting, charge my cell phone and tablet, run the music system (12 volt) and my 12 volt VHFradios all night long even on cloudy days. This technology is very available and the prices keep dropping. Just do a web search for solar power, or solar powered LED light strings. There are 100’s of dealers and vendors. (I still light the oil lamps now and then for some old time ambiance)

  5. Justin says:

    Well, as Scott said above, there is a variety of places to get this technology, and it’s very inexpensive. I just got on Amazon and shopped around. The link to the specific ones I got is below, and so far they work great! The solar panel is very small and after only a few hours of charging, they stay on for six to eight hours. But there are plenty of options. I got the longest string with the most bulbs I could find (55′ string, 100 bulbs) so that I could cover more of the cabin.

  6. Brad says:

    I found ‘heaven’ in 12v powered G… Z… brand LED lights, running off my own 2 car battery grid…wonderful for light output, low draw, reliability and longevity. Also now can run 12v powered radio/MPS speakers w/o worrying about running out of juice like w old 12V fluorescents or incandescents – claimed 40w equivalent = 3W draw each lamp. Very impressed; 2+ years experience. Now to experiment w solar panels…

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