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Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
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Top Of The Best String Lights Reviewed In 2018Last Updated November 1, 2018
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№3 – LED String Lights 33 ft with 100 LEDs, TaoTronics Waterproof Decorative Lights for Bedroom, Patio, Parties ( Copper Wire Lights, Warm White )
Jasco Enbrighten Café LED String Lights
Brightech Ambience PRO LED Indoor/Outdoor Light Strand
Proxy Lighting Weatherproof Outdoor 4Feet Light String
Brightech Weatherproof Ambience Pro Commercial Grade Lights
Brightech Ambience Pro- Weatherproof LED String Lights
Outdoor light display
We also offer outdoor lights to decorate your garden all the way to the street. These lights can decorate the porch, pathway, walls of the house, or your roof. It is best to get a timer if you want to get outdoor lights. Timers automatically turn on the lights at night. It also turns them off in the morning. You will save on utility expenses using a timer. Extension cords for outdoor use may also be needed. Be careful not to use indoor lights outside the house. These lights are not as heavy-duty or strong enough for outdoor use.
Christmas lights are ideal for decorating the house during the holiday season. They also enhance your home during parties or simply leave the kids in awe at the brightness they provide during Christmas.
These multi-colored lights are affordable and versatile. They come with a solar panel so you can charge the lights for the whole day, allowing them to illuminate at night. When fully charged, these lights will run for up to hours straight.
These lights come with switches. One is for turning them on or off. The other is for changing between the lighting modes. These light come in vibrant colors. These colors will surely make your space more festive and colorful.
Here’s another key feature – the strand length. If you just want to hang up the lights on your patio, you may choose lights with a shorter strand length. However, if you’re planning to wrap the lights around objects, you may choose a longer strand.
Some lights have extra features which can add to their convenience. You can also look into these features to help you decide which one is best for you. These features may not be very important, but they do add appeal to the lights.
When you’re going through the selection process, make sure to read all the product details. Do this so you know what you’re paying for and what to expect from the product.
A standard set of 100 led solar fairy lights should have a minimum of 200 mAh or milliamp hours this could also be expressed as 0.watts. This requirement increases as the number of led’s and therefore the cable length increases, as it takes more and more voltage to push the power through the cable.
So for example a set of 200 led lights needs at least watt of solar panel power. PowerBee are famous for going even further than this basic requirement. Take for example the standard 100 led warm white lights, these actually have a 300 mAh panel.
This is part of the reason that in their class the Endurance range are the best solar powered lights you can buy and will outperform any other set by some degree.
Spot lights need to produce quite a powerful light, it needs to be intense so as to light up the selected location to at least some useful or pleasingly aesthetic degree, for this reason a solar spot light needs to have a good quality high watt panel, to produce enough voltage, and a decent battery capacity to allow the light to emit a good amount of lumens for a prolonged period of time.
The number and type of LEDs is also an important factor, as this will determine the light output, this is nearly always expressed in lumens, we would recommend that the minimum lumen’s output for a half descent solar spot light should be 80. If the spotlight does not inform you of the lumens value then you can almost be certain it will be far lower than this value, some ‘spot lights’ we tested were around lumens output, which really should be sold as a novelty light.
There are really two very different categories for solar power spotlights: • There are small plant type highlighters which do produce a large amount of light and need to be placed very close to the plant or shrub in question, these lights will certainly highlight part a small bush during summer, but will not work during winter, or on cloudy days. • The second type of solar spot light is what we regard at powerbee to be a true spot light, it depends on what the customer wants at the end of the day, however we certainly feel that a spot light should work during winter, to at Least some degree, and should have the flexibility to be located away from the tree, bush or feature wishing to be highlighted, if you take for example the custodian, you will be able highlight a small to medium size bush or tree, from 1feet away, nearly all year around (in winter operation will be limited but if the panel is facing south without shade then this will be on average – hours every day ).
The smaller plant type highlighters will operate in average for around – 20 minutes during UK winter time if you can see them at all, it’s such a waste because it’s a real treat to have light in your garden in winter and truly can cheer you up no end!
Eye Catching Effects
Create life and movement with melting icicles and sparkling crystals!
You may already have a good idea of the type of lights you want and what look you are want to achieve. However if you are still looking for some inspiration then we suggest checking out our Social Media Pages where we post inspirational ideas to help you achieve the ultimate festive sparkle.
Check out our ideas on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest now.
Take a few moments to think about your most suitable place for storing the lights throughout the year when they are not lighting up your house. A dry and cool environment is best and you may want to consider buying some plastic storage boxes rather than trying to squeeze the lights back into the packaging they came in.
Light bulb technology
There are three types of light bulb currently available: LED are the most efficient, followed by CFL and then halogen.
Halogen bulbs are being phased out from September 2016, starting with directional bulbs (spotlights) and followed by non-directional bulbs in 2018.
LEDs have a much longer lifespan than other bulbs and are now more affordable, but they are less suited to dimmers. It’s worth checking if the bulb is dimmable before purchasing.
Colour temperature is measured in Kelvins and can help to create different moods around the home. Bulbs with a low Kelvin rating (around 2700K) produce a warm, yellowish light, perfect for relaxing and unwinding, while bulbs with a higher Kelvin rating (over 5000K) omit a cool, bluish colour which is ideal for task-based activities.
Dining room lighting
Pendant lights shine light down onto the table, drawing attention to the main focus of the room. Lights hung in a cluster or a chandelier fitting can really make an impact in your dining area.
Additional floor lamps or wall lights are ideal for entertaining as they provide softer, atmospheric lighting.
A ceiling light provides bright lighting for the whole room while desk lamps or positioned spotlights offer directional light for reading and studying.
Consider an illuminated mirror for applying make-up, these mimic natural light for application accuracy.
Use spotlights to illuminate the inside of a wardrobe to make it easier to see into a dark space.
Children’s bedroom lighting
This lighting should be bright and functional for playing. Celling lights provide good general lighting while table lamps or night lights offer a softer glow in the evening.
A desk lamp is an ideal choice for homework and studying.
Many of our table lamps have a fully encased light bulb to prevent little fingers from touching the hot surface.
Bathroom lights require additional protection from water and moisture, this is indicated by an IP (ingress protection) rating. All bathroom lights need a minimum IP4rating to comply with British wiring regulations.
Bathrooms have three safety ‘zones’ – 0, and These zones are identified by their likely contact with water and determine what type of light you can use in that area.
Only light fittings with a suitable IP rating can be used in a specific zone. Argos’ bathroom lights should only be used in zones and in the bathroom, but can also be used in other areas of the house too.
Zone 0: the inside of the bath or shower (IP6and 12V SELV recommended)
Zone 1: the area directly around the bath or shower, up to a height of 2.25m above the floor and at a radius of 1.2m from the water outlet (IP6recommended)
Zone 2: 60cm wide and covers areas next to and around zone 1(IP4recommended)
The light switch should be a pull cord inside the bathroom or a regular light switch outside.
You’ll need a good level of light from ceiling lights for food preparation and cooking in the kitchen area.
Light fittings which have moveable spotlights allow you to angle light on areas which need additional illumination, such as a worktop, sink or oven. Under cabinet spotlights can also provide extra light for tasks like chopping.
Kitchen areas are also subject to lighting safety ‘zone’ legislation but this is only applicable to the area directly above the sink. This is classified as zone and therefore an IP rating of 4is required.
Table, floor and pendant lights usually always require a lamp shade and this is where you can experiment with colour, pattern or texture. Along with traditional fabric shades, glass, metal and natural fibres like wicker are stylish choices.
Switches and dimmers
These have single, double or triple switch buttons and are usually made from metal or plastic. Switch plate finishes include chrome effect, brushed steel, nickel effect and white. Dimmer switches control the brightness of your light, either by touch, a rotating switch, or remotely through a smart phone.
Important notes before getting your project started
Step 1: Get a clear vision! Because each project is unique, there is no all-in-one solution. Different projects require different types of LED strips.
Do you want to dim your lights or control them with a remote or wall switch?
Wattage consumed per strip of LEDs
Power consumption is one of the reasons we as a society have begun switching to LEDs. Wattage tells us how much power we are consuming while these lights are on, and in turn how much we’ll have to pay at the end of each month. Once again, be sure to verify the wattage per foot, meter, or reel before you buy.
Some may read “2watts” on a reel and then get home and realize this is per meter or per foot, meaning the whole reel actually uses much more. Making matters worse, they have bought a power supply that covers 30 watts, thinking that would be enough. This often occurs when a seller doesn’t properly list important information in an easy to read format.
1-year quality guarantee: Promotes worry-free buying experience.
Multipurpose functionality: These lights can be used for weddings, parties, tents, decks, patios, and more.
2bulbs: They provide enough light to make sure your outdoor space looks beautiful and well lit at night.
APEXPOWER Warm White Outdoor Solar String Lights
One great thing about the APEXPOWER Solar String Lights is that you don’t need to switch them on or off. They light up automatically at dusk and turn off automatically when ambient light is above 15lux. Additionally, these lights are powered by solar and this makes them environment-friendly.
Accent lighting does exactly what it says in the name. This type of lighting accentuates a specific area, highlighting objects such as ornaments and wall accessories. Ambient lighting gives mood and ambience to a room. This type of lighting is usually the first installation with regards to decorating a room.
Task lighting gives a direct and focused illumination onto an area that would be specifically used for practical activities. For instance, chopping, cooking, reading and writing. Task lighting helps prevents fatigue, promotes progression and helps improve ease and clarity.
All rooms should feature more than one source of light. Combining different types of lighting will add more ambience and contrast to a room. Here we’ll look at the main types of lighting available.
It’s very rare to come across a room that doesn’t feature some sort of ceiling light, whether it be pendant, chandelier or spotlight. Depending on the size of a room pendant lights and chandeliers can feature anywhere from a standard living room to a high ceiling hall way. Just make sure you take into consideration the dimensions and drops when looking at size and measurements.
Ceiling lights come in an array of finishes and styles to suit all types of interiors, from industrial to shabby chic, classic to contemporary. For instance, a brushed metal finish would work better in a more industrial or antique setting. Whereas powder coated, glass and chrome finishes would be at home in a more contemporary interior.
Pendant lighting can be installed singularly or grouped together to create a statement feature. Wider areas such as breakfast bars, island or dining tables will benefit from a wider ceiling light or two or three pendants grouped together.
Forgotten areas of the home such as dark corners and reading nooks will benefit from a floor lamp. Whether an arched design or adjustable neck, floor lamps can give task light as well as ambient and can be paired with table lamps for a coordinated look. Litecraft’s glass shade designs are also great for adding a decorative statement.
Wall lights and spotlights
Another way to add an ambient glow to a room is by installing wall lights. Furthermore, a subtle glow can be achieved with frosted glass detail and a low-wattage bulb. Team with a pendant or chandelier as a secondary lighting option when you want a more subdued ambience. Whilst originally seen in lounge and dining areas, Litecraft now offer bathroom wall lights including crystal designs for an elegant touch.
Spotlights are handy installations and can be installed in a number of places around the house. Use together with other lighting for a back up glow. Install as accent lighting or to brighten a forgotten area, you can even have spotlights on bars and plates to give individual pools of light to specific work areas such as kitchen work surfaces.
Shades are a great option due to their versatility. Not only do they add warmth and ambience, they are also great at bringing an interior together by tying in colours and textures to help a room flow. Shades can be fitted to almost any light fitting, whether it be a simple easy fit ceiling light, a shaded table lamp or a floor lamp with an adjustable shade.
Litecraft offer a range of traditional lampshades suitable for table, floor and ceiling including our Round Knife pleated range and our Box Pleat Shade collection. We also stock on trend designs to suit a particular theme including copper designs, wicker textured styles and even Tiffany glass ranges.
How to choose your bulb
There are so many different bulb designs and specifications. Here we’ll break down the differences for an easier shopping experience.
Choose the bulb shape and size to best suit your lamp, here’s our range of bulb types to help you. At Litecraft all our lighting products are provided with a bulb recommendation whether on our packaging or on product pages via our website.
Caps provide the electrical connection between the bulb and the fitting. Again a clear bulb and cap specification will be provided on either the lighting box or the actual light fitting product page on our website. The following caps are available from Litecraft.
If you’re after a dimmed and moodier ambience then check out our Halogen range. These bulbs are great for touch table lamps and dimmable lighting so perfect to dim the ambience later in the evening. Halogen bulbs also look great in crystal and glass fittings such as chandeliers as they boost the sparkle element with their crisp white light. These bulbs are great if you’re after an energy efficient bulb, up to 30% more than an incandescent bulb to be exact. The average lifespan of a halogen bulb is 2000 hours.
Here’s a little technical information regarding bulb, the three key measurements to look at when purchasing bulbs are:
As of 2010, the brightness of a bulb is referred to as lumen as oppose to the original term of wattage. The European Legislation decided that lumen was a better way to measure the brightness of a bulb. Here’s a simple conversion for Incandescent to LED and Lumen with regards to their wattage:
After spending over 60 hours researching Christmas lights, interviewing experts, and testing 20 strands of lights side by side, we’ve found that GE’s Energy Smart Colorite LED Miniature Lights (available in multicolor strands of 50 bulbs or 100 bulbs and in warm white strands of 50 bulbs or 100 bulbs) are the best all-around indoor Christmas lights. This is the third year we’ve named these GE lights as our pick, and we can’t find any lights that match their color quality and their ready availability at Home Depot.
We’re working on an update for the holiday season, and we plan to add our thoughts on smartphone-app light sets such as Home Depot’s AppLights. For now, we’re confident that our current picks, all of which are currently in stock, remain the best lights for most people.
How we picked and tested
We concentrated our research and testing strictly on nonblinking miniature lights, the traditional, small, stranded Christmas lights with a clear or semiclear bulb and a candle shape.
An article at DIY Network says that even though larger bulbs are growing in popularity, “mini lights have been by far the most popular during the past decade.” They’re the standard, and we wanted to focus on the lights that most people will be using, rather than those with a lesser following. Still, we do have some thoughts on the larger-bulb lights, and on other bulb sizes that didn’t make the cut. During our research, we also found that blinking lights are a very small minority of available lights, so we stayed with the type that remains lit at all times.
Once we dug into our options, we soon realized that our recommended lights would be fully rectified LEDs and not traditional incandescents. As Northern Seasonal’s Ben Orr, the lighting installer, told us, “LED lights allow you to do more with less.” They’re more durable, they’re safer, and you can connect together a much higher number of strands without any risk of tripping a breaker or a GFCI outlet. They also just plain ol’ last longer and use a fraction of the electricity that incandescents use.
In an article on the Christmas Designers website, Jason Woodward writes that “the benefits offered by LEDs are almost as significant as the benefits that incandescents provided over candles.” There’s no question that LEDs cost more than incandescents (they’re at least twice the price), but we believe that the long-term benefits are worth that added cost.
Some LEDs are better than others, however. All LED Christmas lights blink on and off many times per second, like a fluorescent light. The ones that are fully rectified, or full-wave, light up at a rate of 120 times per second, which is faster than the eye can detect. Lights that are known as half-wave, sometimes called non-rectified, blink 60 times per second, which can create a dizzying flickering effect. Orr told us that when a non-rectified strand is moving, the flickering becomes more apparent, and we confirmed this effect during our testing: Just by giving a non-rectified strand a slight jiggle, we made the lights take on a strobe effect that was very unpleasant to look at. In our tests, even when they were not moving, those lights seemed to have a harshness, an electronic feel, that the rectified lights didn’t have.
For outdoor lights, our experts directed us toward a specific style of LED, 5-millimeter wide-angle conicals. The bulbs on these lights are stubby and don’t have the homespun look of the small glass candle found on other mini lights. They are much brighter than regular mini lights (both LED and incandescent), and the unique shape of the bulb adds depth and complexity to the lights’ appearance. As Orr told us, this shape allows the strand to “refract the light and create a cool look depending on the angle of view. It appears that some are brighter than others and it adds contrast.” Orr, who specializes in exterior displays, added that mm wide-angle lights are generally his favorite light. And Christmas Designers, in a video dedicated to the bulbs, says these lights are “by far the most popular set we sell.”
But as with regular LED bulbs, the color of the light is a concern. We figure that if you’re reading this guide, you’re probably interested in replacing an old set of incandescent lights—but even if you want something more efficient and durable, you don’t want to give up the traditional lights’ familiar warm glow. Unfortunately, that is a big issue with LEDs.
Both Orr and Woodward warned us that LEDs simply do not look like incandescents. Due to improvements in the technology, many companies manufacture a “warm white” color that, depending on the quality of the LED, can closely mimic, but not fully achieve, the pinpoint sparkle of an incandescent. Orr stressed that “LED technology varies throughout the industry, and a warm white from one supplier can vary in hues and color drastically from another.” He even suggested buying strands from a few different manufacturers to compare them and see which hue you like best before making a large purchase. Once you find something you like, he said, buy from only that manufacturer. Our testing confirmed that there is a tremendous variety in LED color hues, from the fantastic to the terrible.
We dismissed companies that had overall poor reviews (Holiday Time), strange or incomplete bulb selections (EcoSmart), or suspiciously low pricing (Home Accents). Other companies, like Hometown Evolution, AGPtek, and Deneve, fall more into general exterior decor and don’t have a very good selection of Christmas lights. AGPtek, in particular, deals only in solar-powered or battery lights, which are more of a specialty item, and we wanted to concentrate on general tree and exterior lighting.
Our original testing consisted of 1sets, including colored and white mini lights, both LED and incandescent. We also tested a number of mm wide-angle conical LEDs, since our experts recommended them for exterior use. Then, in 2015, we looked at two new sets from Christmas Designers, the TSmooth LED Lights in both warm white and multicolor.
Ready to begin testing.
To evaluate the lights, we wound and unwound them, draped them over and into Christmas trees and rhododendrons, and tucked them in and out of deck railings. Basically, we tried to use the lights how they’re intended to be used. We tested the weather impermeability of the exterior lights by plugging them in and sinking the strands of lights into a 3-gallon bucket of water. While this test was a bit extreme, it’s certainly possible that any set of exterior lights will end up in a puddle or draped in a gutter.
Overall, we found that the wire quality has a lot to do with the success of a strand of lights. Some of the tested lights had tidy, close-knit strands of wire, while others were loose and messy. Some wires needed untwisting before use, like an old phone cord, and still others continued to accordion back on themselves no matter how we tried to stretch them out and lay them flat.
We also assessed each strand for color quality, using the incandescent strands as a benchmark, with the input of Susan Moriarty, executive creative director and founder of The Soapbox Studio. She’s a die-hard fan of the warmth that incandescent Christmas lights emit, so we asked her to compare the classics against new LEDs. Even though Moriarty did her evaluations in a blind fashion, she consistently chose along brand lines, a result that backed up Orr’s suggestion to select a single manufacturer and stick with it.
Long-term test notes
After two seasons of having the GE Energy Smart Colorite LED Miniature Lights on my tree, I have no complaints. Just recently (fall 2016) I took them out of storage for the holidays, and all of the bulbs work fine. I’ve noticed that the wire stranding has loosened a little, but the lights are still fairly well organized, and I don’t foresee any issues with putting them around a tree.
GKI/Bethlehem’s LEDs are nice lights, but we found that their color and wire quality didn’t match that of the GE or Christmas Designers lights.
The multicolor LED lights sold by Noma (known as Holiday Wonderland in the US) had a nice hue in our tests, but they’re non-rectified, so they have the potential for flicker—and if you merely jiggle them, they produce a dizzying strobe effect.
We also tested Noma’s mm wide-angle multicolored LEDs. Like the other Noma lights, this set is non-rectified. And because these lights employ a two-piece bulb and socket design, there is a chance of water infiltration, making them less than ideal for exterior applications.
GKI/Bethlehem’s wide-angle LEDs had a tidy wire but lacked the color quality of the wide-angle LEDs from the specialty stores. The whites had a far whiter hue. Even though this strand is sold as a warm white, in our tests The Soapbox Studio’s Susan Moriarty didn’t see a whole lot of warmth to it.
Wide-angle conical lights from Christmas Designers (top) and Christmas Light Source (bottom). Notice what a disaster the wiring is on the CLS lights. The best of the tested lights had nice, organized wires like the ones from Christmas Designers.
The wide-angle LEDs from Christmas Light Source had the most frustrating wire of all the lights we tested. Each bulb needed twisting and turning for the strand to lie flat, and even then it kept trying to spring back to how it was. The individual wires were loose from one another and had uneven loops. It was a nightmare to feed them through a tight spot like a railing or even between two branches.
The Brite Star clear incandescents we tested were very nice, and in light quality they were on a par with the strands from Christmas Designers and GE. We didn’t make them a recommendation because they have a 2½-inch spacing, which seems a little tight for most people. As we mention above, inches is the standard.
While the Brite Star incandescents were a success in our tests, the company’s LED Mini Ice Lights were a total failure. Everything bad about LEDs was on display with these lights. When we plugged them in, the result was like having 50 small computer screens lit up on a wire strand. It was just awful. They’re non-rectified, and the effect is not a positive one. The light that these LEDs emit is about as natural as the ingredients list on a Twinkie.
Cluster lights offer a unique and hazy look, but because they have so many bulbs per strand, they quickly get expensive.
In 2016, we tested two different styles of cluster lights. Such strands, which have been popular in Europe for years, have much smaller bulbs (either mm or mm conicals) and a vastly higher bulb density—a 10-foot strand has almost 450 bulbs on it, in contrast to traditional mini lights, which might have only 50 bulbs on a 16-foot strand. With regular mini lights, the bulb is attached to the main wire, but on a cluster strand, the bulb sits on the end of a 2½-inch extension coming off the main wire. The spacing on these extensions can be as little as ⅛ inch. On a tree, cluster lights offer a hazy, almost fairy-tale effect.
We found them available in two styles: straight strands and tree ready. The straight strands are self-explanatory, but the tree style is a little more complicated. This design—consisting of a central (non-lit) wire with a series of cluster strands coming off it, each one longer than the last—allows you to hang the main line vertically from the top of the tree (with the shortest cluster at the top) and then unravel each cluster around the tree. Lighting a tree this way takes hardly any time at all (this video shows the process). The lights are available for either 6-foot or 6.75-foot trees in warm or cool white.
If you are interested in cluster lights, we recommend sticking with a trusted retailer due to the variances we’ve seen with LED light quality. The ones we tested were from Christmas Designers, and these bulbs have the same warm incandescent-like look as the company’s other LED products.
Nickel Cadmium batteries have the best temperature range. They are also suitable for use outdoors. While many batteries are replaceable, you should check for odd sizes used in small-size lights. The price of replacement batteries are also higher compared to the ones included in the solar powered light.
Avoid different battery combinations
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries cannot replace Nickel Cadmium batteries. The charging requirements of these two batteries are not the same. Many inexpensive lights feature basic charging circuits. These circuits work with specific types of batteries.
This tip came from a friend and you may find it useful.
I have been using string solar powered fairy LED lights for a number of years already. These worked well even though they were inexpensive. Nevertheless, a whole set was damaged by frost after I left it outside since the cold weather seems to affect electronics. Foxes also chewed on the wires. They work the whole year round in London since the weather is not quite sunny. But, two weeks during Christmas or the winter solstice, something appears to go wrong with my solar powered lights. Due to this, I try to spend Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere if possible since the weather is warm and sunny.
But, you really need to do your research and maintain your solar-powered lights. When you buy a set, make sure to check their tolerance. Brighter lights require more energy. But, it may not be necessary to fill up everything outside the house with lights at night.
ADDLON Outdoor Solar LED String Lights
ADDLON is your outdoor Christmas lighting innovator, and as such, will help you create fairy lighting carnival by solar power. At 2meters long, the ADDLON Outdoor Solar LED String Lights will see that you transform anything you like into a gorgeous, sparkling body. It is waterproof; hence, perfect for outdoor use like in the patio, lawn, landscape, and more. You can also use it indoors to decorate your Christmas tree for a jovial festive season. ADDLON Outdoor Solar LED String Lights is an eco-friendly product, which is recharged by solar panel under sunlight.
Mpow 2-Pack Outdoor Solar LED Wall Light
Who said you can’t swim outside at night? The Mpow 2-Pack Outdoor Solar LED Wall Light totally disagree with that. It is designed to provide light to areas with inadequate illumination. Such areas include yard, porch, patio, lawn, garden, pool, path, and more. It is heat resistant and waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about any outdoor damage. It has bright LED lights that are bright enough to offer excellent illumination. This outdoor solar LED wall light will turn dark spaces in your compound into brightly lit spaces and improve security in the area.
InnoGear Outdoor Wall Light
Yes, it’s here. The InnoGear Outdoor Wall Light is designed to illuminate your compound and make sure darkness does not hinder you from achieving your goals. It is waterproof and heatproof, so expect to escape outdoor damage. Best of all, the InnoGear Outdoor Wall Light does not require installation at all. All you need to do is to stick it into the ground and wait for the magic at night. Use it to light up your patio, lawn, and swimming pool areas.
Sunforce 82080 Solar Motion Light
Did you know you can use the power of the sun during the day to light dark areas in your compound at night? Yes, it’s possible and all you need is the Sunforce 82080 Solar Motion Light. It automatically turns on when motion is detected meaning it will take security in your compound to the next level. The 80 super-bright white LEDs are protected in ABS plastic housing for superior durability. The Sunforce 82080 Solar Motion Light is totally weather resistant and can be mounted almost anywhere.
Litom 2-Pack Outdoor Solar LED Light
This outdoor solar LED light is designed to offer strong illumination and super-bright lighting for a wide area. They feature update PIR motion sensor and can detect motion up to 2feet away. Security in your compound will be beefed up immediately you buy and install these innovative lighting systems. When fully charged, it lasts for – hours in steady mode. Litom 2-Pack Outdoor Solar LED Light is ideal for backyard, entryway, deck area, patio, back door, front door, balcony, and more.
Litom Outdoor Solar 200 LED String Lights
The Litom Outdoor 200LED String Light has switches; one is mode button while the other is power ON/OFF. Press the mode button and the light will change to Waves, Twinkle/Flash, Slow fade, Slo-Glo, Combination, and Sequential. The light is easy to install and all you need to do is to plug into the earth. It is perfect for decorating gardens, yard, gate, patio, lawn, and porch. It is waterproof; hence, it won’t be damaged by rain or any bad weather.
URPOWER Pack Solar Lights
Ask any user and they will confirm to you that these in-ground lights are the latest technology for beautiful, high-tech landscaping. Retract them during the day, so they can absorb solar energy, but at night, let them pop up to give you light along your driveway, dock, deck or pathway. Installing these lights is a breeze, and they are powered by a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which is solar powered. The fact that each light works independently means one has no effects over the other.
Install this outdoor solar LED light in seconds and wait for darkness to return, so you can chase it away. It is solar powered and it will harness the energy of the sun to deliver a super-bright light at night. The automated switch will turn on upon detecting motion, so expect this innovative outdoor solar LED light to be a plus to your security. When it detects motion, it offers max-brightness illumination for safety and security. It is perfect for aisle, driveway, porch, patio, and garden.
Litom Outdoor Solar 2LED Lights
Made of high-impact ABS material, these outdoor solar LED lights are among the most durable outdoor lights you’ll ever come across. They can be mounted on the wall with the included wall plug and screws. You don’t need any cable or wire to install this lighting system. The fact that it is waterproof means it can withstand even the most extreme weather conditions. The Litom Outdoor Solar 2LED Lights can detect motion from up to 2feet. It features optional modes to allow you get one that suits your diverse needs.
Top Best LED Grow Lights & Indoor Plant Grow Lights In 2018
Pros & Cons of LED Light
LED stands for light emitting diode, which are semiconductors that produce light when charged. LED bulbs have an average lifespan of over 50,000 hours, compared to a little over 1,000 for conventional incandescent bulbs. As a LED ages, the amount of light it gives off dissipates over time.
Pros & Cons of CFL Light
CFL stands for compact fluorescent lighting, which is simply a smaller version of a fluorescent tube. CFL bulbs contain a mercury vapor that lights when it is energized. Because CFLs contain mercury, they must be disposed of carefully, at designated drop-off site (Home Depot, Lowes, recycling centers, etc). An average CFL bulb should last 7,000 hours.
Pros & Cons of Incandescent Light
Incandescent light is an electric process that produces light with a wire filament that is heated to a high temperature by an electric current which runs through it. This is the type of lighting which was the standard in homes up until the 1990’s. Due to its poor energy efficiency, it is being replaced with the newer technology of LED and CFL bulbs. Incandescent bulbs last roughly 1,000 hours.
Pros & Cons of Halogen Light
Similar to incandescent light bulbs, halogen bulbs use a similar electric-filament technology with one important difference; with incandescents the filament degrades via evaporation over time whereas, with halogens, filament evaporation is prevented by a chemical process that redeposits metal vapor onto the filament, thereby extending its life. Halogen bulbs have a lifespan of roughly 3,000 hours.
Color Temperature & Lighting Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light. The temperature of light refers to its warmness or coolness, or hue. This temperature is measured using the Kelvin scale, which for most use ranges from 2,700°-7,500°K. Incandescent and halogen lighting are the most limited in the temperature range at 2,700°-3,000°K. LED and CFL have each expanded their color range to now offering warmer options. Most task lighting, however, benefits from cooler lighting options which include LED, full spectrum, and CFL.
Understanding Lumens & Brightness is a measurement of light output from a lamp, often called a tube or a bulb. All lamps are rated in lumens. For example, a 100-watt incandescent lamp produces about 1,600 lumens.
The distribution of light on a flat surface is called its illumination and is measured in footcandles. A footcandle of illumination is a lumen of light spread over a one square foot area.
The illumination needed varies according to the difficulty of a visual task. Ideal illumination is the minimum footcandles necessary to allow you to perform a task comfortably and efficiently without eyestrain or fatigue. According to the Illuminating Engineering Society, illumination of 30 to 50 footcandles is needed for most home and office work. Intricate and lengthy visual tasks — like sewing — require 200 to 500 footcandles.
1,000-1,400 Lumens is a commonly accepted range for most applications of task lighting. An average of 50 Lumens per square foot is a common measure. efficacy. Efficacy is the ratio of light output from a lamp to the electric power it uses and is measured in lumens per watt.
Demystifying LED Light
When comparing the raw lumen output of traditional lamps with the lumen output of many LED lamps, it may seem that LEDs deliver less light than the conventional counterparts. These comparisons, however, are inaccurate and misleading, since they fail to account for the amount of wasted light in conventional lighting.
Therefore, lumen output is a poor measure of the suitability of a lamp for a given task. The better measure is delivered light — how much light a fixture delivers to a surface, as measured in lux (lx) or footcandles (fc). You can make comparisons between conventional and LED lighting fixtures on the basis of delivered light, as it measures how much of a light source’s raw lumen output reaches a surface or area you are lighting.
Determining the amount of a conventional lamp’s raw lumen output reaches as area, you must discount any light lost in the fixture housing (at times over 30%), as well as the light lost as a result of shading, lensing, and filtering. Since incandescent and fluorescent lamps often emit light in many directions, you must also discount any light cast away from the target area.
Reading area or den
The reading area should have a bright task lamp. A bright desk lamp can prevent eye strain which is helpful in preventing eye damage in the long run. With bright task lamps in the reading area, you can keep headaches away. Thus, you will surely enjoy reading as well as other activities like writing letters or completing puzzles.
Your kitchen is another part of the home that requires task lighting. The dangerous nature of the activities you do in your kitchen is reason enough to get additional task lighting. More importantly, you need enough light to read recipes and to see the ingredients as they cook as well as other practical things. For kitchens, common task lighting fixtures are under cabinet lights that provide extra illumination to supplement the ambient light.
Assessing Your Lighting System Needs
In putting together your lighting system, it’s useful to consider what you want to achieve. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Regarding the last question, if you’ll be handling your own lighting during performances, features such as remote control, foot pedal control, and programmability will be important considerations.
LED vs. Conventional Lighting Fixtures
Inexpensive LED fixtures typically have smaller, low-power LEDs while larger, high-end fixtures are equipped with one-watt or three-watt diodes for much more impact. Smaller LEDs are often designated by their sizes—typically 5mm or 10mm. A 10mm diode is proportionately much brighter than a 5MM LED.
Light-emitting diodes or LEDs have revolutionized all kinds of lighting fixtures from those used in autos and homes to even the humble flashlight. For many good reasons, the LED’s impact on stage lighting and effects has been huge. Major acts such as Radiohead have recently toured using LED lighting exclusively. Let’s look at LED lighting’s advantages and disadvantages in comparison with traditional lighting:
Strobe and Laser Effects
Strobe effects use a pulsing white light beam to create a visual stuttering effect similar to viewing old-time films. They’re very popular in dance clubs and are available with both traditional filament bulbs as well as LEDs in a range of power levels to match various venues. You can choose from standalone models or DMX-controlled strobes that can be programmed with custom patterns. Sound-activated models can create a particularly exciting ambience on the dancefloor. Note that many LED PAR cans and effects lighting fixtures include strobing functions that may be adequate for your needs.
Laser effects produce very intense single-color beams and often include built-in display programs as well as sound-activated functions using a built-in mic. Motorized units allow scanning and burst effects, and the inclusion of gobos can create patterned laser beams. More advanced laser effect fixtures can produce 3-D effects and detailed backdrops, skyscapes, and much more. Lasers are especially effective when used in conjunction with fog machines.
Black Lights and UV Lights
These fixtures are a simple, low-cost way to add a special ambience to performance spaces and other venues. They enhance the appearance of white and fluorescent colors in darkened spaces creating a ghostly glow. Black lights are available in standard fluorescent tube and incandescent bulb formats that use standard lighting fixtures as well as newly developed LED fixtures.
PAR Can Lighting Fixtures
These lights are a staple of stage and live-sound lighting. These basic fixtures have a metal housing, mounting bracket, reflector, and socket that can accept a variety of different lamp types. They’re often used in large numbers to illuminate certain performers or stage areas and are usually mounted on overhead trusses. They do not offer a true hard-edge beam; the width of the beam is determined by the shape and positioning of the PAR can’s reflector.
PAR cans come in a wide range of sizes and are identified by their diameters in eighths of an inch. A PAR64, for example, has an 8″ diameter (because 6eighths of an inch equals 8″). Most include a holder allowing colored gels to be mounted in front of the lens.
Note that PAR3lamps are sometimes designated as simply SP (Spot) or FL (Flood).
The power requirements of PAR cans with incandescent lamps can add up fast. Those for smaller stages are typically in the 75-150 watt range. PAR3cans typically run between 50-150 watts. PAR46s usually have 200-watt lamps, PAR56s usually range from 300-500 watts, and PAR 64s range from 500-1000 watts. This is where the LED technology really shines (pun intended). They not only use a fraction of the power required by incandescent fixtures, but also reduce the number of fixtures needed in order to create a wide range of color options.
A common lighting setup for bands involves the use of a pair of light trees on either side of the stage, each holding enough PAR3cans with spot lamps and amber or light pink gels to light each frontline band member. Drummers are usually lit from the back and sides. Mounting the light trees to the tops of your main speakers is a space-saving strategy.
PAR cans and other lighting fixtures that have a double-yoke support system are something to look for if you want maximum placement flexibility. Double yokes allow mounting the fixture from a truss or placing it on a floor, speaker, or stage without a separate mount.
Today, many PAR fixtures are equipped with LEDs instead of traditional incandescent bulbs, giving them multi-color and color-mixing options. As noted above, PAR cans with LEDs generate much less heat, require far less power, and don’t require the use of dimmer packs.
The Thinpar6from Venue uses 100 bright LEDS to generate intense static or pulsing colors plus sound-activated and automated programs with master/slave or DMX-controlled operation.
Dimmer and Switch Packs
PAR cans with incandescent lamps require dimmer packs to control them. They operate in the same way household dimmer switches function, allowing you to set the relative brightness of connected lights. Most small bands and DJs use satellite dimmer packs with several channels that are typically mounted to the T-Bar or truss holding the PAR cans. The cans are plugged into the dimmer and they’re connected to a DMX controller. Dimmer packs are available with various numbers of channels, and some include built-in programs or chases.
Some units offer both dimmer and switch capabilities. Switches only provide on/off functions, and should be be used on LED and non-DMX effects fixtures to avoid shortening their life.
Lighting and Effects Packages
On the Musician’s Friend website you’ll find affordable lighting and effects packages that range from economical multi-PAR can packs to full systems that include a complete set of stage lighting and effects fixtures plus a controller, stands, and cables—everything needed to light your show. Aside from the savings these packs offer, you can be sure each fixture is compatible and designed to maximize the overall visual impact of your performance.
Non-DMX lighting fixtures have their own on-board controllers. Many such fixtures are designed to react to sound picked up through an internal microphone. Sound-activated fixtures usually include settings allowing the unit to create effects when insufficient or no sound is present.
Selectable, built-in programs allow you to automate non-DMX fixture operation—an advantage for bands and DJs who handle their own lighting. Fixtures in this category with incandescent lamps are often manufactured to operate for a specified period of time before they must be turned off, which may make it necessary to use multiple fixtures to create a continuous show. Look for the duty-cycle specification to determine if a specific model makes sense for your needs. This is another advantage of LED fixtures—they have no duty-cycle limitations. Examples of common non-DMX lighting include beam effects, flower effects, and gobo projectors.
DMX Lighting Fixtures
Also called intelligent lighting, these fixtures can be controlled via DMX-51controllers or interfaces. A DMX controller allows you to program stage lighting and effects remotely, ideal when you want complete control of the look and timing of lighting effects. DMX fixtures offer more control attributes or “traits” than non-DMX fixtures.
DMX-51is the communication/cabling protocol that most entertainment lights and controllers use to communicate with each other. DMX acts like a post office. For control, you assign an address between and 51However, unlike your house, which only has one address, your fixture needs a number assigned to each of its channels. A 6-channel DMX fixture uses addresses, or channels on a controller. Each channel on the fixture handles a specific control attribute such as pan, tilt, color, etc.
Controllers run the gamut from simple non-DMX switchboxes and relay packs that allow you to power multiple lighting and sound channels to highly sophisticated DMX units that provide control over every aspect of multiple lighting systems composed of hundreds of DMX-compatible fixtures. Some simpler controllers have a dedicated purpose such as controlling specific effects such as strobes or fog machines. Some controller models allow foot control—a great feature for solo acts and small bands who control their lights in realtime during performance.
The basics of DMX controller operation are generally quite simple. Each slider on the controller corresponds to a channel on the fixture being controlled. DMX fixtures have specific values that correspond to their various control settings such as color, gobo, pan, tilt, strobe speed, etc. By moving a slider on the controller to a specific value, the fixture follows suit. The various control values of each button or slider used to create an overall effect can be saved into a “scene”, which triggers the specific action or state you set. The scene is then saved into a memory bank. Numerous scenes can be combined into an entire program, which, for example, can be synchronized with cues for a show. This is called a “chase.” Chases can be adjusted via a myriad of input functions, depending on the controller being used. Examples of control triggers include MIDI and clock/calendar events.
Software-Based DMX Control
As with software-based audio recording and performance functions, there is a revolution in progress involving a shift in lighting control from hardware-based controllers to PC software and mobile device apps. That said, also as with audio functions, there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.
Dedicated hardware lighting controllers with physical sliders, buttons, switches, and legible displays offer intuitive and tactile control and workflow without delving deeply into menus and mastering steep software learning curves. On the other hand, software-based lighting control offers enormous control potential with nearly unlimited creativity in designing elaborate lighting programs. Software may also be more affordable route.
The compact Chauvet Xpress 51Controller and USB Interface works with Windows or Mac computers and gives you powerful software-based control over an unlimited number of shows.
Many hardware lighting controllers come bundled with their own proprietary software and/or are compatible with other lighting software. Deciding which approach to lighting is right for your needs comes down to the complexity of your lighting and your willingness to master sophisticated lighting programming.
The Elation Show Designer 2CF DMX Controller offers 102channels of controls and has a huge fixture library for simplified effects programming.
DMX Controller Features and Specs
Here are some features and specs to look at when shopping for a DMX Controller:
Number of channels: Much like calculating the connections needed on an audio mixer, count the number of devices and each device’s number of channels in coming up with an adequate channel count. You’ll of course want to allow some additional capacity for future needs too.
Number of channels per fixture: Some fixtures have many control attributes or parameters. If you plan to include such fixtures in your lighting system, a controller that can handle up to 3channels per fixture will make sense. However, if your system will be largely comprised of simpler effect fixtures and PAR cans, a smaller, DJ-type controller is likely to be adequate.
Number of programmable scenes: As noted above, a scene is a set of control values or slider positions that can be saved for instant recall. Some controllers allow scenes to be saved on external memory devices while software-compatible controllers offer scene storage and editing on external computers or tablets.
Number of programmable shows: A complete sequence of chases and other settings that comprise a complete performance that can be saved and recalled.
Number of universes: Each DMX network is called a “universe” and has up to 51channels. Smaller controllers usually have a single OUT connector allowing control of a single universe. More complex lighting systems may be composed of several networks or universes thus requiring multiple controllers, or a single controller with multiple OUT connectors.
Fixture libraries: These collections of fixture profiles streamline the process of setting attributes and functions.
Tap/sync: This function allows the operator to sync lighting effects with the music by tapping in the tempo.
Joystick/trackball controls: These make tilt/pan and other positional functions easier to control.
Keyboard input: Allows connection of a computer keyboard for faster programming and naming of scenes, chases, and shows.
MIDI I/O and control: Allows control of the lighting system with a MIDI-enabled pedalboard, keyboard or other controller—a valuable feature for performers and DJs who control their lights in realtime. MIDI in and out connectors also facilitate programming on external computers and other MIDI-compatible devices.
USB Connectivity/Software-based DMX control: A USB connector plus MIDI implementation opens up a world of control possibilities using PC software and/or mobile apps to program and control your lighting.
Wireless operation: Some DMX controllers are compatible with wireless adapters so as to deal with situation where very long cable runs would otherwise be needed. Such systems have a wireless transmitter at the controller and receivers located near lighting fixtures. These systems convert DMX control messages to radio frequencies at the transmitter then convert the signal back to DMX signals at the receivers which are connected to the fixtures.
Each fixture produces output at a specific beam angle, which denotes the width of beam being produced. Assuming that you have two fixtures with the same wattage lamps, the fixture with the smaller beam angle will appear brighter. This is because the same amount of light is being focused into a smaller area. In addition, because a smaller beam angle creates a more focused and intense projection, the light can be placed further from the subject being illuminated. The larger (wider) the beam angle of a fixture, the larger the area that can be covered by the unit.
Fixtures should also be placed in proximity to the subject based on output. Lights that have a lower output need to be placed closer to the subject than a high-output fixture in order to be perceived as having the same brightness.
Having a combination of wash and spot fixtures illuminating an area will greatly enhance the look of any show. By using contrasting colors, the spots will pop out more, appearing brighter within the wash effect than if used alone.
Assigning Effects and Programming Shows
The key to good lighting design is to mix and match fixtures and tones to create a desired mood and effect. When programming, use color schemes that complement or contrast with one another, depending on the mood you want. Using a wash to create an ambient light in a color that will complement your spot, or effect, will make it appear brighter and richer. Clean, crisp complementary colors, along with fluid movement and symmetry produce an air of professionalism. Contrasting colors add high energy and drama to a venue. The best way to increase your design skills is by visiting different venues and shows to see what other designers have done. Note the elements that struck you as the best, and attempt to emulate and improve on them.
Connecting a Controller to Lighting Fixtures
A DMX signal begins at the controller and follows the path of the cable to the first fixture and then to each fixture in line down the cable run. The following diagram shows the proper method and order for connecting multiple fixtures to a single controller. The DMX line pictured here runs from the controller to the “DMX In” connection on the first fixture. From the “DMX Out” connection of the first fixture, a cord is connected to the “DMX In” connection of the next fixture in the line, and so on until all units have a cable connected to the “DMX In” connection. The last fixture in the line should have a DMX terminator installed to maintain the quality of the DMX signal.
Method for connecting DMX lighting fixtures to the controller
When setting up your lighting, you need hardware that will safely and securely position and hold your fixtures where you need them. Raising your lighting fixtures increases their coverage and keeps them safe from accidental contact and damage caused by vibrations. Musician’s Friend offers a broad selection of clamps, mounting brackets, and safety cables to accomplish this.
If you perform in a variety of venues, it’s likely you’ll run into challenges in setting up your lights. Having an assortment of lighting stands can help make setup simpler. Basic T-bar stands with tripod bases make a good all-around lighting support. A pair of such stands with an integrated truss affords more positioning options, support, and stability. Read specs carefully to make sure that the light stand or truss system you choose is rated for the weight of your fixtures.
The fixtures you select will determine the cables required to connect your system. In general, you will need one power cord per fixture, along with the appropriate extension cords (if needed). In addition, if you are connecting your fixtures via DMX cable, you will need one DMX cable per fixture. DMX cables use XLR connectors and come in 3- and 5-pin varieties. Check the user’s manual of your fixtures and controller to determine which type will be needed for your application. It’s a good practice to have extra cables on hand to deal with failures and venues requiring longer cable runs. That goes for extension cords, switchboxes, and AC power strips too.
Attribute » a controllable parameter on a fixture such as gobo selection, color, tilt, pan, etc.
Barrel scanner » This effect fixture, also called a rolling mirror scanner, has a moving mirror that rotates around a drum with a beam that can be panned across its axis
Beam angle » The width of a beam of light, often designated by the number of degrees; the greater the number the wider the beam. Sometimes designated with qualitative terms such as narrow, medium, and wide.
Chase » A sequence of lighting effects or on and off sequences. A simple example is the apparent movement of theatre marquee lights along a string, caused by the rapid sequential illumination of each fixture.
CMY » System of light color mixing using Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. This system entails the use of colored gels or filters to create a wide palette of colors. Also see RGB.
Color temperature » A measurement of how relatively blue (“cold”) or amber (“warm”) a given light is.
Color wheel » A circular metal disc containing colored glass filters and is motorized to rotate in front of a light source.
DMX51» The protocol used to control lighting systems and individual DMX-compatible effects.
Fixture » In lighting systems, any lamp or lighting effect is considered a fixture.
Focus » A qualitative statement of how relatively hard or soft a gobo’s projected image is. The hardness of a projected image is largely a function of the distance that the beam is projected; the greater the distance, the softer the image. Focus may also refer to the X/Y position of a moving light in relation to the performance space or stage.
Gel » Also called a color gel or color filter, it’s a transparent colored polyester or polycarbonate sheet used in stage lighting in front of a light beam to alter its color.
Gobo » A usually spherical glass or metal template containing patterns that are projected by light sources mounted behind or within the gobo.
Gobo wheel » A disc within a moving light fixture that has several gobos placed around its perimeter. A motor steps through each gobo pattern in sequence, or fixtures may be programmable to select custom sequences.
Joystick » A device that allows control of a moving light’s pan and tilt functions. See trackball.
Kelvin » The measurement of a lamp’s color temperature. Incandescent lamps typically range between 600-3200 Kelvin. Arc and discharge lamps range 6000 and 9000 Kelvin. The sun has a temperature of 577See color temperature.
Moving head fixture » A lighting fixture in which the entire optical system, including gobo wheels, lamps, prisms, etc. move with the emitted beam(s).
Moving mirror fixture » Often called scanners, these lighting fixtures employ a mirror to animate and project beams of light. They typically offer faster movement than moving head fixtures.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your String Lights wisely! Good luck!
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