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They might’ve been commercially available for a few decades now, but don’t underestimate the humble solar light. These handy little lamps might not be as cool as Amazon Echo and Alexa 7 Creative Uses for Amazon Echo and Alexa 7 Creative Uses for Amazon Echo and Alexa You’ve seen the ads starring Alec Baldwin, but you're still not sure what Amazon Echo does or whether you need one in your home. We’re about to find out. Read More , or as smart as a Nest thermostat 13 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a Nest Thermostat 13 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a Nest Thermostat You may be surprised just how many little tricks you can accomplish with your new Nest thermostat! Read More , but they’re just as useful as those snazzy gadgets.

You don’t need fancy panels to take advantage of solar energy 6 Advantages of Solar Panels You Probably Haven't Considered 6 Advantages of Solar Panels You Probably Haven't Considered Solar power is becoming increasingly common among middle class consumers, with more and more people realizing the advantages of solar panels. Read More : small solar lanterns with tiny solar panels attached are essential for any household. Here’s why.

They’re Cheaper

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Electricity is one of the biggest regular expenses for households, rivalled only by gas. And charges only ever go one way – up. In 2014, the average monthly electric bill for American residences was just over $114 (up from $110 in 2013), while anyone living in Hawaii generally spends nearly $190 a month. That’s an insane amount.

Most think of solar lamps as exclusive to outdoors: they’re there to line gardens and look pretty. But indoor solar lights are plentiful as well – and extremely useful. Awesome gadgets are available 12 Awesome Solar Powered Gadgets That Every Home Should Be Using 12 Awesome Solar Powered Gadgets That Every Home Should Be Using Solar power provides cleaner, more sustainable electricity, but few people can afford solar panels, and few power providers invest in solar power generation. It's time to take solar power into your own hands. Read More ; even if you opt for just a simple lamp, it might shave a few dollars off your bills 5 Smart Hacks To Save Electricity In Your Smart Home 5 Smart Hacks To Save Electricity In Your Smart Home he trick to saving electricity is in knowing where most of your energy is consumed. Read More  every month.

They’re Eco-Friendly

Cost-effective lighting is, by extension, also good for the environment. As a Muppet once said, it’s not easy being green, and yet solar lights are an eco-friendly solution to fighting that hole in the o-zone layer 10 Environmental Games That Teach Kids About Earth, Ecology & Conservation 10 Environmental Games That Teach Kids About Earth, Ecology & Conservation Read More .

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You won’t be eating up the state’s utility grid 7 Nest Automation Tricks to Cut Your Heating Bill in Half 7 Nest Automation Tricks to Cut Your Heating Bill in Half If there were a Nest thermostat in every home, it would have the biggest single impact on energy consumption in history; and it could save you more money than you might imagine. Here's how. Read More , for one.  Additionally, solar-powered units only come on when their surroundings are gloomy enough for it.

The idea is also being rolled out to street lighting, currently in Kabul, Copenhagen, and the Philippines.

Light Up Areas Prone to Thieves

Solar technology is constantly adapting to your needs, and so they’re no longer just available as lanterns to edge your plant pots. They’re now available as security lights too, including small wireless units, or floodlights.

These come in handy if you’ve got a large garden, want to protect expensive equipment Beat The Thieves - Keep Your Tech Secure At Home Beat The Thieves - Keep Your Tech Secure At Home You don't have to live in fear. The key to keeping your gadgets secure is simple, ordinary, camouflage. Read More in a shed or garage, or if you simply want to be alerted when someone comes through your gates. Members of your household coming home late at night will also appreciate their path being lit up.

Motion sensors mean the solar energy won’t be used up all night either.

They’re Safer During Blackouts

If your hometown is frequently battered by severe storms 8 Top Hurricane Tracking Websites on the Web 8 Top Hurricane Tracking Websites on the Web Hurricane tracking websites are especially important during the hurricane season. For individuals, it could serve as a caution when planning vacations or packing up with essential supplies. For example, the vacation hotspot of The Bahamas... Read More , you’ll also be familiar with blackouts How Residential Solar Power Kits Can Keep You Online During Outages How Residential Solar Power Kits Can Keep You Online During Outages While fossil-fuel powered generators are well understood, the same isn't true for residential solar power kits. There are thousands of products on offer, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Which ones are right for... Read More . This is a horrible scenario, especially when you’re left in darkness for days on end.

In July 2012, India suffered from the largest power outage in history, with an estimated 700 million residents without electricity; in January last year, around 80% of Pakistan – that’s some 140 million people – was cast into darkness following an explosion damaging a transmission line; and just a few months ago, more than 161,000 citizens in Washington city were left without power for nearly a week after an ice storm.

Candles and oil lamps are great at such times, but they do pose a risk to safety and need to be monitored. Both can be serious fire hazards. Solar lights, on the other hand, are just as portable but are a much safer option in desperate times Top 10 Activities To Do When There's A Power Outage Top 10 Activities To Do When There's A Power Outage Read More .

Light Up Dangerous Walkways

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We’ve all slipped off a pathway and hurt ourselves, whether that’s a simple (but nonetheless painful) sprained ankle or a more serious injury. It’s not life-threatening, but if you can reduce that worry, there’s no reason not to.

All you need to do is strategically place some solar lights on any potentially treacherous walkways or patios on your premises. Maybe the edge is a sudden drop, the path slopes, slabs are uneven, or they’re liable to become slippery when wet. Solar lamps are an efficient way of making the outdoors safer for you and your family.

Highlight Pools and Ponds

Using the same technique of placing solar lamps around further hazardous areas – or even using floating ones – you can draw attention to any swimming pools or ponds you might have on your premises.

Accidentally falling into one of these can prove extremely dangerous, especially in cold weather, or if you knock yourself out in the process. Slipping into a pond in the middle of winter, for instance, can bring on illness, but hitting your head on the side as you fall could prove fatal. In the United States alone, from 2005 to 2009, an average of 3,533 people died from unintentional drownings: that’s about ten deaths a day, and children are particularly at risk.

Additionally, lights for a pool can be costly; solar lights can be a great way of providing this feature without spending a fortune.

Eliminate the Need for Electrical Wires

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We’ve established how useful lights are outdoors, but they generally need power cables when located there. These can obviously be a trip-hazard, could be chewed through by an animal, or especially if outside, are a concern in wet weather. You have no such worries about solar lights.

Standard silicon wafers, used for photovoltaics (PV) in order to convert energy from insolation to electricity, can’t withstand extreme weather Winter Is Coming: Using A Smartphone Or Tablet In Extreme Weather Conditions Winter Is Coming: Using A Smartphone Or Tablet In Extreme Weather Conditions From time to time I have to venture outside and this can mean using my phone, tablet or even (in rare cases) a laptop to get work done while in transit. Extremes of weather can... Read More by themselves, but they’re sealed behind plastic, so you’re safe in the knowledge that even if water does get in, the worst that’ll happen is that the light will stop working.

You can give them added protection by putting them behind glass or some other housing to protect them from bad weather conditions.

Help Identify your Home

Ever been in a cab and struggled to describe exactly which house is yours? You might’ve considered taking some extreme action and painting your gates, so you can simply say, “it’s the one with the blue gates.”

But if you generally only use cabs after a night out on the town, try placing an interesting pattern of solar lamps near the entrance to your home, or a particularly striking lantern near your mailbox. If you’re trying to direct someone who has never been to your house before, this is ideal.

Use as a Burglar Deterrent

Concern about leaving your house empty for a while can taint a holiday Disconnect This Holiday With 10 Inspiring Microadventures Disconnect This Holiday With 10 Inspiring Microadventures These are adventures that we can enjoy over a week, a weekend, or even just a few hours. Here are ten microadventure videos to inspire a few steps outside the comfort zone, Read More . You could use a timer to program your lights to come on every night, but a patient thief might not be fooled; they can recognize the pattern of house lights sparking into life at exactly the same time every evening. Have you seen Home Alone? Yeah, exactly like that.

Using solar lights indoors, however, is a smart way of ensuring windows are lit up only when it does actually go dark, not at a set time.

You’ll need a particularly strong lamp for this to be completely effective (and you might supplement it with other smart inventions 14 Effective Home & Self Defense Gadgets For Women Living Alone 14 Effective Home & Self Defense Gadgets For Women Living Alone Statistics show men are more at risk, but women are typically disadvantaged by the size and strength of intruders. Here are gadgets which can help women who live alone tip the odds in their favor. Read More such as a FakeTV device), but putting them near your windows or even a door with frosted glass should be sufficient.

Light Up Keyholes

Solar lights come in all shapes and sizes, and one of the coolest ideas is a smaller unit designed specifically to aid you in your hour of need: desperately trying to find that keyhole.

You can aimlessly thrust your key somewhere in the general direction of where the slot should be, but frustration swiftly takes over and before long, you’re leaving ugly marks scratched into the front door.

Tiny solar lights, mounted to just above the keyhole, can save you the trouble every time you’re home late – and they’re pretty cheap too!

More Bright Ideas?

Do you light up the night with renewable energy 8 Unbelievable New Ways of Generating Electricity 8 Unbelievable New Ways of Generating Electricity Alternative energy is one the rise, but you may not know about all the options. Here are some of the craziest new ways of generating power. Read More ? What made you choose solar lamps? I’m sure we’ve missed loads of benefits, so what other ideas do you have for utilizing solar lights?

Image Credits: Solar Garden Light by Grisha Bruev via Shutterstock, Dark Path by Laurence Simon; and Electrical wire by Beatrice Murch.

  1. fcd76218
    April 30, 2016 at 12:24 am

    "They’re Eco-Friendly"
    Are they? Once they are installed, they are eco-friendly. But how eco-friendly is the process of making these lights? How much energy is used? What toxic chemicals are used during the process? How much and what kind of pollution does the process generate? Do these lights contain any hazardous materials that require special disposal methods? What is the REAL environmental cost of solar lights when all factors are considered?

  2. Andrew
    April 29, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    These things have really come into their own in the last couple of years. Someone finally realized that batteries are going to need to be swapped out when it charges and discharges EVERY DAY. 8-)

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