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Solar Deck Lights

Discussion in 'Projects, Builds, Woodworking, Metalworks' started by gringott, Apr 21, 2017.



  1. gringott

    gringott Killed then Resurrected Midas Member Site Supporter

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    After my new deck was completed, I put some ebay solar post lights on. They were fine at first, but quickly deteriorated after that time, about a year. They were white plastic that turned a dirty yellow color, unlike my posts, plain post caps and rails, which remain white. The clear lenses clouded. They went from attractive to cheap and nasty looking. Then they started failing. Replacing the rechargeable batteries helped some, but the battery compartment contacts were also failing. Taking them apart revealed the thinnest wires known to man, poor materials and soldering. Considering the work involved to refurbish them, it hardly seemed worth the effort. I was certain the experiment was over with self-contained outdoor solar. I went this way because I didn't want to run wires for low voltage lighting. Bottom line, if you are considering going the way I first did, forget it. The cheap ebay lights are garbage and will at best last you a year or two.

    I found these lights at Lowe's. They are quite expensive. The lenses are made of actual glass, the framework for the glass is metal. They are very sturdy and fit over my vinyl post covers. Light output is fantastic based on my past experience. The base is adaptable for other size posts by removing or adding spacers - versabase "Fits the following post sizes: 3-1/2-in x 3-1/2- in, 4-in x 4-in, 4-1/4-in x 4-1/4-in and 4-1/2-in x 4-1/2-in". I initially purchased one to try it due to price. After a week I was impressed and picked up another one, etc. Fast forward a year. They still look like brand new, I just give them a wipe now and then. They last until dawn, even in the winter! One was knocked off the post at Thanksgiving, fell around 7 feet to a lower deck, an internal part came loose but I repaired it with hot glue and it looks just like new. Zero external damage! I haven't fastened them down, a spot of silicon caulking will hold them in place, once I am sure where I want them. Can I just say I am impressed with everything about them - except price. I am a cheap bastage, so $25 a pop is a bit much - however, I was unable to find another cheaper light that worked this well. Here is a picture of the light and a link to Lowe's product page.

    https://www.lowes.com/pd/Dekorators...n-White-Solar-LED-Metal-Deck-Post-Cap/3184405
    [​IMG]
    Now I was ready to use some more, I have more posts that need solar! However, I balked at paying $25 a pop. I decided to see if I could get some cheaper. The company changed it's name to Dekorators, a quick websearch gave me the company website. Here it is:
    http://www.deckorators.com/en.aspx
    The company makes several models of post lights, both low voltage and solar. Also they have many other types of deck lighting, including under rail lighting, scones, spotlights etc.
    At the lower right of the first [home] page, they have a link to "Discounted & Clearance Products". Click on "Shop Now" and that link will take you to the page for "Discount Building Products". Then click on "Decking & Accessories" followed by "Post Caps & Solar Lighting".

    Here I found three products that I purchased for my "expansion" solar lighting needs. Note the product I currently have is not on the discount list. However, I found these which suit my purpose and were too cheap to pass up. I intend to paint the copper tops white to match my other lights. They were $6.67 each, and marked 4 x 4, but stated they are perfect for vinyl or aluminum posts. You can select base vinyl color, black or white, the tops are only copper. They look very much like my current lights, except they are square rather than angled lights. I ordered two, they fit over my vinyl posts a bit loose, unlike my "versabase" current lights. I intend to spot glue these to the posts using silicon between base and post, as recommended. So far so good, these also have metal frames around the glass and actual glass lenses. I could use them with the copper tops as they
    will be on a fence around the lowest level - a paving brick patio, however I have decided to paint them white to match everything else.[​IMG]
    Next I had some posts that I wanted to provide a light, but something as bright as the current lights was not needed, main function just a post marker light on railings. I found these lights which I like very much, however it seems the bases may not fit, and are cedar wood, which while matching my deck boards I did not want. I ordered them anyway, first because they were so cheap and I liked them a lot. I was sure I could modify them. Here's a picture.

    [​IMG]
    This one is available in cedar or pressure treated base. This one also is sized 4 x 4, but no mention of vinyl or aluminum posts. I suspected these are for actual 4 x 4 posts, and I was right. The glass is real glass, soldered. They recommend using car wax every 6 months on the solder to prevent oxidation. The one thing I don't like is the actual solar panel alone is removed to place batteries, which may be an entry point for moisture. I intend to apply a light bead of clear sealant around the edges to prevent this. The cost each was $6.67, amazing, so I ordered four. Once they arrived I investigated the construction, it seems the wood base was attached to a plastic under panel by four staples, two on opposing sides. No glue was used on this part. I was able to use a very small screwdriver blade followed by pliers to remove the wood bases. Very easy. I have white post caps I had previous purchased at Home Depot for about a buck. I was able to pry the base free from the cap, again here, no glue was used so it was easy. The "surround" fits perfectly on the under panel of the light, a bead of hot glue later I had my modified Tiffany light. They produce a nice glow and I like them very much. What a bargain!

    Here's a picture of my modified light process.
    First the two parts of the HD cap separated, no damage.

    [​IMG]

    The removed cedar base, some damage but this is destined for the fire. This cedar is quite dry and soft.
    [​IMG]

    Here is the unmodified light placed on top of the post. Does not fit the vinyl cover.
    [​IMG]

    Test fit with the modified base. The HD bases fit tight enough to go without gluing.
    [​IMG]

    Finally, I needed some lights for dark areas of the deck. They had these two packs of Post and Stair lighting, color selections are white and black. I wanted white, 4", and was able to purchase three two packs of these lights for $9.33 each. Not a huge bargain, but I am impressed with this company's products and decided to give them a whirl. Here's a picture:
    [​IMG]
    They come with a mounting plate that you screw [or glue I guess] to where you want them. The light then slides down on the bracket. They have great output, however keep in mind they protrude 3" from the mounting point and are actually about 3.5" wide. This color in 4" is no longer available at the site, but black is, and the 6" white is also in stock, however it is $12.22. So far so good. If I have any problems I will report back. This is all plastic construction, except for the mounting brackets which are painted metal.

    Shipping was $12.99 for the complete order, and it was delivered six days after ordering by UPS. I am very happy with this purchase.

    I noted also they had this very attractive 4 x 4 pine wood solar post light on sale for $13.33, however worries about adapting the base and a wood finish clashing with what I have stopped me from ordering. However, I think it is a very attractive light for the money.

    [​IMG]

    If you are interested in low voltage and solar lights for your deck needs, give this discount site a look. So far I have been very impressed with the quality of workmanship and materials, and now that I found them at a discount, the price!

    Note: I have zero connection with this company other than purchasing the products as a consumer. I paid the web prices and have never contacted the company other than to place a web order.
     
  2. nickndfl

    nickndfl Midas Member Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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    I use solar lights on my mailbox, but idiots still hit it at night and the postman delivers to the wrong address anyway. We need to use vinyl or aluminum in Florida because the salt air and sunshine eat any base metal product left outside. There is a 100% chance it will oxidize.
     
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  3. gringott

    gringott Killed then Resurrected Midas Member Site Supporter

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    I get mail for other addresses and they get mine. The phrase "good enough for government work" comes to mind. Nobody hits the mailbox except the birds on bombing runs. The day after I purchased my house I leaned on the mailbox and the post snapped off, 4x4. Quite embarrasing as I was talking to the guy across the street who had just purchased his house at the same time. At that point I purchased a vinyl post/mailbox that mounted to a steel stake in the ground. That was 21 years ago this month, still going strong.
     
  4. mayhem

    mayhem Другая перспектива Silver Miner Site Supporter

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    Gee and I thought I was the only one. Got reflectors on my mailbox post. I finally went with cedar and no concrete. The ants just love the 4x4 PT posts when sitting in concrete.
    Don't know about you, but we have a rain swale and a culvert for the driveway. In the last 20 years I have pulled more than one person out of the swale because they missed the 14' driveway. The last one was a FedX truck about a month ago.
     
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  5. Bottom Feeder

    Bottom Feeder Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Gold Chaser Site Supporter

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    thanks, mayhem, I'm orderin some.

    BF
     

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