RV and Technology - Solar Lights for Campsites
Solar Light technology works for campsites
Technology is a great thing and all RV owners should take advantage and use it everywhere they can when traveling or camping.
Let’s start with Campsites and the need for adequate lighting at night.
Of course, many campgrounds are laid out with wide streets and street lights as good as you find in many cities. But they are not the norm.
And, I have found, at times, that when I am staying at one of these campgrounds, I really don’t need to supplement the lighting at my site at all.
On the other hand, I have been in an older campground with lots of shade trees and fewer street lights where I still needed a little supplemental lighting in places at my campsite.
And almost always, when I stay, in a State Park campsite, or if I am “rough camping” in the woods, I need ways to light up parts of my site for safety.
Solar Powered Lights are great for Campsites
Campsite Safety and good Lighting
So, why the need for additional campsite lighting?
I may be stating the obvious but here goes.
Your campsite is inherently not safe for people to be walking around at night.
Sure, you laid things out when you got there, but over time, in fact within hours, you and your family or friends start moving around and each one has their own opinion of where some of your campsite accessories should be.
Great set of Solar Lights
Here are a few of the things people tend to move around a lot in a campsite;
When a person is sitting around a campsite, the presence of a small side table to set your drink or snack on is so convenient. In fact, probably the most “stolen” item in a campsite is an unused side table when one user gets up and another site down.
Every RV owner eventually ends up with a collection of fold-up chairs that they keep in their RV storage areas for use at their campsite. Throughout the day, chairs tend to move with the angle of the Sun as well as access to other conveniences setting around the campsite.
Most campers will fill up a nice sized cooler with their favorite beverages and setting it outside the camper if for no other reason than to keep people outside and not constantly coming inside to get another drink. So, naturally, that cooler will migrate around your campsite.
Yes, Shoes. People will be changing shoes through out the day as they do different things. You might wear a pair of flip-flops to walk around the campsite, and you might wear a pair of Tennis shoes for your daily walk and you might were a pair of water shoes for walking on the beach and you might change to a pair of hiking boots to take advantage of popular hiking trails that are nearby.
And where do they end up? Why, usually, they are tossed around the campsite when not being worn
These are just a few of the more common obstacles at a campsite, but you might be surprised at the things a camper will hurt themselves tripping over in a dark campsite.
My recommendation is to ever assume you know where anything outside might be at any moment.
What is a Lumen
A lumen is a measure of the amount of brightness of a lightbulb.
Lumen Lookup Chart for Light Bulbs
Old wattage equivalent
100 Watt Light Bulb
75 Watt Light Bulb
60 Watt Light Bulb
40 Watt Light Bulb
How much Light do you need at your campsite?
We all want our campsite to be a safe place for ourselves and anyone else with us.
OK, first of all, let me explain that no one wants to be relaxing in a campsite that is full of glaringly bright lights. In fact, a normal campsite just needs a low level of ambient light, just bright enough that you can see everything within 15-20 feet of you wherever you might be standing in your campsite. Anything more than this is really overkill.
You don’t need to light up your end of the world, you just need a little extra light to push the night darkness away allowing you to move around safely.
So, how do you light up your campsite enough and at a low price at the same time.
Campsite Lighting Options to consider
Well, there are a lot of ways to get some extra light outside your RV, and here are a few of the most popular;
Considering that many campgrounds provide AC-voltage at the campsites, some people just bring a string of “drop lights” and hang them on tree limbs or whatever is available at the campsite.
Or maybe you bought a string of decorative lights that also operate on 120-VAC. They are cute and they give good light for campsites.
Watch out though, because both of these options will require the use of extension cords and these cords are nearly impossible to see at night and end up causing a lot of people to trip and fall.
Many campers will have one or two lanterns that either operate on gas, or rechargeable batteries, or sometimes on 120-VAC. These are also good sources of light, but they cast a lot of shadows that can hide things you might trip over.
This option is by far my favorite for my campsites. You can pick one of these lights up for a couple of bucks at many different stores, especially any store that sells camping gear.
Outdoor Solar Light facts you should know
OK, so here are some of the things you should know about the most commonly used Solar powered lights.
Physically- This type of Solar light comes in two pieces. one is the pointed end that you drive into the ground at your campsite, while the actual light slides onto this stake in the ground.
No power cords required. These lights have a built-in battery that the solar collector part (on the top) can fully charge it during one normal day of daylight, typically at least 10-12 hours.
Low Level Light - These lights will provide a low level of light in a 360-degree perimeter to the package for typically around eight hours. Some state they operate all night, but the are more expensive.
Locating Lights - The great thing is, you can have multiples of this light source and place them where they provide the safest lighted areas of your campsite.
Price - I have found that, as far as Solar lights go, yo get what you pay for.
In fact, a couple of week ago, I picked up 4 lights for $0.92 each at Wally-World and when I set them up at my campsite, two work properly while one of the others barely lights at all and the fourth never worked.
A week later, I picked up two more at another store for almost $3 each, and both of these operate very nicely.
Lumens, that's what is missing
The most frustrating then tome about purchasing Solar powered lights, as well as many LED replacement lights, is figuring out just how much light is being generated by the unit.
To me, over the years, I have used these lower cost Solar lights at a lot of campsites, and for the money, I highly recommend them. They do not need an external power source, and they do the simple job I require at my campsite; cheap ambient light.
But, there’s no law that requires the manufacturers (mostly foreign) of these simple lights to list the actual level of Lumens generated. So you end up spending your money and hoping you get what you need, a reliable source of low light for use outdoors.
In my opinion, if we had some idea of the radiated light we would all be willing to purchase better, higher quality versions of this much needed product, but for now, I just buy cheap and return the bad ones to the store.
So, even though I think these solar lights are the best for campsite safety, I still suggest that when you purchase them, keep your receipts.
Outdoor Solar Light Tips
If you end up, like me, using Solar lights at your campsite, here are a few tips for you.
If you cannot get that plastic “stake” end into the ground (too hard), take a soda bottle or empty jar, fill it half-way with water, and place the plastic shaft of the light into the bottle. The light will charge and operate fine even if it’s tilted at a slight angle.
In fact, if you put a teaspoon of Dawn dish-washing detergent into the water, you will then have a safe and cheap bug killer. The light, like all lights will draw those night-time flying pests, and they will land on the surface, stick to it and not be able to fly away.
Storing the lights
Many of these lights will come apart if you just throw them into a bag for use at your next campsite. Take a piece of tape and wrap over the top of the light and down the sides of the body. This will hold the whole assembly together as you drive down the roads.
by Don Bobbitt, June 2016
How to change Solar Light batteries
QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? Let me know!
Use the Comments section below to ask any questions you might have pertaining to Campsite Lighting and solar Lights.
© 2016 Don Bobbitt
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