What are the best options when buying solar string lights? Amazon, eBay, or Alibaba? For my art, I’m interested in the following options for my copper LED string lights:
Number of lights: The usual options are 100, 120, 150, and 200 lights. With the same amount of power, the more lights you have means the dimmer each light will be. In “Making the art”, I explain how to add an extension.
Solar panel power: I’ve seen 2V solar panels and 5.5V solar panels. Better to have fewer but more powerful panels connected to the art. If you open up the solar panel, you’ll see a rechargeable battery that can usually be replaced, though one seller has the wires soldered directly to the battery.
Solar panel connection: The makers all like to include a stake to put in the ground, which I throw away. I’m interested in solar panels for the wall or window frame of my house. So far, all of the larger 5.5V solar panels I have seen include 3 holes in their connection piece so you can screw it into a window frame. None of smaller 2V panels include holes, only a connection to a stake.
None include a flat panel to glue the panel to the side of the home or to glue a magnet to it for attaching to metal, but with the holes, any flat piece of wood will do.
Lead line: distance between the solar panel and the first lights. For inside the house, you’ll probably want a lead line between 2-4 meters. The makers all wrap the lead line in black or white plastic tube. It would be less visible and easier to close a window over raw copper wire. In any case, even with the plastic tube, you can still close a window hard over the line or even cut the tube off at that moment. The exposed wire is enameled and will not lose any current.
Light spacing: distance between two lights. Wrapping the string lights around the wire takes as much time as building the wire frame. If wrapping around wire, 5 cm is much better than the usual 10 cm — it takes a lot less time to wrap.
Flashing/colors: I’m not interested in multiple modes (flashing lights) or colors, only warm white.
Options at Amazon: There are many vendors selling solar LED string lights on Amazon. I think some are the Chinese manufacturers and some are third party vendors. Of the ones I have bought, I haven’t seen any difference in quality. In fact, it’s quite possible that most come from the same manufacturer, so I would ignore the stars in the reviews.
I want 5.5V solar panels and 5mm light spacing , but almost all sell 2V solar panels with 10mm light spacing. Many of the sellers in Amazon don’t give full specs of their products, or give contradicting specs.
As of 8/2017, the only seller I found on amazon.com who confirms a 5.5V solar panel is: Anteco 150 LED
The only seller I found on amazon.com who sells lights with 5cm spacing instead of 10cm is: Icicle 120 LED.
I then bought samples from a Chinese company through alibaba.com. They had 5.5V solar panels and 5mm light spacing. Is anybody else looking for these options or has found sellers? Please let me know. The Chinese company also has a 3-wire option instead of 2 wires. Is the 3rd wire a ground? I don’t know yet.
Ali Express had better deals than Amazon, but you have to search because the prices (and shipping prices) vary wildly. The standard 100 LED solar string lights cost me about 5€ compared to 8€ at Amazon: Ali Express
Checking out on eBay, I only saw a few options. Not worth it.