Lighting my art just with solar?

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Lighting my art just with solar?

Postby brody » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:30 pm

I'm bringing out two park-style benches that are going to hang out under a gazebo on the open, hopefully inner playa. To light it at night, I'm thinking white, non-blinky light.

More specifically, solar rope light with reflective tape behind it on the top edges of the gazebo thing (it's 8'x8'), and then perhaps solar Malibu lights at the bottom of each gazebo post for further marking/illumination.

I'm vaguely concerned that the solar lights won't last all night, and I'll end up with an unlit art piece as a hazard to navigation in the wee hours.

Has anyone experience with using just solar to light up art or other stuff that you don't want people to run into? Any tips to get the most out of my solar, besides making sure the solar panels are as clear of dust as possible (in other words, riding by once or twice a day and wiping them off)?

If solar won't be enough, any other relatively inexpensive suggestions for me? Batteries seem awfully wasteful and a pain in the ass.

Thanks for your help. It's my first time bringing art to the playa that's MINE. Yay!
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Postby Bluemandrew » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:26 am

We had garden lights around a piece I had in our village, and I recall that they lasted all night. Maybe surround your installation with some of those in case the main lights die.

You'd be amazed at how long a 12v deep cycle battery will last you while running LEDs though. One (precharged ;-) ) big battery could last you the whole week without charging.

Unless you have some crazy lighting going on, and with a good enough battery for your needs, it shouldn't be an issue to go overnight. I do like the idea of auxiliary lighting in case playa happens and your shit breaks though...[/i]
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Postby StevenGoodman » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:24 pm

In 2008 I lit the Shrine to the Oven Mitt with a combination solar LED string lights and Malibu solar spots. Worked fine.

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Postby professorzed » Sat Jun 26, 2010 7:15 am

Hi Brody, I remember you from Tribe.

The trick to getting the most out of your solar powered batteries is to simply [b]upgrade the batteries[/b] that come with your solar light to better solar batteries.

The batteries in most solar powered lights (path lights, etc.) are only designed to last for 6 hours...because the manufacturer assumes that the lights don't have to work at 3AM (decent folks in the suburbs should be in bed). They figure it's better to conserve the solar battery energy spent between 3:00-6:00am as back-up power for those cloudy days.

However, the solar batteries that come in solar powered dock lights are designed to last all night and into the wee hours. The difference is the batteries.

So, just switch out the solar AA batteries that come in your store bought solar lights for some higher grade AA solar batteries, and they will last all night and into the wee hours of the morning.

Another suggestion I have for night time safety is using cheap, non-powered retro-reflective pinstripe tape (or just stickers) as an outline along the corners of your benches.

The tape won't work for 'darktards', but it will bounce back the lights from any flashlights or headlights (like a traffic sign or license plate does) from about 200 feet away. Never wears out, never runs out of batteries. $8 for a 40' roll.

You can get retro-reflective tape in pretty much any colour and/ or design, so it doesn't have to make your bench look like the side of a truck. The tape itself might even be invisible by day, or have a funky 'secret' night time design or pattern (flames, hearts, words, etc.)

I am also thinking of motion activated 'closet' lights, and using rechargeable batteries that you could recharge yourself in a hand-held solar charger as a back-up. These lights are about $10 each (in Canada), and light up for about 30 seconds whenever someone gets within six feet of them. They switch off after that, so they are pretty conservative of battery power. They have about a 60 degree radius, so it's pretty hard to 'sneak up' on them.

Six feet is not enough distance for the art cars, but their purpose would be mainly for the darkwads that would otherwise bark their shins on your bench, having no flashlights to bounce back the light of the retro-reflective tape. Art cars have headlights, and will see the retro-reflective tape on your bench clearly from 200 feet away. That is, if your solar lights completely fail for whatever reason.

These motion activated lights also makes your bench 'interactive' in a weird, minimalist way.
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Postby brody » Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:06 pm

Thanks for the hint about replacing the batteries! I'll do just that, once I figure out where to get higher-quality ones! (I bet Google can help me!)
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Postby Token » Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:20 pm

Just note that solar lights use old type NiCd batteries. The rest of the world has moved to newer types, NiMh & LiOn. These newer batteries are NOT compatible with the charging circuits in the older NiCd devices.

Sometimes they work OK, sometimes they explode and catch fire.

Might not be a bad thing for a Bm installation come to think of it ...
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Postby brody » Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:25 pm

Token wrote:Sometimes they work OK, sometimes they explode and catch fire.

Might not be a bad thing for a Bm installation come to think of it ...

Well, considering my art is wooden and NOT going to be burned, that might be an issue.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:12 pm

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