You may have notice your local Wal-Mart store selling those small outdoor LED solar lamps for about $3.00 a piece. You can’t beat that price since the rechargeable battery, LED and solar cells included in the lamp probably cost more than its price tag. We bought several of these lamps and so far we’ve been pleased.

If you don’t know how these lamps work, here’s a short description. The lamp charges a rechargeable battery connected to a solar cell located on top of the unit. As night falls, the lamps are automatically turned on by a photocell. When morning arrives, the lamps automatically turn off.

Don’t expect a whole lot of light since the lamp only contains a single white LED and one rechargeable nickel-cadmium AA battery.  Although noticeable from across the street, the lamps are useful for marking a walkway or just adding light to your yard or garden. Because the lamp contains one LED, the lamp may not provide enough light to light up the ground.

The rechargeable battery will last for a few days in cloudy weather. If the lamp is located in a constantly shady area, the battery may weaken and turn the light off in the middle of the night. This also brings me to the point on how well the solar cell recharges the battery. After popping out the 1.2 volt rechargeable battery and attaching a multi-meter to the lamp, I discovered that the solar cell puts out between 1.6 – 1.8 volts to the battery when it is in the shade. After moving the lamp into full sun, I found that the solar cell outputs a maximum of 2.2 volts to the battery, enough to recharge the battery if the lamp constantly receives full sunlight. During cloudy weather, the solar cell will charge the battery enough to last a few days if conditions persist.

The nickel-cadmium batteries can be replaced with nickel metal hydride batteries, which will give you better performance and will last longer from constant recharges.

In conclusion, you get a good deal with these outside solar lamps. The lamps will provide you basic all night lighting when installed in locations with continuous full sun lighting and a good quality nickel metal hydride battery.