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  • Topic: Anyone using the Solar LED Path Lights in buildings?

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    • June 22, 2014 11:45 AM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      Walmart has cheap solar powered single LED path lights for $1.

      I don't know how they can sell them so cheap; I can't buy just the 2/3 AAD NiCad battery that is inside for that little.

      I took one apart thinking about using them to illuminate buildings. They are very simple. All the working parts are in the top piece; Solar Cell, small circuit board, battery and an LED.

      It would be a simple matter to extend the LED and leave the rest of the assembly external to the building, but it's kind of large. I'd rather extend the Solar Cell and leave the rest inside the building.  That probably isn't possible since the cell is firmly glued in place.

      I don't see any options that will not add cost. Either a new solar cell to mount remotely, or a 2/3 AA battery holder to alloy major surgery to the existing cell mount.

      Worst case, could probably bash two into one usable with left over parts.

      Has anyone done this?

      This post was edited by Jon Radder at June 22, 2014 11:52 AM EDT
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    • June 22, 2014 5:28 PM EDT
      • Out West Far Away from Rooster,
         
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      John, we have light all of our buildings with solar.  We took the square version of the small lights like the one you have a photo of and placed them throughout the packing plant as "roof AC units" to provide additional lighting.

       

       

      The main warehouse is lit and there are exterior lights around the perimeter also, but those use a stand-alone solar cell from Big Lots...matter of fact I think all the solar is from Big Lots

       

      Perhaps someday I will go back through the non-industrial buildings and replace the "white" LED's with warm.

       

      John

      This post was edited by John Miller at June 22, 2014 5:32 PM EDT
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    • June 22, 2014 6:01 PM EDT
      • Bremerton, Washington
         
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      Harry Holden did that and they worked OK.    He cut the solar cell into the roof of the building, remember it takes a nice sunny day to get the batteries charged. 

       

      Paul

    • June 22, 2014 6:13 PM EDT
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Upgrading the batteries can double the life of your lights....

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      John

       

      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.

       

       

    • June 22, 2014 8:36 PM EDT
      • Adelaide, South Australia
         
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      $2.50 solar light from Kmart in the roof of the Bates mansion


      This post was edited by Phil Creer at June 22, 2014 8:36 PM EDT
    • June 23, 2014 7:56 AM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      Thanks guys. A lot of good ideas there!

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    • June 23, 2014 9:49 AM EDT
      • Spokane Valley, Washington St.
         
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      Let's see a night pic, please.
    • June 23, 2014 11:39 AM EDT

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      Yep, I am. I found similar lights at the Dollar Store back in April. Mine have a 200mAh NiCad AAA battery that seems to power these suckers all night long without issue. (Thanks to my cat wanting to be fed at 5:00 in the morning, I get to see the railroad often in the wee hours of the morning.)

       

      I'm using warm white Christmas light LEDs in my buildings, and in the building that's being powered specifically by one of these at the moment, I've got three LEDs installed in the building. In that installation, I've got the panel and everything stuck to the top of an 18" long stick (trimmed tree branch) stuck into the ground in a nearby oregano patch. Wires soldered where the LED was connected run to the building.

       

      I'm also using them as general and accent lighting on the railroad. For general (very low-level) illumination, I've mounted these to the fence posts along the back edge of the railroad.

       

       

      To accent the buildings, I'm not a fan of the obtrusiveness of the whole landscape light assembly, so I've taken to hiding the lights in my trees and shrubs. I use rebar tie wire to attach the lights to the branches.

       

       

      I found Krylon's Camouflage green paint to be great for blending these lights into the surroundings. (I haven't painted this one yet.) I bend the LED on these so they point out the side at around 45 degrees rather than directly down. That gets more light on the adjacent buildings as opposed to the ground beneath the plant. In some cases, the light is so well hidden that you don't know where the light is coming from at night.

       

      While playing with these, I stumbled on another cool solar-powered LED light. This one is a 3-LED spotlight. The neat thing with this (beyond being very bright) is that the solar collector is easily removable from the light.

       

       

      The "full" light is on the right. It's casting an overall "bright moonlight" on one of my towns. I removed the panel from another one, and it's powering the lights in the buildings in that town. I think there are 6 LEDs total in that circuit between the two lit buildings. I got this one at Big Lots for $6. Their stock changes frequently, so it's anyone's guess as to whether you'll find one in a store near you. I've seen similar lights (at three times the price) at Ace, Home Depot, etc. I haven't checked Wally World.

       

      Later,

       

      K

      This post was edited by Kevin Strong at June 23, 2014 2:05 PM EDT
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    • June 28, 2014 10:13 AM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      Was in Walmart yesterday - They had a ton of these for $0.97 each and some fancier ones for about $9 for a 7 pack.

      I didn't buy any as I was on my way to get the car out of the shop and pay a $2K repair bill.

       I'm thinking I need about 6 LEDs in the engine house to get a nice dull glow. I'll probably build some type of outbuilding to put the electronics on and run the wires into the house. Only trouble is that 6 pair is a lot of wire.

      I wonder if a common return would work. That would reduce it to 5 wires.

      This post was edited by Jon Radder at June 28, 2014 12:17 PM EDT
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    • June 28, 2014 12:34 PM EDT
      • Out West Far Away from Rooster,
         
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      i bought some mini rock spot lights that actually had warm leds this week.

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      "The Rooster is to be feared"

    • June 28, 2014 7:02 PM EDT

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      Jon,

      You can just wire everything in parallel. Wire the 6 collectors in parallel, run two wires out from the array to the engine house, then run all 6 of the LEDs off those two wires in parallel.

      I had the same thoughts when I started lighting my towns as you did; not looking forward to running 4 pairs of wires down. So I experimented and found hooking everything together and running just two wires from point A to point B works just as well.

      Later,

      K

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    • June 29, 2014 12:39 PM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      Thanks Kevin. That sure will make it easier.

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    • May 17, 2018 9:27 AM EDT
      • Post Falls, Idaho
         
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      Old thread i know but useful info. Was just wondering about this myself. I don't want to run a bunch of low voltage wire around the layout if I don't have too, since I am not track power. Stand alone lighting is a better idea.

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    • May 17, 2018 12:11 PM EDT
      • East Brunswick, N J RRR#22
         
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      A few years ago I completed BC's Ice Cream Parlor. I put the solar heads on the roof with the light sticking through.

      The station roof in the bottom right also got 2 lites. Night shots follow.

      Station:

       

      However, they are getting older and the charge doesn't last all night.

    • May 17, 2018 2:27 PM EDT
      • Post Falls, Idaho
         
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      How replaceable are the batteries? I really like this idea. I was always going to run my layout with 12v solar lighting. I was thinking a solar panel, 12v battery, cable and then LEDs in the buildings. But I really prefer the stand alone idea.

       

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    • May 17, 2018 3:39 PM EDT
      • East Brunswick, N J RRR#22
         
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      I will have to get outside to check. Right now I can't find unused lights. None of my buildings are out yet. We have had 39 days and 39 nights of rain, I am looking for plans for an ark!

    • May 17, 2018 4:08 PM EDT
      • Fort Myers Beach & Annapolis, Florida & Maryland
         
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      Devon Sinsley said:

      How replaceable are the batteries? I really like this idea. I was always going to run my layout with 12v solar lighting. I was thinking a solar panel, 12v battery, cable and then LEDs in the buildings. But I really prefer the stand alone idea.

       

      Very.  Most use AA NiCads or similar.  Tenergy (all-battery.com) will sell you replacement batteries, and then you will get more than one season out of them - as John said above, replacing the battery is the single best upgrade.
      I've had some 'fence lights' (that Home Depot sold 10 years ago) working on the sides of my front steps for at least those 10 years.  Every year or two I pop them open, clean the contacts for the battery (usually spider nests!) and put in a new battery.

       

      This year we put solar string lights on our trees at the Florida property.  They came from Amazon - "Vmanoo LED String Lights 72 Feet 200 LED Solar Powered Copper Wire".  The wire is flexible but holds its shape, and I found you can re-wire them in multiple strings in parallel (the string trimmer took a couple apart!)  You have to be familiar with cleaning and soldering varnished copper wire.
      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074SHJSDG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      These control boxes had a LiIon 18500 battery in them - also freely available as a spare on aliexpress or amazon.

      This post was edited by Pete Thornton at May 23, 2018 9:32 AM EDT
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        Pete

    • May 17, 2018 4:52 PM EDT
      • East Brunswick, N J RRR#22
         
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      I found one. It has one 1.2v AAA battery soldered in, so it shouldn't be too hard to replace. I think I got them in a set of 10 at Harbor Freight Tools. I have each in BC's Ice Cream, Golding's Pretzel Hut, ex-birdfeeder schoolhouse, ex- birdfeeder church, and 2 in the platform station.

      Got them with a coupon at Harbor Freight. We don't pay full price for anything!

    • May 18, 2018 1:03 AM EDT
      • YYC, CANADA
         
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      i usually wait till CanadianTire has a 1x1.2AAA configured LED straight format for sale (50%off),  and then buy at least 10+ of them.  Mostly for 1:1 projects.   With an eye on g-gauge bldgs ;)

      http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/stainless-steel-fusion-solar-stake-lights-0528009p.html#srp

       

      For best solar power acquisition  they need the solar panel slightly tilted towards the sun.      I laugh at the people that install the flat head style up here, expecting great charges and to last the evening.   And then there are occassionals that have them pointing away from the sun   ?)    Explain this and just replace the battery inside when they seem to die off to occ. person in a store  and generally it is   "...really, oh ?" 

       

      No basic understanding of the concept "solar" !

      doug c

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      " G-Gauge may not RULE, but it  GROWS  on Ya !! "    djc'99

    • May 18, 2018 3:02 AM EDT

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      The batteries are easily replaceable, but at what cost? Home Depot sells a 4-pack of AAA NiMH batteries for $8. The dollar store sells the entire fixture for $1. I've found it quicker and more economical (if not exactly environmentally friendly) to just swap out the fixtures when they go bad. I've had some which have lasted me three or four years, and others which don't last a season. 

       

      If you're looking for ways to recycle, the cases make great speaker enclosures.

       

      Later,

       

      K

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