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Solar powered lights for camp toilets


I'd like to set up some lights around toilets and around capms in Guiglo, Cote D'Ivoire - so I'm considering using solar powered lights. Ideally I would like smallish units that give a strong downwards light and which could hang from a rope - I would string the rope fairly high (10 - 12 ft) to try to avoid people stealing them without going to the effort of cutting the rope down or removing supports. Most camping style lamps are inappropriate because they give light in a sideways direction, and the alternatives seem to be industrial level lights complete with poles etc - so quite pricey.

1) Does anyone have any products they would recommend or avoid? 2) In Pakistan I saw some orange disc shaped lights about 4" in diameter, about 1" thick, with quite a lot of LEDs on one side and Solar panel on the other - has anyone seen these or used them? they could be ideal. 3) What are the alternatives - giving out hurricane lamps, maybe...but then we would need to do one per family...

I'd be interested to see what views there are out there.

All the best, Mark

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I suggest that Mark is correct to worry about theft – if they are even perceived to be of value, then they will walk suspended or not and whether in Ivory Coast or Geneva! First thought from my side is what do people use themselves? LED headlamps might also be a possibility if distributing to families – certainly what our family uses camping. I do not have any direct experience of lamps similar to 2 below, so can not help further. Regards


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wind up, squeeze type, torches might be a good solution? Alan

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We (Dulas) used to sell small 12V LED bulbs with standard Edison Screw or bayonet bases. Combined with some festoon fittings (the ones that clamp on to flat cable) and a bit of 2.5 flat twin cable, connect to a small deep cycle or leisure battery via a fuse and charge it either every few days from a generator or with a small PV panel and charge controller. These LED lights were 1 watt or less so minimal current > low cable volt drop and small battery capacity required. The battery and any PV rig would need to be secure but could be a short distance away. Bulbs would still be nickable but not much use on thier own.

As a rule of thumb, work out total lighting power in watts, divide by 12 for current in amps (assuming a 12V system), multiply by cable length (one way) in metres and divide by 10 to get the cross sectional area of the cable for acceptable volt drop, eg 10 no. 1 watt bulbs = 10 W / 12 ~ 1 amp x 25 metres of cable / 10 = 2.5 twin cable.

I'll ask at work if these bulbs or anything similar are still available. Another possibility would be to get some LED fairy lights. Get the ones with a 12V transformer (you don't need all the flashing programs though). Ditch the tx and connect to a battery as before. Cheap and cheerful. I've used a similar approach at parties and festivals many times. I've got some green ones in my camper that have a built-in miniscule PV and a couple of AA NiMH batteries - bit dim but enough to see where to put your feet.

I suppose they still might get pinched but a bulb on its own is a lot less attractive than a complete unit with it's own panel and battery. They could be fitted in vandal-proof bulkheads or something for more protection from casual pilfering.

Hope it's useful,


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2014-01-27 05:28:55 -0500
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Last updated:
Jan 27 '14