We live on a street with no streetlights and it gets very dark at night. People who come to our house at night have trouble seeing things. I bought one of these $24 solar powered motion sensor lights with a 20-LED array and PIR (passive infrared) motion sensor and mounted (hardware included) it on a 12-foot wood column at the far end of the driveway. Lucky for me, the solar panel is facing the south so the batteries get a good dose of juice every day.
It works really well. When a car or person enters the driveway at night, the light comes on and throws surprisingly wide coverage. The light is so bright that it hurts to look directly at the lED array. The back of the unit has a 3-mode switch. You can set it to turn on and stay on when it gets dark (in one of two brightness levels) or to turn on only when it detects motion (the setting I use). People on Amazon say the batteries run down in 11 hours if you set it on the dim mode, and 2 hours in bright mode.
Update: Boing Boing reader Joe Stirt recommends this 32 LED model, which also costs $24:
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The folks at Biolite sent me a PowerLight Mini. It's a rechargeable LED lantern with a 1350 mAh battery. It has a burn time of over 50 hours in low light mode, and 5 hours in high mode. It can also be used to charge your phone.
My favorite thing about it is the design. It's very cute - it has a retro feel that reminds me of a Japanese transistor radio and a Star Trek communicator. The body is stainless steel and it feels solid. I've been using it to read books at night. In the video above, the Biolite team shows how they designed the PowerLight Mini.
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I bought a pair of these magnetic clip lights last year and they've proven to be incredibly useful when I have to do repair work. The light has 8 LEDs and it throws a pretty wide beam of bright light. It sticks securely to any ferrous metal surface and has a clip so you can attach it to your pocket. I used it recently when I was installing a new safety switch in a washing machine. I stuck it on the side of the washing machine cabinet and it gave me plenty of light to attach the ground wire and route the cable. I haven't had to change the batteries yet, either.
The price is right, too. A set of 2 costs $9 on Amazon.
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Shut up and take my money, Lumio. Just shut right up and take it. Jesus!
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I replaced all the bulbs in my house with fluorescent bulbs a few years ago, and now I'm replacing the fluorescents with LED bulbs. The best I've tried so far is the Philips 10.5-watt Slim Style Dimmable A19 LED Light Bulb ($10), which has 26 LEDs in it. One of my favorite things about it is the shape -- it looks like a light bulb with the air let out. I made a quick video so you can see what it looks like.
Despite the odd shape, the light it gives off is even and steady. It does a poor job with a dimmer, though -- it strobes annoyingly. Anyone know of an LED bulb that you can dim without strobing? Read the rest
The lava lamp turns 50 this year! The product's inventor, Edward Craven Walker, was inspired by a Christmas ornament containing oil and water. This month in 1963, he launched his company, now called Mathmos, named after the lava lake in Barbarella. Check out an early prototype below. Read the rest
Jake Von Slatt tells Boing Boing, "I got an email this morning from Flaminio Bovino, a young Italian designer who though I might like this amazing blimp lamp he made. He was correct!" Read the rest
Art Donovan writes, "I've created a current collection of illuminated designs that take cues from just about every global, antique influence I can find. My latest work, 'The Most Excellent Rumi Redux' stretches my sources just about as far as I've gone yet."
We've featured a lot of Art's excellent work before.
Mr. Donovan’s newest design, “Rumi Redux”, uses influences from the 13th century Persian poet, Rumi. The imagery (and Arabic calligraphy) is inspired by the famous 12th century Persian scientist, al Jazari. The crown art is entirely hand painted in gouache and gold leaf with translucent dyes used for the back-lit elements.
The back-lit, glowing “Eye” is inspired by an early 19th century painting from an English masonic lodge. The comet is reproduced accurately from the 16th century German, “Wunderzeichenbuch” (The Book of Miracles). The Persian elephant is reproduced from an early illuminated text and the crescent moon is 2" thick, frosted convex lens- which is then back-lit and rear painted in deep red to evoke earth shine. The solid mahogany base is painted in pale matte gray with hand made brass and silk tassels.
"The Most Excellent Rumi Redux" (Thanks, Art!) Read the rest