PRODUCT REVIEW- Portfolio Solar LED Lighting Product, Volume 1

As a Landscape Architect, I get many requests for information on products that I have used on my projects. This happens so often, I have decided to post product reviews for those particular products as further education and information for my customers. This will be my first, so bear with me.

The question I get most often is on the use of solar LED lighting products. To be quite honest, in the past I have not used them. Although they ARE inexpensive, the light output has been quite pitiful over the years and the fixtures completely unattractive in my opinion. Quite frankly, they have a bad rap and I have never used them. I decided, however, to do a formal, somewhat scientific review of these items to really see for myself whether they are worth another look for my projects.

I started with the most inexpensive fixtures I could find- they run about $4 each at Lowe's. The rating system will be as follows:

RATING SYSTEM:
*            Does not meet expectations
**          Below Expectations
***        Meets Expectations
****      Above Expectations
*****    Significantly Exceeds Expectations

CHECK OUT The VIDEO Blog of my findings at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wZQQEfrXSU&feature=youtu.be

The Products I reviewed and the ratings:

PORTFOLIO LED landscape lights (sold individually at Lowe's) installed directly into the soil of a sunny spot. NOTE: Make sure that the battery protecting tab is removed before inserting it into the soil.
 

  • PORTFOLIO Mini Light Item #0329346- This solar light is constructed of a plastic stem covered with a stainless steel finish. The globe is crackled glass. The fixture stands 12" tall.  (NOTE: When you insert this fixture in the ground, it will only stand about 7" tall.)The literature for this product does not list how may hours of light to expect or how many lumens the output will be.   
  • RATING OF THIS PRODUCT: I considered this product to be the most attractive of the other four and I like the use of glass on the globe, versus plastic. Although I had high hopes, I was unprepared for was that the light emitted from this fixture was in shades of red, green and blue! That would be fine for a Christmas decoration, but hardly suitable for a pathway light. The light emitted also was not sufficient to light a path sufficiently. Further, this light did not last the 8 hours as with the other lights reviewed this week.
  • THIS PRODUCT GETS A RATING OF (Does not meet expectations.)
  • PORTFOLIO Path light Item #0010274- This solar light is constructed of plastic covered with a bronze finish. The fixture stands 12.08" tall. (NOTE: When you insert this fixture in the ground, it will only stand about 7" tall.) The literature for this product lists the lumen output for this product to be 2.4 lumens. You should receive 8 hours of consistent light from this product after a normal sunny day.
  • RATING OF THIS PRODUCT: This product did put out 8 hours of consistent light, but it was insufficient to light a pathway. I would only use this light fixture to highlight something that you want to bring awareness to. For example I might use one of these fixtures to light either side of a step just so that people will know it is there. I would not use it as the primary light for any walkway.
  • THIS PRODUCT GETS A RATING OF ** (Below expectations.)
  • PORTFOLIO Path light Item #0484682- This solar light is constructed of plastic covered with a stainless steel finish. The fixture stands 11.5" tall.  (NOTE: When you insert this fixture in the ground, it will only stand about 7" tall.)The literature for this product lists the lumen output for this product to be 5 lumens. You should receive 8 hours of consistent light from this product after a normal sunny day.
  • RATING OF THIS PRODUCT:This product also put out 8 hours of consistent light, but it was insufficient to light a pathway. As with the last example, I would only use this light fixture to highlight something that you want to bring awareness to. For example I might use one of these fixtures to light either side of a step just so that people will know it is there. I would not use it as the primary light for any walkway.
  • THIS PRODUCT GETS A RATING OF **(Below expectations.)
  • PORTFOLIO Path light Item #0486005- This solar light is constructed of


    plastic covered with a rust finish. The fixture stands 10.9" tall.  (NOTE: When you insert this fixture in the ground, it will only stand about 6" tall.) The literature for this product lists the lumen output for this product to be 8 lumens. You should receive 8 hours of consistent light from this product after a normal sunny day.
  • RATING OF THIS PRODUCT:This product also put out 8 hours of consistent light ONLY for the first night, but it was still insufficient to light a pathway, although the light output was more visible than the others.  The second night, this light did not work at all. In addition, the shortness of the stem also did not allow that additional light to really illuminate anything underneath it. Maybe if you could construct a taller stem for this light, the light might actually be able to illuminate some of a pathway. Without a taller stem, I would also only use this light fixture to highlight something that you want to bring awareness to. For example I might use one of these fixtures to light either side of a step just so that people will know it is there. I would not use it as the primary light for any walkway. The fact that it did not work the second night at all leads me to believe this fixture is a total waste of money.
  • THIS PRODUCT GETS A RATING OF (Does not meet expectations.)

So, in hindsight, I will still continue to NOT use these products. Maybe my next edition of Solar LED product reviews will change my opinion.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: After two weeks, these products stopped working completely. Compete and total waste of money.

See my post on other solar lighting products at:
http://musings-of-a-gardendiva.blogspot.com/2014/11/product-review-hampton-bay-solar-led.html

PLEASE READ MY DISCLAIMER:  Please note these product reviews are only my opinion. Proper use, installation, applications and risk are assumed by the user with any of these products.

About the Author:

Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect and active in the landscape design/build industry for over 25 years. For additional inspiring project pictures, design ideas, or great garden gifts, take a look at these websites:

HOUZZ:    http://www.houzz.com/pro/hawkinsla/__public

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hawkins-Landscape-Architecture/107145146130?ref=hl

GARDEN ART AND GIFTS: WWW.TriadGarden.com

DESIGN WORK PORTFOLIO: WWW.HawkinsLA.com