SoLite Solar Cockpit Lights

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2012 • all rights reserved

Highly recommended solar light

When I wrote about Brittany (Windtraveler) using 12-volt Christmas lights in the cockpit, a couple of readers wrote about solar lights they were using.

UPDATE: I now recommend the Luci Lights instead — we have two and I love them! Read more about them here, and about the Luci Lux and Aura here.

I haven’t used the SoLite from LumiQuest myself but it looks really intriguing if you’re like us and like to retract the bimini after dark and thus can’t use lights that hang from the bimini stainless.  We had tons of places where this could have hung during the day, and it would have been so easy to clip it onto the boom (over the cockpit) at sunset.

Whether it’s dinner after dark or just a drink, I like a bit of light.  I want to see what I’m eating . . . and the soft light from this would have been perfect.  Not blinding, but just a nice soft light.

The SoLite has 4 LEDs — not necessarily bright enough to read by, but plenty of light for social situations or to see where you’re walking.  There is 1 rechargeable AA battery that can be replaced when needed (our experience is that rechargeable batteries slowly lose their ability to hold a charge and have to be replaced after about a year).

Fully charged, the light will last over 6 hours on the low setting — sufficient for an evening but not going to last all night.  There are three settings — high, low and off.

And just like the solar yard lights, it’s waterproof.  The only “maintenance” it needs is to have the solar cell wiped off periodically so that dirt and salt don’t prevent the batteries from getting a full charge.  Just hang it in a place where it gets as much sun as possible.

Cruising World featured the SoLite in their November “New Products” section and editor Jen Brett (who’s also a TBG fan) has been using one and recommends it.

As I was investigating the light, I learned a couple of things — first, LumiQuest specializes in photo flash accessories and seems to have developed the SoLite originally for nightime photographers to have an alternative to a headlamp or flashlight.  Second, while there are other companies that make somewhat similar-looking lights, they don’t get nearly as high marks for reliability or longevity even though the price is about the same.

List price is $20 but the SoLite is available on Amazon for less.  It’s also available on Amazon Canada, but at such a ridiculously high price (click here to see if it’s come down), I just can’t recommend it — you’re better off buying from Amazon US and paying the extra shipping.

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  1. in re: rechargeable batteries

    these batteries have ‘memory.’ They hold charge better and last longer if you completely discharge and then completely recharge them from time to time.

  2. Hello Boat Galley!

    Hampton Bay also makes a hanging solar light bulb through Home Depot. The bulb was $8 and works fantastic! However the Home Depot in the FL keys only got them in as a promo/seasonal item 🙁 all of us cruisers are trying to convince then to bring them back. Keep up the great work BG.

  3. We love our solar bulbs!

  4. These are amazing and last much longer than you think they will . We have several on the boat – highly recommend them.

  5. Love ours!

  6. I remember reading your post about this last year … I asked Santa for one and I´m still waiting! =)

  7. Placed my order — now there are ony 7 left at Amazon

  8. Lewis Keizer says:

    Got one from Amazon and it died and stopped working after one day. Tried to get exchange, but no place online. I use the Davis 12V light that comes on when dark now because solar-charging gadgets like this are cheaply made and don’t last.

  9. Hi there!
    Just found your website and LOVE IT! Thank you for sharing all of your tips!
    We found these for lights and they work great! The heads are adjustable so you can literally put them anywhere you want! My husband bungeed one to the backstay so he can see while he’s grilling.

  10. I have the SoLite solar light and it works well after almost a year but…..the hanging device is getting very rusted and I don’t know how much longer it will last.
    We’ve been using two solar lights we bought at IKEA for 4 months and they work great! We’ve only had them for 4 months so I cannot speak to longevity yet but we use them for reading at night in the cockpit and they provide PLENTY of light!

  11. I just ordered three!!

  12. I ordered 2!

  13. We had great results with inexpensive garden solar lights. The stems that stick into the soil fit perfectly into our winches. We trimmed the other (non-grooved) end to a suitable height and voila! They work & look great.

  14. We bought one of these and the hanger rusted in in time.

  15. I bought a SoLight and it stopped working in two days. Couldn’t revive it. Contacted the company. No response. Just sayin’…

  16. Windsong II says:

    We really enjoy reading your website. We are commuter cruisers from Canada. We use a few $.99 solar yard lights around the boat, we try to use ones that will stay on all night so we are more visible in an anchorage. For cockpit use at night we have an LED light in our arch (Hunter boat) that works well, also Hunter supplies a nice light on the pedestal that is directed down onto the cockpit tables for dinning. With LED lighting the draw is so little it does not have to be self contained, it can run off the house batteries and be recharged off a big solar panel during the day in a few seconds.
    Bob & Sherry

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