Solar Utility Light - Quick and Simple

If you need light in a shed or outhouse then this self-contained unit might be just the job.

Here at the EcoList we have been testing out the SolarMate Point 5 Utility Light for the past couple of weeks so that we can give you an idea about how it works and whether it deserves your hard earned cash.

If you have ever considered buying some form or solar lighting, and been worried about how complicated it might be to install, then this is the unit for you. Solar Technology International, who designed the unit, say that it “can be installed in minutes” and they aren’t joking. Simple take the two units (the lamp and the solar panel) out of the box, plug one into the other, using the supplied 1.8m cable, and you are ready to install it in your shed.

The lighting unit is made up of 10 bright white LEDs. Using the supplied screws you can mount this just were it will be needed inside and place the solar panel on the outside of your building. Both units have well designed mounts so you can quickly adjust their angle: the solar panel so it faces south (at an angle of around 30 - 55 degrees), and receives as much light as possible, and the lighting unit so that it shines where you need it.

There is a small remote control supplied, used to switch the unit on and off and although this seemed, initially, like an unnecessary extra it does make perfect sense. You are, after all, likely to mount the lighting unit out or reach on an internal wall. The remote control means that there is no need for extra wiring for an accessible switch - you simply point it at the light unit and press ‘On’. In case you are worried about losing the remote it comes with a small holder, which you can mount on the wall so you always know where the remote is. A small but very smart addition to the design. There is also a switch on the lighting unit so you have the choice to operate it without the remote as well.

This is a ‘utility’ light, ideal for illuminating the dark recesses of your shed and is designed to cover around 9 square meters and function in all daylight conditions - even cloudy skies. During our testing period we have had typical British spring-like weather: overcast, rain, shows and the odd sunny day. The unit has performed perfectly. We followed the instructions to the letter and after installing it waited 4 days for the supplied batteries to be charged from the solar panel. The manufactures calculate that you should get around 3 hours of light a day which is more than enough for occasional use. If you spend more than 3 hours in your shed each day you need to rethink your life!

Apart from the SolarMate providing your with almost maintenance free eco lighting it is ideal for locations without mains electricity. Running a cable to the shed at the bottom of your garden, and having lighting professionally installed, can cost a small fortune (I know - I’ve done it!) so, not only will you be helping to save the planet (a little) by using the SolarMate, you will also save cash as well. If you have a remote building (shed, garage, stable, summer house or even a tent) then this is ideal.

SolarMate Point 5 costs £24.99, with free delivery in the UK, and can be ordered online from

The unit comes with a two year guarantee, is packaged in cardboard and only has a small amount of plastic to protect it during transport.

Life should be simple and there is no reason why wanting to use an eco alternative shouldn’t be simple too! [A]