Category Archives: backyard

Hanging basket with a bunch of solar powered lights

Solar powered landscape lighting is an inexpensive way to add a simple accent to any ground area.

I bought a box of 12 lights and the cost was about 80 cents per unit. I didn’t have time to put them where I wanted. I just unpacked them and put them in a hanging basket on the deck.

Just a bunch of solar lights
Just a bunch of solar lights

Wow, I accidentally created a beautiful effect. In a very dark night JBOSL (Just of Bunch of Solar Lights) gives a soft eerie accent light.

They don’t even have to be in direct sunlight during the day. You don’t want bright lights, just a glow. Of course, if they don’t charge enough the glow won’t last long.

There are actual hanging solar powered light products out there, but for 80 cents a light and a cheap basket, you could add accents all over the place. Not too much, or you’ll be visited and have a close encounter of the wrong kind.

Caveats
Solar lights are not very reliable. First they are cheaply made and I think quality control is weak. If you search web, you’ll find constant complaints that a percentage of solar lights received don’t even work.
What I find the most painful is that the batteries used in these things are “non-standard”; so hard to replace. Yup, rechargeable batteries wear out.

Related links

  • 5 Main Reasons Why Your Solar Lights Are Not Performing as Well as New.
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    How to easily siphon water from pool cover

    Time to open up the pool. This time I’ll use my brain and figure out how to do this better.

    Yucky Method
    The cheapest way to do this is by getting a short length of hose, putting one end in the pool, the other in your mouth and getting the air out. Once that is done, if you take the end and lower it below the other end in the pool, the laws of physics take over, and planet will try to make the two ends of the hose have the same water pressure. Thus, the water starts draining out.

    But, that is yucky. You have to really put your arms in that dirty water, and you may get some of it when you suck out the air. I see little wiggly worms in there.

    The inexpensive plastic pump method
    My new neighbor lent me a plastic pump, that you press plunger a few times and it starts a flow between two short narrow hoses that are attached. Search web for “hand pump to drain water”. I didn’t know there were inexpensive things like this so went thru the experiments below. Apparently, these pumps are used in garages, boats and stuff.

    Note there are really very cheap plastic pumps that require you squeeze a small plastic piece with one hand to get the flow going. That one doesn’t work. The one that worked for me was more like a piston, like a bicycle tire pump. Very small, about fourteen dollars. The hoses on each end are also plastic and very narrow. Takes a loooooong time to empty the top of pool. Sometimes it stops flowing and you have to start the flow again.

    My Method #1
    Method #2 below, is better. Get one of those large plastic water jugs. Like the ones used in water dispensers.

    pool-siphon

    1. Put a hole in the cap so that you can push the hose thru.
    2. Fill the jug with water.
    3. Put the cover back on the jug.
    4. Now one end of the hose is in the jug. Take the other end and stick it in the pool.
    5. Carefully, move the jug closer to the pool and upend the jug.
    6. Water will start draining from the jug into the pool. This will remove the air in the hose!
    7. Pull the hose in the jug so that it is bottom of jug. This will allow you to flip the jug over again and prevent air to get into the hose.
    8. Bring the jug below the height of the other end in the water.
    9. Now when you flip the jug over, the pool water will be draining out.

    Writing down the steps makes it seem complicated. All your trying to do is remove the air from the old hose your using to siphon out the water. It’s just like that motor gas siphoning technique.

    My Method #2
    I have another idea. This is much simpler. Have not tried it yet. [update: it works!]

  • Get a hose and cut it so that you can put one end in the water on top of pool cover, and the other end long enough to hang below the desired water level.
  • Now get rubber stopper plugs that fit each end of hose airtight. I got a set at the local hardware store.
  • At a faucet fill the hose with water and close in that water with the two end caps.
  • Now put one end in the pool and the end other outside the pool, hanging below the desired water level.
  • Remove the end plug that is outside of pool, and then the plug at the other end inside pool.
  • When you remove the caps, the water should start emptying.

    An even better better way?
    This video shows an alternative method. I didn’t try this, but the video shows it working. If you have a long enough hose, you can connect put that hose in the pool. Turn on the water. When all the bubbles have stopped coming from the end in the pool, turn off the faucet. Disconnect end of the hose at the faucet side. If the height of the pool is higher than the final end of the hose you should start getting water draining from the pool.

    Or you can buy a pump. I once bought a cheap pump and it didn’t last one day of use.

    Links

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