Matterinc Solar LED Numbers
Anodized aluminum backlit numbers look great and last a long time
By Charlie White
House numbers are often difficult to see from the street at night, and homeowners sometimes worry that friends or even emergency services may not be able to find their address in the darkness. Matterinc set out to solve that problem with its Solar LED Numbers, backlit numerals cut out of your choice of black or natural-color anodized aluminum ($17.99 each). The company sent four of these numbers to us here at the Midwest Test Facility, where we've been testing them over a series of days and nights, evaluating not only their appearance, but their performance, too.
My first impression of these numbers was of their considerable heft. With a solar array at the top and their anodized aluminum construction, each one is substantially built. And, they look great these are not those cheap-looking backlit solar house numbers that you may have seen at cut-rate hardware stores and on the Web, the ones hidden in a simulated rock. This product's number is laser-cut from aluminum, and backlit by two white LEDs which are powered by batteries that are charged by a solar panel during the day.
The company advises you to make sure the panels receive full sun all day for best performance, but this is impossible if your house doesn't face south. The Midwest Test Facility's front fašade faces west, so with these numbers mounted on the front of the building, the solar arrays can only get sunlight for roughly half the day. I left them there for an entire sunny day, where they received full sun for only about 5.5 to 6 hours.
How well did they work? In two words, very well. When it got dark outside, I was delighted to see that these lights had turned on automatically and were extremely bright. The two LEDs that are backlighting these numbers are actually white; they're not blue or amber as many inferior solar-powered LEDs appear to be. The two LEDs are mounted behind the numerals, not actually lighting the numerals themselves but the background behind them. As I checked on the numbers as the night wore on, they stayed bright until well past midnight. Even at that point, five hours after the sun had set, they appeared to be just as brightly lit as they were four hours earlier. In fact, they stayed lit longer than I could stay awake. I think that's the idea if they can stay bright enough until you and everybody you know is asleep, then your mission is accomplished. The company says they last eight to 10 hours after a full charge on a sunny day, and that's probably close to being accurate.
The next day was a cloudy, rainy day here at the Midwest Test Facility, and I noticed that the solar arrays on each of the four numbers didn't receive any direct sunlight whatsoever during the entire day. Here was the supreme test: would the numerals still be lit at night even after a cloudy day? Going outside that night, I was surprised to see the lights were shining brightly. Even after a cloudy day, the numerals were clearly visible from the street 40 feet away. And, the lights were still brightly lit at midnight that night. The performance of the solar arrays and their attached LEDs was impressive indeed.
As is the case with any numerals you'll be mounting on the outside of your house, it's not easy to precisely line up these numerals on a wall. They include screws and anchors, and you mount a backplate first and then you screw them into that plate. That might be little difficult if you have a brick wall or stucco into which you must mount them.
|The two tiny dots on either side of the matterinc brand name are the LEDs that glow a bright white color. The two screws seen below the LEDs are driven into the mounting plate on the back of the unit.|
After testing these Solar LED Numbers from Matterinc for the better part of a week, I have to give them up big thumbs up. Their price is right, too. At just $17.99 per number, if you need four of them for your address, $72 gets you a swank-looking address marker that you could even attach to your mailbox and have it lit up every night. There's something great about solar power, where there are no batteries to replace, and all that power's just there for the taking. And with these numbers, even if it's a cloudy day, the lights still function well at night. You can plainly see them from the street, and they really do look nice. This is a high-quality product. Highly recommended.
Order the numbers from matterinc at http://matterinc.com/LEDSolarNumber1.htm