Yes, when not erecting suburbs, managing lovelorn Chinese seniors, or
selling prefab homes to Portlanders, IKEA is still very much in the business of peddling home furnishings and accessories to the budget- and style-conscious masses. And like the past couple of years, this includes releasing seasonal, solar-powered outdoor lighting solutions ideal for patio dance parties and romantical twilight cuddle sessions in the garden.
This year’s summer solar lighting collection, once again dubbed Solvinden, includes a few carry-overs from last summer (pendant and table lamps, Chinese lanterns, light chains, ground stakes, and questionable lawn ornaments in the shape of flamingos) with a few notable additions, namely a series of David Wahl-designed solar and wind-powered garden stakes and pendant lamps.
Requiring no plugs, cables, or unsightly extension cords thanks to integrated solar panels and wind power converters, the built-in (and replaceable) AA 1.2V battery that's included with each fixture can store up to 12 hours of light-emitting juice when fully charged. For the solar panels, recharge time is 9-12 hours on sunny days with more time needed on cloudy days. Recharge time for the wind power converter is over 24 hours with winds of 4 m/s. Both the pendant lamp ($29.99) and the ground stake ($39.99) include integrated LEDs with life spans of 20,000 hours.
Another new addition to the Solvinden collection that’s a strictly solar affair is a 19-foot-long chain of solar-powered birds designed by Ola Wihlborg. Each single strand ($14.99) contains a total of five illuminated, clip-on acrylic birds. While a cute tree accessorizing idea, I do wonder if festooning the maple out back with magically glowing IKEA birds would spook the real deal. My guess is yes, but you never know. They'd certainly confuse the hell out of the cat (and maybe Great Grandpa Albert). The recharge time and LED lifespan is the same as the solar/wind hybrid lamps and stakes.
Also new is a solar-powered serving bowl ($12.99) with LEDs embedded in the bottom — yes, it is indeed food- and drink-safe. I’m not sure how I feel about this although boozed-up backyard partiers who have struggled before to find a bowl of Doritos in the dark will surely appreciate it. Also, it might look cool filled with white sangria.
Items in the Solvinden collection are not available for purchase online, so you'll have to brave your local, possibly solar panel-equipped IKEA store to buy 'em. And I'd certainly check to make sure that they're actually in stock before you head out.