Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
Illuminating, but with limited intensity, better than most, but short battery life
on 12 February 2015
I built a library bookcase wall in my study some years ago. I bought lighting for the enclosed bookcases throughout, and hired two different electricians to wire in lights in each of the cupboard. Both electricians proved incompetent, couldn't get the lights working properly (they were not faulty) and left the bookcases with ugly holes.
As we had just moved house we needed to unpack and I secured the bookcases to the wall unwired, having ripped out the disastrous work of the electricians. I decided to try to buy battery powered wireless lighting. I've been through three different types. There are very stylish cylindrical metal ones which slide through a plastic dome. these fit well, look nice and work for a very long time with a set of batteries. Unfortunately they are so dim that you can't even tell if they're on or not. There is another type that I use, also metal based, which is in the form of a rounded baton. These also have a quality look and feel to them, have long battery life and produce much better light. However they don't have any means for fixing with screws, and are designed to attach magnetically. I can use them in the bottom of compartments, but then they are very visible. If they were fitted to be screw mounted they would be perfect.
After not having usable lighting for two years I read the reviews on these, and decided to give them a try. They weren't very expensive (less than £10 each), but since I needed 18 sets they work out at quite a lot for my use.
A number of reviewers have commented that the tape doesn't hold them. In my experience no tape adequately bears the weight of battery powered lights. They will all fall off after a period of time, and, in a cupboard with any items of value or fragile items this is a recipe for disaster. If you're going to mount lights on the underside of a cabinet they must be screwed in.
The screws supplied with the Am-Tech lights are far too long for any cupboard. If you try to use them they will simply go through the material and stick out above. This will damage the cabinet, which if made from wood will also split the carcass. This point is a major defect. I checked the screws on arrival, and finding they were too long had to go out and buy shorter screws. Also, the screws are a very cheap silver alloy self-tapping variety. This means that they will shear if the screws encounter any resistance while fixing, making them extremely difficult to remove. Another major defect. I replaced them with brass self-tapping screws which are the correct type to fix into wood or mdf.
Overall the appearance of the lights is not very impressive. They are cheap moulded plastic, and look like it. All of the other lights that I have bought were metal, and look much nicer. However, as I pointed out they were either too dim, or couldn't be ceiling-mounted.
What is nice about these lights is that the light produced is actually very bright for battery powered lights. Some reviewers have commented that these are not bright, perhaps they are using lower MaH rated batteries, or batteries that aren't fully charged. I find that the illumination provided is actually very good. Having three independent clusters of directable lights on each means you can highlight multiple points in one space, which is another very good feature. I believe that the most important element of decorating any room is how you light the room, and these lights provide a very nice solution. If they are mounted on the underside of the top of a cupboard you don't actually notice how plasticy they look, and when turned on the brightness of the light means your focus is purely on the items that you are illuminating. While they are cheap and look it, when in use they appear to be much better quality than they are.
The biggest problem is the battery compartment and battery life. Each light takes a whopping 6 AAA batteries. They will work on just 3, but they aren't bright enough. The battery compartment is flimsy and the aperture for each battery varies in dimension as a result of the variable quality of the springs used. Some batteries fit in easily, others require some force to make the contact.
I have an almost industrial approach to using rechargeable batteries. I buy the most powerful (what I can find at this point are 1100 MaH AAA, but I'm certain this capacity will increase in future. I tend to buy more expensive batteries that are higher rated as they last much longer between recharges. I also have very good chargers that optimise the life of the batteries. Despite this approach, these lights burn through batteries at an unacceptably fast rate. I have 18 lights X 6 batteries per light. That's 108 AAA batteries. When I first installed the lights I found that the brightness faded within about 1-3 hours of turning the lights on. Some lights then became very dim, or stopped working altogether. I assumed that, since the batteries were new, the initial charges were perhaps not as strong as they should have been. I spent 3 days charging all 108 batteries and swapping the fully charged batteries out.
Once fully charged the batteries last much longer. However I am still getting a maximum of 2 - 4 hours on a single charge, which means that I can use the lights for part of 1 day, or for limited hours over up to 3 days. Having to recharge 108 batteries every few days is a very unattractive prospect, especially if your life is complicated by things like a job, family or any other interests.
The result is that I don't turn the lights on. Which brings me back to where I was before I installed these lights. I have lights in my bookcases that I can't use, as I don't want to spend my time recharging batteries on a regular basis. OK, I didn't turn the old lights on because they didn't illuminate anything. But the batteries on those lasted months, not hours. And they're the same batteries.
My advice is to hire an electrician to correctly wire your bookcases with mains lighting, or simply to do without lighting, unless you want to spend your life charging and replacing batteries. Don't even think about using non-rechargeable batteries with these lights.
If they could prolong the battery life on these lights they would be well worth the money,