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A Solar Holiday

We’re back with our favourite solar shoppe for the holidays, to show you how you can light up the season in an environmentally-friendly and beautiful way. Well, several ways, to be exact, if you’re shopping at Allsop Home and Garden.

Located in the U.S. state of Idaho, Allsop was founded over ten years ago by Jamey Allsop (now Company President) and her father, in a bid to create what Allsop calls “the best, most innovative, and conscientious products possible.” A decade later, we’d agree that they’ve done it – Allsop’s solar lanterns, light strings, and other gorgeously-designed lighting products feature both durable materials and festive colors, plus new, cool designs just often enough to make these modern-meets-bohemian lamps collectibles, too.

For this year’s holiday season, Allsop once again sent some of their great products to our new Pyxis Mag offices, so we could try them out in-person.

First up were the Soji Solar Red and Solar White – a peppermint-fresh combo for Christmas in a more traditional round shape. Both lanterns popped up easily, and attach to a simple metal handle for hanging – a terrific new option for this style of lantern is Allsop’s additional plastic base, which enables you to use the Soji Solar as a tabletop lantern, too.

soji three
Similar to the Original Soji Solars are Allsop’s distinctive Soji Printed Solars, which also accordian open, but are printed with unique designs – the one we tested, Dandelion Seed (top), featured a crisp blend of white, lime green, and olive green, and looked great next to the red in a more abstract, contemporary version of the usual “Christmas colours.”

“The Soji Original and Soji Printed lanters are constructed of heavy duty nylon for outdoor use, and each lantern is equipped with two high-powered LEDs,” explains Tami Harrison, Allsop’s Web Sales and Social Media guru.

Heavy duty is right – on our photo shoot site, which had been dampened the previous day by melting snow, we found ourselves, shall we say, a bit more clumsy than usual, and a couple of the Allsop lanterns really got their test-run workout by being dropped and banged around even more than usual. Damage? None. Even the bits of mud that stuck to them brushed off of the nylon fabric easily, and the rounded shapes just popped right back to where they should be.

The Soji Stella is another of Allsop’s highlights this year, and is made of an equally-durable Tyvek material that’s rendered in a metallic sheen and punched with decorative holes, just as reminiscent of tin art as is its tin-can shape, perfect for hanging. The Midnight Blue one we tested was a dusky, dark blue tone well-suited for both Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations.

“This solar lantern is a beautiful and unique way to dress up outdoor space,” Harrison says. “It emits a pattern at night.”

And finally, we tested the new Bubble Glass lanterns (ours was in Emerald – the other traditional Christmas colour, of course), which are hand-blown and, although glass, felt quite sturdy and rich.

“The bubbles are blown in for texture and fun,” Harrison says, “these are sure to add an extra pop during the holidays.”

While we wouldn’t be quite so daring about hanging the Bubble Glass lanterns as we were the nylon and Tyvek ones (we’re thinking that, although beautiful, the Bubble Glass may not ‘bounce back’ as easily, if at all), they’re perfect to set along a pathway, on a table, or even hanging from a porch or walkway railing – the green glow of ours looked festive indeed, and complemented the nearby pine foliage perfectly.

And while these new designs are standouts, there’s even more behind Allsop’s unique versions of solar lighting. The company holds over 450 patents worldwide, enough so that they’re already being copied by other solar contenders. But while you may see similar products on the market, Allsop’s quality really stands out, and they keep things fresh by constantly developing new ideas.

“We tend to be ahead of the curve by consistently updating our patterns, colours, and product design,” Harrison explains. “As the founders of the concept of ‘solar garden art,’ we strive to combine creative materials with solar  power for efficient, beautiful, and sustainable outdoor lighting.”

IMGP0443   A closer look at Allsop’s solar lantern panel and the construction of the Soji Stella Lantern.

Allsop will be continuing to do exactly that for 2014. In the new year, they’re planning to introduce a new Soji Stella lantern to the line that Harrison says they’re very enthused about. “It will utilise an updated punched material with bright, neon colours and a reverse finish,” she says. “We are also working with our glass blower to progress the hand-blown, artisan nature of our products. Keep your eyes peels for new solar glass products and original prints in 2014 – you won’t want to miss it!”

And, as Harrison puts it, “added bonus”: Allsop’s lanterns collect sunlight all day and glow by night, so you won’t have to deal with tangled cords or wires – ever. Now that’s a holiday lighting idea that Santa would especially love.  – Kristi Kates

To find out more and purchase Allsop Home and Garden’s great solar products, visit them online at their official site and on Facebook.