Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Sunbeam Color Changing LED Night Light (Dollar Tree)

If you want a night light that only illuminates things half the time, this is the one for you.
A vast majority of the items I cover in this blog are store brands, simply because those are generally the most budget-conscious kinds of items. But that is just a preference, not a rule, and so here we are taking a look at a night light from Sunbeam, a company known for making cheap shit. Some of their stuff lasts, most of it does not, so let's cut right to the chase.

First things first: This thing feels cheap. Again, though, that was not a surprise to me. I mean, just look at it...it doesn't really scream "well-made". But it's a dollar and something that you're just going to plug into a wall and forget about, so I neither require nor expect it to be built like a tank...it's just offered as an observation. However, I managed to take it out of the package without breaking it, so at least there's that.

We live in a rather small condo, and decided to place ours in the upstairs hallway, which has our room, the baby's room, and the bathroom all within a few feet. It's a very small space that shouldn't require a lot of light to illuminate, and a great place to get a feel for how this light works. As the package (and title) indicate, this is a color change night light, so it alternates between most, if not all, of the colors on the rainbow spectrum. There is also an off-switch that should allow you to turn it off should you not want it on all day, but we will touch more on that later.

Actually, we'll just touch on it now: ours won't turn off, even when the tab is switched to the “off” position. I'm not really going to make a huge deal about that, because I would much rather have that problem than the opposite, but it would certainly be nice to not have to leave it on all the time (or remember to unplug it, which neither of us ever seem to do; it's hardly bright enough to be noticeable in daylight hours).

In terms of light output, it's absolutely frustrating, because the different colors give off such a varying spectrum of light that having to rely on it requires Indiana Jones-style timing. As a real-life example, I use it to put my son to bed, because I don't want to turn the hallway light on while he's tired (for obvious reasons) and I don't want to run the risk of blasting him in the face, or catching his attention, with my cell phone flash. The upstairs gets pretty darn dark at night, so I need it to more or less guide me. If it's not on the right color, namely a shade of blue or green, then I've got to stand at the top of the darkened steps and wait for it to cycle to those colors so I can see where I'm going.

The red is absolutely worthless, as it doesn't even illuminate a foot in front of it, as is the orange. The light is literally mere feet from our bedroom doorway, and there have been several instances where I've woken up in the middle of the night, glanced out, and thought that the light had died because it's so dark. Then, a few seconds later, the blue pops up casting a bright glow, and proving that it's still working. While the wide spectrum of seven or eight different colors is pretty good for a product this cheap, I'd honestly rather they just stick to the two or three that are actually useful for illuminating a small space, where. I suppose if you're just using this as a way to find your way to something in the dark (i.e. the bathroom), and the actual fixture is visible the entire time, then this might work for you. But I feel like most people using a night light are expecting it to give off some sort of light, as the name suggests, and this product only delivers about 3/8ths of the time.

On the plus side, this thing has lasted a surprisingly long time: It's been running non-stop for about ten months now (maybe even longer), without being turned off once, and it still “works” just as well as it did (or didn't) the day we brought it home. It might not be a great product, but at least it'll be a not great product for a very long time. And that has to count for something.

Overall: 5.5/10. I'm torn on this because the price point is cheap, and it delivers a solid number of colors for that price. Our two-year-old son loves to just sit and watch the colors rotate, so it gets some brownie points for that. However, in terms of actually illuminating even a small area at night, only two or three colors get bright enough to actually do that—the others have troubles lighting up even a foot or two in front of it, with no exaggeration. That kind of makes its intended use as a night light rather worthless, at least in the basic sense of the term, as I rely on that light to carry our son up to bed, and literally have to wait for one of the bright colors to illuminate my path. It does come with an on/off switch, but our “off” switch doesn't work, meaning we have to unplug it to turn it off. That's not really a big deal, but we never do so it's been running pretty much non-stop for the better part of ten months; credit for longevity on that front because it's still running with no issues. It's a decent deal for someone in the market for a cheap light, but if you want something consistently and reliably bright—two things most people look for in something called a “night light”--look elsewhere.

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