Tealights: Wicked No More

I have just discovered battery-powered tealights.

How long have these things been available, and why has no one informed me?* As far as I’m concerned, this is the most significant advance in holiday technology since Avon came out with those fiber-optic snowpeople in the 1990s.

I have a lovely tealight holder that works very nicely on the bookcase at the top of the stairs, but the wax tealights it requires last only two hours. It gets dark around 4:30 in the afternoon here, so keeping a real tealight going until bedtime would mean three tealights a night, 90 per month, 300 or so until spring is in the air. I don’t have the storage space for that many!

In contrast, the battery-powered tealight is on its 15th hour as I write this; the package promises “up to 40 hours.” That’s more than a week’s worth of faux flame.

Even better, the flame stays cool even as it flickers. This means I will be able to use another one to light the tiny glass house in the train village without worrying that its little roof will crack from the heat.

I can put one inside the glass church I found at a resale shop.

I can tuck one inside the stable of our Nativity scene without setting off the manger’s teeny tiny smoke detector.**

And best of all, when I ran the numbers, I found that the battery-operated version costs half a penny less per hour than what I have taken to calling the wicked variety.  [Based on Saturday’s price for one 6-pack of battery-operated tealights vs a 50-pack of paraffin ones with wicks.  Your mileage may vary depending on local prices.]

I’m all for the genuine article, and I have a big bag of four- and six-hour beeswax votives from a church supply store that I use for stained-glass votive holders. But for the dark at the top of the stairs, I really like the flickering from the candle glass on the landing. As the saying goes: It is better to switch on one tealight than to curse the darkness after only 2 hours.

*I know that battery-operated pillar candles have been around for a while, especially in restaurants, but I haven’t run across the tealight size before. If I’m the last person on the planet to have discovered them…well, I never claimed to be an Early Adopter.

**Kidding about the smoke detector in the manger…

Come on, Tim, there’s all sorts of winter insects you could be writing about this time of year: the northern ice weevil, hairy frost mites who colonize smooth glassy surfaces, snow termites who germinate underneath drifts and tunnel out on sunny days when the temps rise above 25º.

© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

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15 Responses to Tealights: Wicked No More

  1. Becky says:

    Plus, too much smoke can activate the sprinkler system installed in the manger per the recent building code.


  2. Tim Eisele says:

    Very nice, and certainly much less of a fire hazard than the real thing. We could actually use these around the house without certain little girls burning themselves. Although, one really needs to have standard candles for some of Prof. Wiseman’s party tricks.


  3. You are not the last person on earth to have discovered battery-powered tealights. I am…


  4. How cool is that? It’s less of a fire hazard too.


    • Anne Bingham says:

      Right: no open flame. And I suspect the environmental impact is a wash. Both kinds are petroleum based, and while this one uses batteries, at least I can recycle the batteries during the annual hazardous-waste round-up in town. I ended up throwing away the flimsy little metal cups the wax ones came in.


  5. Catherine A. Winn says:

    I never knew about them! Sometimes instead of a fire, I have a very nice candle holder for small candles or tealights and I put it in the fireplace. Like you said they burn out way to soon. I know what I’m looking for in the morning!


    • Anne Bingham says:

      And unlike a fire, there are no pesky ashes to remove the next day. I’m pretty sure they’re on sale this week at Walgreen’s {looking for the Walgreen’s flyer…but I think we recycled it because today was the last recycling pick-up until January}.


  6. MaryWitzl says:

    Aww, I am SO gullible! And very grateful that you wrote what you did about the smoke detector in your wee manger.

    I’ve never seen battery-operated tea lights here, and I would definitely go for them. I bought a bag of 500 tea lights when we were running our inn and the mice got into them and nibbled about 250. Heartbreaking!


  7. MaryWitzl says:

    Yes, they are! A friend who teaches yoga bought eight brand-new yoga mats to sell to her students. She unwisely stored them in her barn for only a week and mice ate through the corners of all eight mats. Once I’d heard that, I could hardly complain about my tea lights. (Or feel TOO sorry for the rodents my cats tormented.)


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