He originally pictured rope lights that homeowners could wrap around fences or mail boxes in places that were harder to reach with extension cords. It was just white rope lights to start, and then he branched into LED bulbs. Then he realized that people wanted them for Christmas.
So, this year, Flipo.com is selling solar-powered LED Christmas strands.
The lights aren’t available in stores. They’re only on the website, Phlippeau said, and occasionally available on QVC and The Home Shopping Network.
They’ve turned out to be much more popular than Phlippeau ever imagined. He sold 10,000 strands after a single showing on QVC, he said.
And the popularity is growing. Last week, he sold 100 strands overnight off of the website.
“That’s a lot for our little site,” Phlippeau said.
The lights are attached to a small monocrystalline solar panel that Phlippeau found for an affordable price in China. The panel charges a small battery pack that lasts 10 to 12 hours after a sunny day and a hefty four hours after a dreary overcast day.
Phlippeau said they can last longer. He’s seen them go from sun down to sun up on some of winter’s longest nights.
“I like to under-promise and over-deliver,” he said of the time estimations.
The lights are also attached to a light sensor, and they switch on when it gets dark and flip back off either when they run out of juice or the sun returns.
“Most people have their Christmas lights on a timer anyway,” Phlippeau said. “This is like an automatic timer you don’t have to set.”
The biggest benefit the lights offer homeowners is that they don’t need to be plugged in. So there is no messing with extension cords and power supplies, Phlippeau said.
He expects the holiday season to be the biggest season for the lights, though they can be used for everyday outdoor lighting.