Pros:Simple to use, rechargeable or solar powered, motion activated to conserve battery power
Cons:Jury is still out on it's overall effectivness
The Bottom Line: Jury still out on Bell & Howell Solar Animal Repeller. My gut says it does little to chase pests away. Results which may be due to other factors say otherwise.
I've decided to review the Bell and Howell Solar Animal Repeller - Model 50104 that my wife purchased to keep the squirrels from causing any further destruction of our backyard lawn. This review continues the pattern of products over the years that my wife found and brought home as a testament to American product advertising and marketing. I have to say, sometimes she hits a home run but other times she takes a called third strike... For the past several seasons, squirrels have decided my back yard was a great place to play their favorite game "Captain Blythe buries his acorn treasure". My back lawn which backs up to a wooded area was marked with a countless number of dug up spots where the grass had been pulled away and finding an acorn treasure in some of the holes. I had personally lost interest in the game from the very beginning.
Recommend this product?
The unit is designed to either be mounted on a wall or it may be placed anywhere in the ground by using the mounting stakes that are included with the device. The manufacturer added two anchors and mounting screws in the box for owners that prefer to hang the machine on a wall or other flat surface. Once the anchors and screws are installed, simply hang the repeller on the two wall mount holes on the rear of the device. We chose to stake our animal repeller into the ground. By connecting either one or two of the plastic stakes to the included spike, depending on the desired height, you can easily set the unit directly on top. The device does stay securely on the stake... ours has been through some terrible wind storms and rains. When I am cutting the lawn, I simply pull up the entire unit and stake in one piece and stick the staked device back into the sod when I am done.
This particular gadget emits an ultrasonic, high frequency sound once the unit's motion detector is activated by a passing pest. The detector is designed to work either day or night. The design is specifically designed to be both safe for the animal population and humane to both those wild intruders and family pets that may enter the area. The manufacturer's claim is it is effective as far as 30 feet away. We placed our Bell and Howell Solar Animal Repeller staked in the middle of our back yard about 20 feet from the woods and facing the area where most of the damage has occurred. Pointing as we did, will set off the sound in the area most likely to see activity and also allowed the most direct sunlight to assist in recharging the machine's batteries just as the instructions suggested. I have noticed the machine work as shown by the red led that lights when the repeller is in the process of emitting sound but the sound is completely unnoticeable with our human ears. Since placing this machine out in our yard early this spring, we have noticed an undeniable decrease in squirrel activity. What I find somewhat harder to determine is the amount of credit I can associate with the Bell and Howell 50104. Our very mature oaks did not drop anywhere near a normal amount of acorns this season so much of the decrease has to be attributed to this fact. This caveat aside, we do regularly still see squirrels back in the woods but they have rarely ventured into the yard as they have in the past.
The unit is powered by either the four rechargeable AA batteries Bell and Howell included with the box or four regular alkaline AA batteries. If you decide to use the rechargeable batteries, set the switch in the battery compartment to the corresponding setting and allow the solar panel and direct sunlight to recharge the batteries automatically. Since we placed the unit early this spring, the batteries have remained charged and the unit only receives direct sunlight for a portion of the day. The fact that the repeller is motion activated, prolongs the alkaline battery life or need for the unit to recharge it's batteries on it's own.
The 50104 Solar Repeller is weather tight. After a full season out on the lawn, neither the natural elements or water from our underground irrigation system have harmed the box in any way.
I avoided calling my wife a sap when she dropped an Andrew Jackson, that's $20.00, on our Bell and Howell Solar Animal Repeller although my gut was suggesting she got taken. This would be a fair price if I could say without certainty that the device was actually performing it's claimed function. Our strictly anecdotal evidence of reduced squirrel activity suggests that the machine is doing it's job. The fact our mature oaks didn't produce a huge amount of acorns this year makes it difficult to completely buy into the the claim that the reduced squirrel activity was a direct result of this repeller. Until I feel comfortable fully supporting the claims of the manufacturer, I'll leave three stars and an Epinions No buy rating only because I'd hate to steer consumer's to a still unproven device.
I will update some time into the 2012 season if and when we experience a more robust acorn drop from our oaks so I can make an apples to apples comparison and determine if our little game of hide the acorn is really over for good.
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