I’ve seen them around, these fake candles, at the Red Stag Supper Club, and while I was getting a massage down the street at Spot. It seemed odd, a candle that looked like a candle but wasn’t. A flame that flickered without an actual flame. I thought, why aren’t these places using real candles? It seemed cheap, and a little kitschy.
But then I did some research that shed some, ahem, light on the matter. They’re called Smart Candles, and they’re made by a Minnesota company who wanted to develop lighting that’s soft and natural-looking, but also eco-friendly and energy efficient. Smart Candles use rechargeable LEDs (light-emitting diodes, which consume less than a quarter of the electricity that fluorescent lighting does) to generate a long-lasting flickering light that simulates a candle flame. They turn on with the flip of a tiny switch at the base of the candle and last 10 hours when fully charged. Without the wax and flame, Smart Candles are also safe. You can use them indoors and outdoors, near other materials like paper and wood, and, as a mommy co-worker pointed out to me—around children.
I’m still not a complete convert. I like the glow of tapers on my dining room table, and the smell of scented candles when I’m nesting. But this summer I’ll be using these votives on the porch and deck for a low-maintenance glow. I won’t have to worry about them setting fire to my lawn, melting onto my teak table, or replacing them as the night goes on. I feel smarter already.