If you are a homeowner considering outdoor lighting, then you have probably heard about solar landscape lighting. In addition to being environmentally friendly, solar lighting is an alternative cost-efficient means of lighting up your outdoor space. Setting up these types of maintenance-free lights is virtually quick and painless, not requiring any wiring or professional expertise to install. These lights primarily use LED bulbs which contributes to low energy consumption and longer bulb lifespan.
Solar lights are akin to mini- satellites, generating and storing their own power during the day and releasing it at night. The only prerequisite for effective functioning of solar lights is that they be placed in areas where sunlight is abundantly available. Alternately, the solar panel or controller board which charges the lights can be placed in an area where it will receive sunlight throughout the day, irrespective of the season. These lights need sunlight for 12-14 hours every day to remain effective.
A solar yard light uses standard solar cells in a very straightforward application.
The solar cells are wired directly to the battery through a light emitting diode which prevents the battery’s current from flowing back through the solar cell during the night. The battery charges during the daytime, and will meet its maximum charge before dusk. A photovoltaic cell then changes the sun’s light into electricity. Although environmental factors affect the performance of solar lights they will work outdoors throughout most of the year.
Many solar lights are self-sustaining, or “stand-alone” systems. These convert sunlight into electricity during the day, store the electricity in batteries, and draw from the batteries to power light fixtures after dusk.
Self-contained solar lights often have panels built right into the light fixtures. Solar lighting systems with panels separate from fixture assemblies, however, allow for only the panels to be placed in the sun, not the lights themselves.
Common residential applications for solar lights include patio, garden and pathway lighting. Residential solar lights are often self-contained components that attach to stakes or posts that are plunged directly into the ground. Commercial applications can include parking lot lighting, sidewalks, campground fixtures and other secluded locations. Below are some outdoor solar light application types, all of which can be found on the Louie Lighting website:
- Solar Spot Accent Lights: These are placed lower to the ground, and focus upwards. They are used to high-light trees, shrubs, statuary and other features in the landscape. These types of lights include in-ground lights which are placed to mark pathways and driveways on the property.
- Solar Pathway Lights: These include step and brick lights and lower level solar lights that focus downwards to avoid glare. They are used to light up steps and obstacles on the ground and are helpful in avoiding mishaps.
- Solar Deck and Patio Lights: These are used to light up the area around decks and patios. They are used to create an ambience for outdoor use, parties and get-togethers.
- Solar Hanging Lights or Solar Pendant Lights: These are hung from ceilings or walls and provide illumination to patios, decks and other areas.
- Solar Lamp Post lights are placed along walkways, fences, railings or balconies to provide ambient lighting at night, and are positioned on top of lamp-posts.
- Solar Security Lights: are large-area flood lights and small but distinct warning lights. While flood lights are usually connected to motion sensors so that they turn on when they detect movement, warning lights are designed to operate continuously with a blinking light for 15-20 nights at a stretch.
- Solar Mood Decorative Lights: These are mostly hanging or upright standing lights. They either contain bulbs or lenses of varied colors, or ornamental accessories such as a provision to place shrubs and plants upon. As the name suggests, they are used for decorative purposes.
Hints and Tips
When installing solar lighting, apart from abundant sunlight, care should also be taken to see that the lights are not placed in the path of lawn-mowers or vehicles (unless they are specially designed in-ground lights meant for driveways). Before driving the stake into the ground for installation, dampen the soil to make it more malleable.
Further, purchase a larger number of lights for the same amount of illumination in comparison with other lights that run on electricity. Solar lighting still maintains a low-cost appeal due to their long life span and lack of operational expenses.