When the daylight hours grow shorter, we turn our attention to the different forms of solar outdoor lighting, which can be beautiful. We’re not talking about those electric systems that are hard to install either. We are talking about solar lighting.
Is this something you are familiar with? It’s easy to install solar lighting – in fact, it’s so easy that almost anyone will be able to set it up. It’s also easy to forget about because all you have to do is flip a switch to get them going. They will charge on even days that are cloudy. Also, you don’t have to worry about them increasing your electric bill, which is a major bonus.
Need we say more or are you sold?
Installing solar outdoor lighting
Are you here because you are interested in installing solar outdoor lighting in your yard? We understand that this can be a difficult process because there are so many different forms of solar lighting on the market. Today, through this buyers guide to solar garden lighting, we are here to give you our personal advice that will push you in the right direction.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve noticed that the availability of sun-powered lighting has increased more than ever. Today, you have more choices in terms of styles and capabilities than you’ve ever had before.
For illuminating your patio, garden, or walkway, solar lights are an excellent option. Hence, we’re sure you already know this. Not only does this create a beautiful warm ambiance and show off your homes lovely architectural features, but it also ensures security and safety.
Why Should You Go Solar?
Why wouldn’t you want to go solar? There are so many positive aspects involved in going solar. Solar outdoor lighting requires none form of hard-wiring, which means it is easy to install. It’s so easy that someone with no experience should be able to install it. You also have to consider that there is no form of electricity costs associated with solar lighting. Which means it will only going to require an upfront price for the lighting itself. There may be times when you need an occasional battery, but that’s nothing big.
In this section of the buyer’s guide, we will look at the additional benefits of going solar …
No Outlet Required
One of the obvious reasons you would want to use solar outdoor lighting would be that it doesn’t require the main outlet to power them. Instead, these lights have tiny solar panels built into them that use the sunlight to charge a battery. Depending on the solar lights you choose, many of them store enough charge through the day to offer illumination all night long ( up to 10 hours). Well, this varies base on the weather conditions as well as the positioning of the solar panels.
Being that no outlet is required, this is convenient as you can install your solar outdoor lighting wherever they needed. Without having to worry about the proximity to a power source. As an additional benefit, when there’s an event of a power outage, your solar lights will continue to work. Solar lights are also a great choice for lighting around swimming pools as you don’t have to worry about an extension cord.
Cost Effective Solar Outdoor Lighting
Yes, this is something we mentioned earlier, but we feel the need to mention it again. One of the biggest benefits of using solar lights in your garden is it is cost effective. There are cost-saving benefits offered in three different ways.
First, it’s cheaper than electrical garden lights. Second, they are super easy to use and need not to pay any form of installation fee to have them installed. Third, they run on solar power, so they will not add to the electricity bill.
For these reasons, solar powered lights are a cheap and effective way for you to light your garden and yard. In addition, having the ability to set up the lights in almost any area means they do not limit you to where you place your lights to have your social gathering.
If you are looking for more ways to reduce your carbon footprint, then solar yard lights would be a great place to start. Since these garden lights charge throughout the day from the sun, when the sun disappears, they will run off of the energy stored during the day. This means that you will be able to light those gardens throughout the night. Consuming no additional energy – isn’t that good news?
When you light a garden with electric lights for a large amount of time, you’ll see a large increase in energy consumption. By getting solar outdoor lighting in your yard and combining them with solar-powered appliances in your house, you will be able to live in a way that is way better for the environment. You are reducing the cost of your energy bill.
Safe to Use
On a general note, solar lighting has a tendency to be safer to use than electric garden lights. Since solar lights lack cables, they are a great choice for temporary installations at cookouts. This means you won’t have to worry about the little ones tripping over exposed cables from the traditional lighting options. Yes, there are lanterns and candles you can use, but those aren’t as safe as solar lights. Candles and lanterns post a fire hazard, solar lights do not.
In addition, for those that use electric lights in their garden, they’re more likely to switch the lights off when they are sleeping or away on vacation. Which isn’t a good thing. As a result, it leaves the garden dark during the night, which gives an opportunity for thieves to break into the grounds. Solar lights are there to illuminate the grounds all night, every night, regardless of where the homeowner is.
Large Amount of Styles to Choose From
Have you taken the time to look at the different solar lights that are available? There are so many different styles and colors you can choose from. Regardless of your use and reason for getting solar lights, you will be able to find something that fits your needs.
Types of Solar Lighting
As we previously stated, there are many different styles to choose from. In this section of the guide, we’re going to introduce you to the different types of solar garden lighting …
This is low-level lighting, often colored. As a benefit, they offer a long running time. They are great for marking a feature in a garden, nice ambient lighting and marking hazards, like ponds.
This consists of lights strung together on one cable. Many people turn to string lighting because they like how they can just string it up like they would Christmas lights. You can place string lights on hedges and fences. You can also drape them around the porch. Personally, we believe they would make great party decorations so that you can use them to light your garden up to your guests.
Yes, even solar powered spotlight exists. These just so happen to be the brightest form of solar outdoor lighting on the market. Often times, you can mount them on the wall, which is okay if your garden is near a wall. While spotlights can light up the garden, many people use them for security purposes and marking features. Spotlights also have a tendency to have an adjustable beam and the ability to shine in any direction you need.
These are also a popular choice for homeowners. Stake them in the ground or hang them on hooks. We like to stick the path lights in the ground, but there is a wide range of positioning options to choose from. With path lights, in terms of placement, you can be creative. Usually, with path lights, the light focuses downwards. Path lights are great for lighting paths and stairways. They are also useful for marking the perimeter of the garden.
Consider the Location
Solar lights need not be near any form of an electrical outlet (that’s good news). Consider the fact that they need to be exposed to direct sunlight. This is because they are equipped with a solar cell that converts the energy from the sunlight into electricity. If you put the solar yard light in a shady area where the sun doesn’t shine, it may not get the proper amount of energy it needs to power the light all night long. The power is stored in rechargeable batteries, which allows the lights to come on at the night and glow throughout.
The time the lights stay on will all depend on how many hours of sunlight they received, so the operating time will obviously going to depend on the season, location and weather.
Solar outdoor lighting kits
Most solar lighting kits require eight hours of sunlight to be able to last through the night. In addition, solar outdoor lighting doesn’t require a whole lot of maintenance, but it would be best you install them where you can rest with the satisfaction of knowing they are getting sufficient daytime light, and keep them free of debris and dirt.
Alternatively, if you have a shaded backyard, solar lighting still an open option for you. You can buy remote solar panels (these will cost more, but come in handy) to collect the sun’s energy to power the lights you have installed in shaded areas. It can transmit the charge to the fixture via a small wire.
When you’re looking for solar outdoor lighting, many people just buy the first thing they come across. However, you should first do your research before you buy it. Start out with the batteries, some are better than others. We recommend those with lithium-ion or nickel-metal hydride batteries. Li-ion batteries, in our opinion, are the best option.
The battery life is long lasting and they aren’t bothered by extreme temperatures. They may cost a tad bit more, but they are well worth the additional cost. Then you have NiMH batteries – those are another great choice because they have long-lasting lives. Plus, these type of batteries are less expensive and they have a greater diversity of product styles. There’s a variety of other battery types used for solar lights, like AA to nickel cadmium to lead.
Go for LED Bulbs
Known fact – most solar lights run on LED bulbs, but you should always check the product information, just to make sure. We like LED bulbs because they have a tendency to last longer and are more energy efficient. This is because they create light without producing a whole lot of heat, which prevents burnouts. Yes, a normal incandescent bulb could last for 1,000-2,000 hours. An LED bulb will easily last between 25,000 – 50,000 hours, so as you can see, that is quite a difference. We understand, LED lights may not be as bright, but they definitely are strong enough to illuminate the garden area.
Avoid Lightweight Plastic Solar Lights
Take it from us, you should avoid those lightweight plastic garden lights. Especially if you live in a seasonal climate. This means during the summer, it could easily reach 100 degrees and during the winter, you could get a couple of feet of snow. If this sounds like your environment, definitely avoid plastic path lights. Instead, go for those that have a more durable aluminum casing. Also, before making the purchase, make sure you check the product details. Make sure they have a powder coated finish in order to keep moisture from the lights and to prevent rust.
Mono-Crystalline Solar Panels
If you don’t mind putting some extra money towards a sophisticated solar lighting system, maybe you are interested in monocrystalline solar panels as opposed to the polycrystalline ones. Mono-crystalline solar panels are a better option because they can convert sunshine into power more effectively than those that have smaller panels. Also made from a single piece of silicon.
Adjusting the Angle
When you are looking for solar garden lighting, make sure you consider the angle of the garden lights. Free-standing solar panels will allow you to adjust them along with the changing angle of the sun. As you learned in grade school, there’s a tilt of the earth’s axis and for this reason, the angle of the sunlight changes, creating four seasons.
Take the fall as an example, during this time, the sun is sinking lower, so the angle is more shallow. For this reason, a freestanding solar panel will charge more effectively if you place it at a 45-degree angle. Then, during the summer, the sun is at its steepest, so a 15-degree angle will work best. During the winter, the sun is at its lowest, so we recommend a 60-degree angle.
Many people like to place their garden lights near reflective surfaces and we believe this is a good idea. Having the ability to place lights near a water feature or white surface is great. Plus, you have to consider the fact that extra light reflects from these surfaces onto the panel. That can magnify the energy output by up to 75%.
If you would like a softer look, you should space the lights approximately 8 feet apart. If you would like a stronger illumination, you should put them closer, like 4 feet apart.
Have decided to go for solar outdoor lighting in your backyard or garden? Well, you are making a wise choice. If you pay attention to the type of battery and solar panels you should do just fine.