Looking for the best Solar Lights? With increased cost of life, it is important that we save money in any possible way without having to compromise our standards of the living. One of the major expenses of any household is energy consumption. More and more people have been looking for alternative ways of consuming less energy and thus spending less money. One of the best hassle-free alternatives is solar lights. You’ll be surprised to learn that solar lighting have been in existence for a very long while, even though, their popularity has just gained momentum.
For a long while, now not many people have been interested in solar powered lights in the past because they weren’t so reliable. Many would emit a very dim light and would only last for a couple of hours. However, with the continued advancement in technology, using solar panels for home are now the best alternative to conventional electrical lights that you can choose when you want to light up your premises.
Table of Contents
What are Solar Lights?
A solar light is made up of a lamp, a photovoltaic solar panel, and a rechargeable battery. For an outdoor solar light, the three components will be integrated into one stand-alone unit. The solar panel is used to charge the battery using direct natural light from the sun. The solar panel automatically detects the sun and starts charging the battery and when it gets dark, charging stops. The photovoltaic photocell then detects the absence of the sun and activates the battery which then switches on the light bulb. This entire process is devoid of any human interaction. All you have to do when you purchase your solar kits, solar panel kits, and solar panels is install them where you want to use them and they will do the rest on their own.
It is important to note that solar lights come with different types of lights. Some are fitted with incandescent bulbs, others with fluorescent bulbs, while others have Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) lamps. Before purchasing a solar light confirm which type of lamp it comes with. Incandescent bulbs are not the best choice as they consume a higher level of energy. Solar LED lights are the best bet if you are looking to save energy as they consume way less energy as compared to incandescent bulbs. LED provides provide a bright full spectrum light without consuming so much energy and thus saving up on a charge. Compared to the other types of bulbs, LED bulbs produce less heat, therefore, increasing their lifespan.
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Common Uses of Solar Lights That Meets Your Needs
Solar lighting can be used in several ways depending on what your needs are. Before you purchase this kind of products, such as solar yard lights, solar panels, solar kits, it is important that you understand the type of lights available and how they are used. This way you can buy the lights that fit in with your needs to avoid wasting money. Here are the three most common uses of solar lights:
1. Indoor Lights
Using solar powered in your house is a very smart way to cut down on costs and help in conserving the environment. Conventional electric lights emit a lot of heat and are thus detrimental to the environment. On the other hand, however, solar powered lights especially the LED lights emit very little heat, use less energy and are less helpful to the environment. If you live in areas where the sun is out almost all the time such as Palm Springs then you sure should try using solar-powered indoor lights to light up your house and save up on electricity. In areas where the sun intensity is high, it is very easy to fully rely on solar lights for your indoor lighting needs and just have electric lighting as a backup.
For indoor solar lights, the solar panel is informed of a reflective doom that is strategically placed on the roof where it is in direct contact with the sun without any blocking materials.
Hand Made Solar Plastic Bottle Light Bulb
The solar panel captures natural light charges the battery and then transfers the light to the light bulb to light up a dark room. Indoor lights will need some wiring that can easily be done by a professional. You can pick any decorative lamps and bulbs that you desire and place them anywhere in your house.
The most common use of solar lights is to light up the outdoors. Outdoor lights, unlike indoor lights, do not need any wiring. They are very easy to install and you can do all the work on your own. You can use outdoor lights for security purposes, to light up your deck or simply to illuminate your outdoor space when you need to walk outside.
The solar outdoor light battery charges using the sun’s light energy during the day and lights up at night when it gets dark. You can choose to buy outdoor hanging lights, wall mounted outdoor lamps or low post lamps and place them wherever you want to use them. When installing the lights ensure that they are in a place where they are in direct contact with the sun for better charging.
Cheap Outdoor Solar Powered Light Set Up
Where to use solar garden lights: Decks, staircases, outdoor walls, patios, entrance ways etc.
Do you have a large garden with beautiful plants that you want to stay illuminated even at night? Or are you planning to have an evening garden party and your garden is too plain? Glam it up with garden lights. Solar garden lights are wireless and easy to install. It doesn’t matter if you want to use them every evening or just some evenings, you can install and uninstall them as much as you desire.
The best thing about garden lights is that they now come in very interesting decorative designs and some even mimic real plants and animals. Some come in a form of flowers, birds, fruit trees etc. so you can have your own artificial flower garden made up of lights! You can also choose to have clears lights or boldly colored ones to add to the fun. Just make sure the lights complement your garden. You can also use garden lights to mark spots in your garden that one may trip over or hit themselves on such as rocks, gazebos, ponds, walls etc.
Solar Garden Light Installation Diagram
How to build a monster bright LED garden solar light
Where to use solar garden lights: pool area, fence, railing, gazebos, perimeter walls etc.
4. Landscape/Pathway Lights
Just as suggested by the name, these are small solar lights that are used to light up pathways at night. They do not necessarily need to be as bright as other outdoor lights such as the security lights. You will need several lamps depending on how long your pathway is. Most of the pathway lights come in a set of several lamps and are made of die case metal which is weatherproof for durability. You, therefore, don’t have to worry if it is raining or snowing, your lights will remain functional throughout the year. If your pathways are long going for lamppost landscape lights. These can be as tall as you want them to be and will provide a bright light that will illuminate your entire landscape not only making it beautiful but providing your desired level of light and not forgetting in a green manner safe for your environment.
When installing your landscape/pathway lights consider the geography of your home. Remember that for the lights to work at full brightness they have to be well charged during the day so ensure that the light’s solar panel is not being obscured by the sun so that it can absorb maximum amount of sunlight otherwise the lights will be very dim and not last all night. If your area is full of trees and surrounding buildings, solar powered pathway lights may not be the best option for you.
Solar Powered Landscape Lighting Ideas
Where to use solar pathway lights: walkways, driveways, the main gate etc.
Pros and Cons of Solar Lights
- While everything has an advantage and a disadvantage, solar energy are more beneficial than they are detrimental compared to the conventional electricity lighting sources. The only major disadvantage of solar generator is that since they are dependent on natural light energy, their success in functioning is fully dependent on how well they are charged. This may be a problem for people who live in areas where the sun doesn’t shine as bright.
- Another disadvantage of solar lights is that they rely on fully charged batteries. The everyday charging of the battery increases its wear and tear. This means that you will need to change batteries every now and then.
- They are hassle free: Solar indoor/outdoor lighting are very easy to install and apart from the indoor lights that require a bit of wiring the other types of solar panels do not. It is, therefore, quite easy for you to install them yourself anywhere, anytime.
- You will always have light: Since the solar panels get their light from the sun which is a renewable energy you will always have reliable light any day any time, just ensure that your solar panel is always charged.
- No digging up trenches: When lighting up you’re outdoors you do not need to dig up trenches to put up cables because as mentioned led outdoor lighting do not any wiring to function.
- They are safe: Since no cables are necessary for the outdoor lights you can comfortably install them near ponds or swimming pools. You know what you can even have floating lamps in your swimming pool without any fear of electrocution!
So why Choose Solar Lights?
As already seen the major reason, why you should choose solar lights as an alternative to electrical lights, is due its ease of installation and use. But what other reasons should make you choose these technology lights?
Solar lights are both decorative and functional. Implementing then in your home, both indoors and outdoors, will exponentially save you a large amount of money in power bills. Solar lighting energy is practically free. All, you have to buy, are the solar panels for home and from then on you will have no other cost.
They are environmentally friendly. Solar lights do not emit a lot of heat and therefore do not release harmful components into the air. If you are looking to go green with your lighting then you should definitely choose LED solar lighting technology.
They are available anywhere. Since the sun is available anywhere in the world, well save for Antarctica, you can install these lights anywhere you want and use them whenever you want.
They are durable. Well, this will truly depend on the manufacturer but if you go for the genuine ones you will get lights that are weatherproof and therefore durable despite the weather type.
Battery backup. Solar lights come with battery backup for those days when the sun is not shining bright enough to charge the solar panel. Mostly the backup battery should run for about two to three days. Just make sure that when the sun is back up you charge all your batteries including the backup, we always forget to charge the backup!
How To Install Solar Lights System At Home?
How do I Take Care of my Solar Lighting?
Just because there is little to no human interaction required it does not mean that you should totally forget that your solar lights exist. Every once in a while you should do some simple maintenance to ensure that the lights continue working as desired.
First and foremost always check if the lights are well placed for optimal absorption of sunlight. Never forget that they need the sun to function. So if you have overgrown trees that are casting a shadow on the solar panels, trim them.
Secondly it is important to clean your lights periodically especially the outdoor lights. If you leave your outdoor lights unclean for long periods dust and mud will accumulate lowering the light’s ability to store energy. This will in turn make the lamp shine less bright. To clean your lights use a non-erosive soap, a soft sponge, and some water.
If you are not using your outdoor lights all the times, let say you only need them occasionally when you are hosting a party, store them indoors when you are not using them. This will increase their durability. For the deck or entrance way lights that may not be exposed to harsh weather and may not necessarily require to be stored inside, switch them off when they are not in use. For indoor lights ensure you switch them off during the day to save power.
Also, every now and then check if the lighting systems are working fine. Check for any broken pieces and make any necessary repairs. If you have pets they may chew on wires or break a lamp so ensure you go round checking your lights and replace what needs to be replaced.
Do not forget the battery. If you have used your battery for long periods of time say between three to five years you may want to consider changing it. As mentioned earlier the battery does get old with time and therefore becomes less powerful. To continue having bright shining lights, change your battery whenever necessary. Lastly don’t forget the brightest light, choose solar LED lights using LED technology.
The advantages are so many simply giving you no reason not to adopt Solar Energy. For whatever home lighting problem you have, you can rest assured that solar lights will solve it for you in a green, safe, beautiful and affordable way!
Solar terminology can be confusing at times, that’s why I’m giving you the following short list, if you’re stuck wondering what a certain term means, use it:
Activation voltage: The voltage at which a charge controller will take action to protect the batteries.
Alternating current (AC): Electrical current the direction of which is reversed at regular intervals or cycles. In the United States, the standard is 120 reversals or 60 cycles per second.
Ampere (amp): A unit of electrical current or rate of flow of electrons. One volt across one ohm of resistance causes a current flow of one ampere.
Ampere-hour (Ah/AH): A measure of the flow of current (in amperes) over one hour; used to measure battery capacity.
Angle of incidence: The angle that a ray of sun makes with a line perpendicular to the surface. For example, a surface that directly faces the sun has a solar angle of incidence of zero, but if the surface is parallel to the sun (for example, sunrise striking a horizontal rooftop), the angle of incidence is 90°.
Array current: The electrical current produced by a photovoltaic array when it is exposed to sunlight.
Array operating voltage: The voltage produced by a photovoltaic array when exposed to sunlight and connected to a load.
Battery cycle life: The number of cycles, to a specified depth of discharge, that a cell or battery can undergo before failing to meet its specified capacity or efficiency performance criteria.
Blocking Diode: A solid-state component installed between the solar module and the battery. It prevents the solar panel from discharging the battery in the absence of sunlight. It can be thought of as a one-way valve that allows electrons to flow forwards, but not backwards.Bimodal PV (photovoltaic) system: A PV system that can call upon stored power from its own battery or, when needed, from an electric grid (utility).
Bypass diode: A diode connected across one or more solar cells in a photovoltaic module so that the diode will conduct if the cells become reverse-biased. It protects these solar cells from thermal destruction in total or partial shading of individual solar cells while other cells are exposed to full light.
Charge controller: A device that regulates battery charge by controlling the charging voltage and/or current from a direct-current (DC) power source, such as a PV array.
Cloud enhancement: The increase in solar intensity caused by reflected irradiance from nearby clouds.
Concentrator: A photovoltaic module that includes optical components such as lenses to direct and concentrate sunlight onto a solar cell of smaller area. Most concentrator arrays must directly face or track the sun. They can increase the power flux of sunlight hundreds of times.
Conversion efficiency: The ratio of the electric power produced by a PV device to the power of the sunlight shining on the device. Cell efficiency defines how much energy in sunlight is actually converted into electricity.
Days of storage: The number of consecutive days the stand-alone system will meet a defined load without solar energy input. This term is related to system availability.
Direct-coupled PV system: A system in which the output of a PV module or array is directly connected to a DC load (a device that uses DC power).
Direct current (DC): Electrical current that flows in one direction through the conductor. To be used for typical 120 volt or 220 volt household appliances, DC must be converted to alternating current.
Distributed generation: A system in which many smaller power-generating systems create electrical power near the point of consumption.
Dopant: A chemical element (impurity) added in small amounts to an otherwise pure semiconductor material to modify the electrical properties of the material. An n-dopant introduces more electrons. A p-dopant creates electron vacancies (holes).
Downtime: Time when the photovoltaic system cannot provide power for the load. Usually expressed in hours per year or that percentage.
Dual metering: Measuring separately the energy exported to and imported from the utility grid.
Electric current: The flow of electrical energy (electricity) in a conductor, measured in amperes.
Electrolyzer: An electrochemical device that channels an electric current through water to break down water molecules and extract their components, hydrogen and oxygen.
Fixed tilt array: A photovoltaic array set in at a fixed angle with respect to horizontal.
Flat-plate array: A PV array that consists of non-concentrating PV modules.
Flat-plate collector: A solar energy collector that absorbs solar energy on a flat surface, without concentrating it, and can utilize solar radiation directly from the sun as well as radiation that is reflected or scattered by clouds and other surfaces.
Fuel cell: An electrochemical device that uses hydrogen and oxygen to produce DC electricity, with water and heat as byproducts.
Full sun: The amount of power density in sunlight received at the earth’s surface at noon on a clear day (about 1,000 watts/square meter).
Generator: A device that converts mechanical energy into electricity by means of electromagnetic induction. (A shaft bearing permanent magnets is turned, and the changing magnetic field creates an electrical current in a surrounding wire coil.)
Grid: A utility’s network of conductors, substations, and equipment that distributes electricity from its central generation point to the consumer.
Hole: The vacancy where an electron would normally exist in a solid; behaves like a positively charged particle.
Hybrid system: A system that includes an energy source other than a solar array and (if interactive) the utility. Examples include wind and diesel power.
Integrator: A business that designs, builds, and installs complete PV systems for particular applications by matching components from various manufacturers.
Inverter: A device that converts DC power from battery systems or arrays to utility-grade alternating current (AC) power for AC loads or export to the utility grid.
Islanding: The undesirable condition in which an interactive inverter supplies power to the utility grid during a utility outage.
Joule: A metric unit of energy or work; 1 joule per second equals 1 watt or 0.737 foot-pounds; 1 Btu equals 1,055 joules.
Kilowatt (kW): A standard unit of electrical power equal to 1000 watts, or to the energy consumption at a rate of 1000 joules per second.
Kilowatt-hour (kWh): 1,000 thousand watts acting over a period of 1 hour. The kWh is a unit of energy. 1 kWh=3600 kJ.
Life-cycle cost: The estimated cost of owning and operating a photovoltaic system for the period of its useful life.
Load: The demand on an energy producing system; the energy consumption or requirement of a piece or group of equipment. Usually expressed in terms of amperes or watts in reference to electricity.
Maximum power point (MPP): The point on the current-voltage (I-V) curve of a module under illumination, where the product of current and voltage is maximum. For a typical silicon cell, this is at about 0.45 volts.
Module: The smallest environmentally protected, essentially planar assembly of solar cells and ancillary parts, such as interconnections, terminals, [and protective devices such as diodes] intended to generate direct current power under unconcentrated sunlight. The structural (load carrying) member of a module can either be the top layer (superstrate) or the back layer (substrate).
Net metering: A metering arrangement where any excess energy exported to the utility is subtracted from the cost of the amount of energy imported from it.
Photovoltaic cell: The smallest semiconductor element that converts sunlight into electricity. Each cell is made of silicon or another semiconductive material, like a computer chip. The silicon is treated so that it generates a flow of electricity when light shines on it.
PV array: An system of interconnected PV modules that function as a single electricity-producing unit. In smaller systems, an array can consist of a single module.
Rectifier: A device that converts AC power to DC power.
Resistance (R): The property of a conductor that opposes the flow of an electric current resulting in the generation of heat in the conducting material. The resistance is specified in ohms.
Solar module: Solar modules, or panels, are series of solar cells wired together into strings and enclosed in self-contained glass units for weather protection.
Self-regulating PV system: A type of stand-alone system that uses no active control systems to protect the battery, except through careful design and component sizing.
Semiconductor: Any material that has a limited capacity for conducting an electric current. Certain semiconductors, including silicon, gallium arsenide, copper indium diselenide, and cadmium telluride, are uniquely suited to the photovoltaic conversion process.
Silicon (Si): A semi-metallic chemical element that makes an excellent semiconductor material for photovoltaic devices. It crystallizes in face-centered cubic lattice, like a diamond. It’s commonly found as the oxide in sand and quartz.
Solar Energy: Electromagnetic energy transmitted from the sun (solar radiation). The amount that reaches the earth is equal to one billionth of total solar energy generated, or the equivalent of about 420 trillion kilowatt-hours.
Stand-alone PV system: A type of PV system that operates autonomously and supplies power to electrical loads independently of the electric utility.
Tilt angle: The angle at which a photovoltaic array is set to face the sun relative to a horizontal position. The tilt angle can be set or adjusted to maximize seasonal or annual energy collection.
Uninterruptible power supply (UPS): A battery-based system that includes all the additional power conditioning equipment, such as inverters and charge controllers, to make a complete, self-contained AC power source.
Utility-interactive PV system: A PV system that is connected to the electric utility grid and that can use or export power to the grid.
Volt (V): A unit of electrical force equal to that amount of electromotive force that will cause a steady current of one ampere to flow through a resistance of one ohm.
Watt: The rate of energy transfer equivalent to one ampere under an electrical pressure of one volt. One watt equals 1/746 horsepower, or one joule per second. It is the product of voltage and current (amperage).
Zenith angle: The angle between the direction of interest (of the sun, for example) and the zenith (directly overhead).
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