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Solar Lights Information

By Edited Dec 19, 2015 1 1

Are you looking for more information on solar lights? Your landscaped yard does not just have to be enjoyed and admired during daylight hours, with the right lighting it can be just as attractive during the hours of darkness.

There are two approaches that you can adopt: conventional wired lights or solar lights. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, so you may want to install both types of lighting in your yard. Wired lighting uses either domestic 120 volt fixtures directly, or lower voltage units powered by a transformer. 120 volts in an outdoor setting can present an electric shock hazard, so it is essential that your installation meets the electrical codes in your area. You will probably want to use a licensed electrician. High voltage systems let you use very bright lights, 100 watt or brighter floodlights, suitable for security purposes, or illuminating the higher branches of trees.

For do-it-yourself installation you may prefer to use either low voltage lighting and buy a kit consisting of a transformer and a number of light fixtures. The transformer unit is plugged into an outside outlet and heavy gauge is buried underground to connect the lights. If this seems like too much work, there is another option: solar lighting. Solar garden lights offers great flexibility. You can have as few or as many lights as you want, and spread them over a wide area without digging trenches to bury cables.

Solar lights come in two forms: lights with integrated batteries and solar cells and stand-alone panels that are wired to a small cluster of nearby lights, each with their own battery. A solar light charges its battery during the day and turns on as soon as it gets dark. No timer control is needed. How long the lights stay illuminated depends upon the amount of sunlight, the wattage of the light, the size of the solar panel and the capacity of the rechargeable battery. Units are designed to provide from four to eight hours lighting under typical conditions. Unfortunately, on short cloudy winter days, the units may only store enough power to last for an hour or two, not enough time to impress your guests as they leave your New Year's Eve party.

Even a few years ago, solar garden lights were expensive, short lived and only provided low-level lighting. New technologies, such as higher efficiency solar panels, NiMH batteries and LED bulbs can now provide brilliant lighting all night long. You can save money by buying a package with multiple lights, and the cost of solar technology has dramatically fallen over the last few years, and that trend is expected to continue. No lighting system is maintenance free. Incandescent floodlights have a relatively short lifetime and may need to be replaced several times a year.

High efficiency LED bulbs last much longer, and soon will have comparable costs to traditional bulbs. Rechargeable batteries used in solar lighting also need to be replaced. It is best to buy a solar package that uses a standard form factor battery size such as A, C, D or AA, so that you are able to buy new batteries over the years ahead, and not be dependent on the manufacturer of the solar lighting kit. Be sure to replace batteries not just with the same size, but also the same battery technology, since the charger circuit will only work with the right type of battery.

Many people find solar lights provide a reliable, inexpensive and easy to install solution for landscape illumination.


Feb 1, 2010 10:07pm
Good tips on solar lights.
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