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Solar Powered Outdoor Lights - New Options in Solar Powered Outdoor Lights

lighting yard unit battery

Solar powered outdoor lighting has finally come of age. Early models were expensive and unattractive, but now the price is coming down and this option is within the reach of the average homeowner. Those who decided against solar yard lighting a few years ago because of the high prices and lack of variety may want to reconsider now.

A few years ago solar power was so inefficient that it really wasn’t practical for home use. While solar cells have been used in space satellites since the 1950’s, the idea of bringing them into the average home, even for small jobs, was pure science fiction. Besides, when there was plenty of power to be had from the grid, there was little incentive to make improvements in solar power.

Now the 21st century has arrived, the technology is improving and solar powered lighting for the yard seems like a good option. It’s good for the environment and for the homeowner’s pocketbook, and it’s a lot less trouble to install than conventional lighting.

This last point should not be underestimated. With conventional outdoor lighting, one of the main issues is where to put the wires. They’re expensive to install, and they make a small blemish on an otherwise beautiful yard or garden. Of course you want to conceal them, but when you do, you run the risk that they will be hit by a careless hoe or lawnmower.

With solar powered outdoor lighting, there are no wires. Installation is as easy as picking a spot and sticking the light there. If you decide you want to move the light later, it’s no problem.

Once the light has been placed, the owner can forget about it. New models have lifetimes of about 100,000 hours, as opposed to about 3,000 hours for conventional lights. Since the mechanism is really very simple, technical problems are rare.

There are a few things homeowners can do to maximize the effectiveness of their solar lighting fixtures. The placement of the units in the yard is important, and can greatly effect how well they perform. By understanding how these units work, the homeowner can select the best place to put their lights.

A solar lighting fixture performs different jobs during the course of a day. When the sun is shining, the solar cell converts it into electricity. This power is passed through a diode, a device that allows it to pass in one direction only. In this way, the current is directed into a small battery. Today’s solar cells are efficient enough to give the battery a full charge on all but the most overcast of days. When the sun stops shining, the solar cell stops producing electricity and current is allowed to flow from the battery to an LED lighting element, which provides light through the night.

The transition from day mode to night mode is controlled by a device called a photoresistor. When it detects that there is no sunlight falling on the unit, it will allow current to flow to the lighting element.

Knowing this single fact reveals the first potential mistake of solar lighting placement: placing the unit too close to another light source. If the homeowner puts a solar outdoor light too close to a streetlight or other lighting fixture, it may prevent the unit from coming on when it is supposed to.

The next potential mistake is the placement of the unit in a spot where there is insufficient light during the day. Today’s solar cells have come a long way, but they still need direct sunlight for most of the day to get a full charge. If a solar yard light is placed under a tree or a shrub, for instance, it may not get enough light to fully charge the battery. This may result in weak light output during darkness, especially toward the end of the night when the charge is low.

If the homeowner follows these simple rules, the solar powered outdoor lighting can provide good lighting at a great savings for years to come. The amount of electricity used is very small, but when one considers the long lifetime of solar lighting fixtures, the savings will certainly be substantial.

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