Our sun is the source of all the energy on earth and it has been said that 1 hour of solar radiation can provide enough energy for one year of human consumption. The primary dilemma with solar energy is the difficulty experienced in harnessing it. While there is a lot of technology still in development, there is also a lot of technology already available.
Solar power is great because it does not create any pollution, there is no danger of an oil spill, no toxic waste, no smog, and no nuclear mishaps. According to scientists, the sun will be around for at least a few billion years before it turns into a red giant and leads to vaporization. However, harvesting the sun’s nuclear fuel in the meantime is likely to benefit all of humankind because it can be used as a renewable, zero-emission source of power.
Solar powered garden lights work with a low wattage system that uses a DC motor to flow power from the photovoltaic solar panel. When the sun is shining, the device harnesses the power during the day and then begins to illuminate during the night.
Most solar powered garden lights use light-emitting diode technology or as we commonly know it as an LED. The solar panel is the source of power, and the LED takes the energy from the panel to convert it into the light.
Solar Power Light Benefits
Solar powered lights are a great way to illuminate your house at night without having any recurring costs or causing the extra consumption of fossil fuel-based energy such as that taken from natural gas. Many homeowners keep their outdoor lights switched off because they do not want additional charges appearing on their electricity bill. Well, solar-powered lights are a no-brainer because other than the initial cost to purchase them, there are no additional expenses like there are with incandescent bulbs.
These solar powered lights are all easy to install and do not require the outfitting of a solar panel or electrical grid. They already have a mini-solar panel built into them and use that as their energy harnessing source.
How Do Solar Garden Lights Work?
Solar garden lights have several components to them that work in conjunction to harvest and produce light. From the base-up, there is the lamp cover, light emitting diode, controller board, battery, photoresistor, solar cells, and final the glass cover. Now we will explain how the solar cells and photoresistor work with the LED to produce night-time light.
There are usually four cells placed in a chronological order that produces a voltage of 0.45 (max) per cell. The solar cells are wired to an AA Nicad battery through a diode which has a storage capacity of 700 milliamp-hours. As the Sun’s rays beam onto the light, they penetrate through the glass cover and charge the battery. At night, the solar cells halt power production and the photoresistor turns on the LED. The photoresistor consists of a very simple circuit which involves a transistor that relays controls.
3 Factor Buyers Guide
Here are some tips on what to look for when researching solar powered garden lights to purchase.
IP stands for Ingress Protection and is a rating system that signifies the sealing efficiency around an electrical light. Higher IP ratings mean that the garden lights are more weatherproof than those with lower scores. There are two number categories within the IP rating system. The first number tells you on a scale of 0-6 how strong the light is against intrusive objects or parts. The second number tells you on a scale of 0-8 how resistant it is against liquid moisture. The first number indicates durability against anything such as birds, rocks, or trees whereas the second number measures how waterproof the light is against moisture such as snow or rain.
On a general rule of thumb, IP 44 is a good rating. There are higher rated lights available such as IP66 but these are often more expensive than they are worth because an IP44 is suitable for most garden applications.
An automatic on/off feature is important because the lights should illuminate at night and stay off during the day. After all, you only need a substitute for natural light during the night as sunlight is sufficient for the daytime.
There are two types of lighting: functional and style. Functional lighting is made for practical purposes such as reading or security whereas style lighting is low lumen and is only for decorative purposes. Lumen is a measurement of light brightness and higher rating will lead to a more vibrant atmosphere. Decorative lights will provide a better visual appeal, but functional lights can also serve a dual purpose.
5 Best Solar Powered Garden Lights
Bell & Howell Disk Lights
Bell & Howell Disk Lights are an As Seen on TV feature product. They are available at most retailers and by mail order. Many users have found them to imitate a crystal, diamond, or star which is why they are often marketed as both a functional and style combination lumen light. They are solar powered LED and intended for outdoor use. There is no wiring or special installation required. Essentially, you should need to press the disk light flat into the ground and the task is complete. There is automatic shut-off at sunrise and automatic switch-on at sunset, so you can get 10 hours of lighting every night. They can be positioned inside any garden and are lawnmower safe. Plus, they are made from stainless steel with a watertight seal. Their IP rating is 44 and is durable enough for you to position them on hard surfaces. They are suitable for decorative purposes or can be used as a security sensor during the night. There is no need for motion activated sensor fluorescent lights because the Disk Light will take care of all your outdoor lighting needs.
SolarGlow Solar Garden Lights
These lights are super bright 15 lumen LEDs and solar-activated. They turn off during the day and switch on when the sun begins to set. They are very easy to install and require no wiring. Furthermore, they do not run on electricity and require only solar power so there are no reoccurring costs to maintain them. They do appear as a lantern so make sure that this is the design you want before purchasing. The set of 6 lights each has three components to it: plastic stake, light bulb, and stainless steel post. It is ABS construction certified so they are very durable. They do run on AA batteries so that is the technology that harnesses the solar power from the Sun. The color of the lighting is functional, bright white and the cost of the garden lights is about $37 MSRP.
TONULAX Solar Flower Lights
These solar garden lights take the shape of a lily flower that is a great decorative feature to add to your lawn or garden. Like the other lights on this list, they do not require any special wiring, electrical grids, or professional installation. It has a high IP rating of 65 which makes it very weather resistant and prone to damage. The flower itself is artificial and made from tame fabric which is not necessarily environmentally harmful but because this is for lighting purposes, we would say it’s alright to use these flower shaped lights. The stems and leaves are adjustable so you can rearrange them to your liking as if it were a flower bouquet. This is really a novelty item and not intended for functional lighting purposes. LECLSTAR makes similar garden lights to these and those have been accredited as being eco-friendly so be sure to check those out too.
GIGALUMI Outdoor Bronze Finished Solar Lights
These lights have many 4- and 5-star reviews by customers. They are made with a poly-crystalline silicon, metal frame, and a premium light emitting diode. They have a glass lamp and are waterproof. Many users have placed them around gardens, driveways, and paths which seem to be the optimal placement. They have style-type LED lighting. Again, very easy to install and no electrical grid or solar panel installation required. They are 5.3 inches in diameter and 19” tall. They are made of a real glass lens and stainless with no plastic utilized whatsoever. Therefore, this gets extra environmentally friendliness points due to its non-plastic construction.
A-Zone Solar Motion Sensor Light
This is a solar motion sensor light that is very bright with 800 lumens. There are two lights included with each purchase and although these are a bit pricy there are very durable and effective for security purposes. For example, they have an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of IP66 which is considered extremely durable for a light in this category. They do appear as if they were security cameras which may or may not be to your liking, but we found that it adds an extra layer of deterrence to thieves and uninvited visitors. It has a built-in photocell sensor that turns off during the day and will activate under the dim-light mode. There is a built-in PIR (passive infrared) sensor that can detect up to 26 feet away with a 120-degree range. The light will stay turned on for 30 seconds after motion is detected. You will require a standard screwdriver to install these lights to the desired position(s).
All in all, solar powered garden lights are really a must-have. They are sustainable pieces of equipment that can provide security or decorative lighting. With the knowledge we have attempted to instill within you, you should be better equipped to assess the best solar powered garden lights and choose the product right for you. In fact, I am personally on my way to purchase a set of disk lights from a local retailer as I wrap up this write-up.