Outdoor lighting is an important part of the landscape. It increases safety and boots the home security measures, accentuating interesting features of the home or lawn, guides traffic through your yard, and illuminates the outdoor living space.
Of the available options of landscaping lighting, solar lighting offers you the most cost-effective and eco-friendly way to enhance your entryways and gardens. It offers you numerous benefits including running costs and reduced maintenance. However, this lighting method has some disadvantages as well. Before you can choose solar lighting on your landscaping, consider its benefits and disadvantages.
In this article, we will look at what solar lighting is all about and highlight some of its benefits and drawbacks.
What is Solar Lighting?
Usually, solar lighting relies on solar power collected through solar panels that transform the energy into lighting through their photovoltaic effect. Once the solar energy has been harnessed, it is stored in a rechargeable gel cell battery and is used later in the evening. The light is turned on by an intelligent controller which switches on the LED light using the stored energy.
The panel features numerous layers of crystalline silicon and other chemicals. When the light passes through the solar cell, the sun energy stimulates negatively-charged electrons, pushing them into positively-charged spaces.
Solar lighting is mainly used for outdoor lighting during the night. It can be used both in the streetlights as well as in smaller areas like the garden or walkways.
Apart from the photovoltaic lighting, there are other two types of solar lighting available:
These types of lights can brighten or dim indoor lighting depending on whether it is cloudy or sunny. This is a great technology that helps save energy spent on light as it can sense the presence of sunlight during the day and give the right amount of indoor lighting depending on the circumstances. The panels are installed on the rooftops and are usually smaller and easier to maintain.
Hybrid Solar Lights
The hybrid solar light is a more complex solar light. There are numerous systems available that function differently based on whether the energy is for grid powering or lighting or both.
Types of Solar Lights
The solar lighting market is filled with numerous options. This means that you are not limited to one type of lighting but you can have a few choices to meet different functional and beauty preferences. Some of the most common solar lights include:
- Solar spotlights
- Solar floodlights
- Ambient and decorative solar lights
- Solar lanterns
- Solar streetlights
- Motion lights
- Solar pathway lighting
Solar Lights Benefits
As with any product, there are several advantages and disadvantages of solar lights. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages but we will look at both so you can have a better view of the benefits and limitations of using solar lighting.
If you are trying to cut down on the power bill, then solar lighting is the solution to this. Outdoor solar lights are quite cost-effective as they are operated using rechargeable batteries through the sun. These lights do not require any digging, trenching or wiring. Solar lighting can be installed in parking lots, locations far from electrical connections, or areas with no grid infrastructure. Since the cost of trenching and wiring is eliminated, solar lighting is always the cheapest lighting solution. Reduced electricity costs can help you keep your utility bills in check.
Solar power is free energy and as long as solar landscape lights can recharge in direct sunlight, they will work problem-free, automatically turning on/off. These lights come with an automated feature which makes them more economical compared to other lighting systems. The energy that they collect during the day is enough to light up the entire night. Since they are automated, you do not have to monitor when to switch them on or off. They come with in-built sensors that automatically turn on the light when it gets dark. These lights require little to no maintenance. When you install them, they are ready to be used.
The solar lights have unique features that add elegance to the area that they are installed. These lights come in different styles which makes sure that they can match any home design. You will be highly impressed by the great ambiance that is created by these lights. If you want to light a large area in your home, you can add extra solar-powered lights. However, if you are looking to create some romance, you can light the place with one or two solar lights. If you are considering adding some ambiance to your yard, you need to consider these factors. They provide your home with security which makes them a worthy investment.
Energy consumption is one of the main contributors to a change in the environment. Solar lights are sustainable and offer you with a green alternative to other electrical systems. This is because solar lights produce their own electricity through the sun which is a renewable source.
5. Little Maintenance Required
Maintaining a solar lighting system is quite easy. Apart from a few check-ups and cleaning throughout the year, there is nothing else that you need to do to ensure the longevity of your solar system.
6. Available in a Wide Range of Styles
Solar lighting is availed in numerous styles, types, shapes, and sizes. It is available in all these styles for functionality reasons as well as enhancing the aesthetics of your landscape. The range is quite impressive and there is no doubt that you will find an option that meets your individual needs and expectations.
7. Easy Installation
Solar lights don’t require a professional to install. Anyone can buy solar lights from a local electrical shop and install them when they want them to be. Unlike traditional electrical fixtures, solar lighting does not require any wiring and is just a matter of where you want the lights to be installed.
Another advantage of solar lights is that they are not prone to blackouts and brownouts caused by extreme weather such as hurricanes. These lights are also immune to stresses that result from the electrical grid. Solar lights have complex battery technology that allows them to continue lighting for five days in a row without any exposure to the sun.
9. No Insect Swarming
Solar lights use LED lighting which doesn’t produce ultraviolet light. They, therefore, do not draw insects.
Solar lighting offers you a lot of flexibility in that you can place them anywhere you want. You don’t have to worry about how many there are on a line or whether you can run the wiring to that position.
Installing solar lighting is quite safe as it prevents potentially dangerous currents that are associated with other electrical lighting systems.
Solar Lights Drawbacks
1. Brightness (or lack thereof)
Brightness is the major drawback of solar lights. This type of lighting is not as bright as electric lights. Solar lights provide ambient lighting which has a blue hue. This limits its use as a security light. However, they are ideal for creating ambiance in gardens and garden paths. While there are some brighter solar lights available, these will require more power. Typically, they will last a few hours then go out, while the dimmer lights can go for long hours and even through the night.
2. Needs a Fully Charged Battery to Operate
Solar lights require a substantial amount of solar energy to function. Therefore, when the weather is cloudy, the bulbs will emit little light. If you live in areas that do not receive much sunlight, you may want to buy a solar light with a larger charging panel.
3. Inexpensive Models Do Not Work Well
If you buy a cheap solar light model, then you can be sure that it will not last long and it will be quite fragile. These models may also use longer charge times since they are made from cheaper materials.
4. Quality of Lights
Some solar lights can have a color saturation that is too blue. Some LEDs naturally tend to be blue which may not blend with the outdoor landscape. On the other hand, there are some other options that emit more white light than some people would prefer.
5. Frequent Battery Changes
Solar lights’ batteries need to be changed every two to three years. If not changed, the batteries will corrode and fail. Also, due to the aging of solar panels and batteries, you will be forced to replace the solar lights more often than other types of landscape lighting.
Is Solar Lighting a Good Choice For You?
Solar lights play an important role in landscaping and are a good choice in areas where it is impossible or impractical to pass electrical wires. They are also a good choice for those who seek to lower their carbon footprint. Solar lighting is a reliable source of lighting for people who need light early in the morning or late into the night. If you have any of these lighting needs, solar lighting will be a great choice!