For a long time, garden lighting and pathway lighting were design choices that many homeowners overlooked. This was largely due to the fact that wiring such ornamental lighting was a headache, and the monthly energy bills would put a significant dent in the homeowner’s pocket.
However, solar lighting is slowly changing how people view outdoor lighting. Imagine having your garden or pathway lit by ornamental lights, and you didn’t have to pay for their running costs.
Solar outdoor lighting promises just that!
What are solar lights?
Solar lights are lighting equipment that works using the energy from the sun to create artificial lighting. Solar lights use photovoltaic cells that absorb energy from photons and store it as an energy reserve like a battery.
During the day, the solar panels will charge the batteries, and when the sun goes down, the battery will power the lights. The major advantage of such a system is that it isn't connected to the mains.
Hence, you don’t have to pay for the lighting.
Solar garden lighting was not a popular choice for many because of limited options. However, that has changed significantly over recent years as more companies have started making outdoor solar lighting equipment.
Today, you can get outdoor solar lights in many forms and capacities, proving that not only are they functional but can also go head to head with conventional lights in the beauty department too.
Is a solar lighting system a DIY project?
There are several services that you can choose to set up a solar outdoor lighting system for your home. However, it is also a task that you can easily do it on your own.
Take it up as a DIY project, and you will appreciate the outcome. Let us look through the list of things you should buy for this project.
Solar lights and panels
Usually, solar lights come with solar panels, either attached or remote. And this is the first classification of solar lights:
Lights with in-built solar panels and battery: In this type of solar light, the housing of the light contains both the solar panel and the battery. This means that there is no need to wire anything or bog down with connections and batteries.
You can use these lights as they are without any setup. The advantage of such a system is obvious.
An all-in-one solar light is easy to install and use. However, these lights have their limitations.
Since all three parts are in the same housing, don’t expect high brightness or high illumination durations. They are mostly used for ornamental purposes.
Remote solar panels and battery: Lights with a remote solar panel and battery come with three distinct parts – a solar panel, light, and a battery. At first, you’ll need to set up the lights in your garden, wire them to the battery, and the battery must be wired to the solar panel.
The advantage of such a system is that each part is highly customizable. If you need more brightness, use a light that has more power.
And, if you require the illumination to last longer, use a battery with more capacity. With this setup, you can create a solar outdoor illumination system tailored to your requirements.
You can use such systems for ornamental use or install high brightness solutions for security purposes.
How to choose the right battery?
If you are planning to set up the solar lighting system piece by piece, you will need a battery.
Choosing the right type of battery is about finding the right capacity based on your lighting. The rule of thumb here is to use a 10 Ah battery for 10 hours of use if you have 10W light.
Keep in mind that a 10W led light can easily light up a small room of about 10x10 feet.
Most probably, you will be buying a 12-volt battery, which can be of any capacity or Ah. A neat way to find the capacity you need is to add the wattages of the lights, multiply the number by hours of use, and then divide the value by 12.
So, if you’ve got five 6W lights and you need them to run 8 hours at night, the capacity you require will be (30 x 8)/12 = 20Ah battery.
How to choose the right solar panel?
Solar panels come in various sizes, and they differ based on the technology and size. On the technology front, solar panels are divided into Amorphous and Silicon.
Amorphous solar panels are cheaper due to their low efficiency, while silicon ones are costlier, but they are capable of converting more sunlight into energy.
Choosing the right solar panel will come down to your budget and the wattage. For a 10W system that runs 12 hours, we recommend that you choose no lesser than a 30W solar panel.
Considerations while setting up your solar garden light
The following are some of the important tips that will help you get the best working efficiency from your solar lights.
1. Do not place the solar panel in the shaded area
Solar panels need light to generate energy. If you’ve installed the panel in a shaded area, the amount of light it receives will be low, resulting in a slower battery charging.
This directly results in the lights not having enough juice to power them for hours on end. Make sure that you choose an open area that receives unobstructed sunlight.
2. Clean solar panels
If shade isn’t the reason why your solar panel has seen in a dip in performance, it might be dust. Dust particles can layer on top of the panel blocking the sunlight.
Therefore, you must clean the solar panels at regular intervals. Snow, just like dust, can also cause the performance to worsen.
3. Replace batteries
The best mileage you can get out of batteries is around two years. You should replace them at the 2-year mark to continue uninterrupted illumination.
The solar outdoor lighting system is ideal for beautifying your garden as well as providing improved security without depending on the grid. It is a clean and cost-effective solution that you can take up as a DIY project.