Are you seeking the best solar lights for a fantastic transformation for your home? Solar lights are eco-friendly and affordable at the same time. As a bonus, we don’t have to worry about setting up any wiring cable as we often do with other conventional electric lights. But when it comes to buying solar lights, you might encounter a bunch of choices which can meet every taste and need.
For this reason, we’ve spent hours researching various sources of information and finally come up with this useful buying guide. Our goal is simple: to help you have a deep insight into solar lighting so that you can have the best purchasing decision. Now let’s get started!
What Are Solar Lights?
Solar lighting is a new, advanced technology of lighting which is mainly used for both indoor and outdoor lighting purpose. They are very special compared to the conventional method of lighting as they take advantage of the sunlight, which is a renewable source of energy, for lighting. Today, you can see these solar-powered devices on streets, around houses, or in small areas like a garden or porch.
How Do Solar Lights Work?
The working principle of solar lights is quite simple to understand. Their core component is a photovoltaic panel (or PV panel) which is able to collect the solar energy by absorbing sunlight during the day. After being collected, that energy is transformed into its electric form and stored it in a battery (usually a rechargeable gel cell battery).
When the sun goes down, these solar lights are turned on for different lighting purposes. Because they are powered by the sun, they must be set up in areas where there is plenty of sunlight.
In addition to a photovoltaic panel, solar lights use a controller, which is designed to be intelligently and automatically switches the light itself into the LED light using the stored energy, to help it turn on.
For those who want to know more about PV panels, they comprise of multiple layers of crystalline silicon and some chemicals which can create layers of negatively-charged electrons and positively-charged spaces. After passing through the PV panel, the sunlight excites negatively-charged electrons and pressures them into the positively-charged spaces. You can see this PV panel as a dark plane at the top of most solar lights.
Advantages of Solar Lights
If you’ve never used a solar light before, you probably have lots of questions when it comes to the benefits of utilizing this new method of lighting. To help you answer this concern, we’ve listed some of the greatest advantages of solar lights as follows:
Without a doubt, solar energy is very eco-friendly. As they produce electrics from the most available renewable energy source – the sunlight, they play an important role in cutting off carbon footprint that has been released day by day by factories and industrial sites all around the world. And we all know that only by gradually acquiring solar and other kinds of renewable energy sources, we can slow down the rate of problems caused by exhaustion of our planet’s resources.
Solar lights can cost you more than conventional lights when it comes to buying a new model. However, in the long-term use, they are actually a cheaper solution. By taking a sum of the light’s price and its electric bill, you will realize that the budget for using a conventional light will ultimately add up and cover the cost of buying a solar light within just a few months.
You might disagree when we say “a solar lighting system usually requires a very little maintenance”, but that’s true. This kind of lighting is actually one of the easiest to be maintained without the need for replacing any wire or installing any outlet for being powered. In addition to doing several check-ups and clean-ups throughout the year, you have nothing more to do to ensure the life expectancy of your solar lighting.
Solar lighting is available in a variety of styles designed for different lighting purposes. They also come in numerous types, shapes, sizes, colors, and so on. Some are not only made for serving a specific functional purpose but also for being aesthetically and visually pleasing. Therefore, there will be not too difficult for you to find an option that suits your demands and expectations.
If there is one day when the Sun dies, our planet will be destroyed, too. But when will this catastrophe happen? Maybe millions of years later. So, you can see that solar energy is an unlimited source which seems inexhaustible. As long as you live on Earth, particularly where there is sunlight, there is no reason why you could not buy a solar light and produce energy out of it.
Convenient Choice in Desperate Times
If the area where you’re living is frequently battered by severe storms, then blackouts are quite familiar to you. This causes too many difficulties and bother, especially when you’re left in darkness for days.
In this cases, you can use candles or oil lamps as the temporary alternative. However, they’re obviously inconvenient, and they can pose a risk to safety due to fire hazards. Solar lighting, by contrast, is portable and a much safer choice in those desperate times.
No Need for Electrical Wires
Conventional lighting requires power cables for working. These could be a trip-hazard when being chewed by animals, especially in case of wet weather outdoors. But with solar lighting, you have no such worries anymore.
Standard silicon wafers, used for PV panels, cannot resist severe weather by themselves, but they’re sealed behind plastic. Therefore, you and your family are safe if the water has the chance to get in it. Moreover, you can give your solar lights extra protection by placing them under a canopy or in other kinds of housing to keep them safe from bad weather conditions.
Types of Solar Lights
Getting the ideal outdoor solar lighting option will depend on particular functions or capabilities you want your lights to perform. And those factors will be related straightly to the type of the light. For example, lights for security purposes tend to be more expensive than the normal pathway, driveway, or yard lights. Below are some common types of solar lights you should know:
Solar Path Lights
Pathways and walkways are the best places for installing this type of solar lights. Also, based on the effect you want to achieve, they can be availed as the accent light for your garden. Typically, the solar lights for pathways tend to be brighter than the accent ones.
Moreover, most of them are simple to set up. You simply stake them in the soil (most commonly) or hang them on the fences. A lot of designs arrive with an on and off switch situated on each stake. Once deciding to switch it off, which means that you want the charge to be accumulated until needed.
In addition, solar path lights can be used as the sidewalk lights or garden path lights, which can shine more than 10 hours! And with them, you can enjoy the warm months by playing around the backyard, dining on the patio with your family, or simply playing any lawn game. The light will add more brightness to the outdoor environment that enables more types of festivities to keep going long after the sunset.
As you see, solar path lights are more effective in spaces with plenty of direct sunlight. These are where they offer the pleasant and subtle brightness for hours at night. This can boost the attractiveness of your exterior property by illuminating the driveway and garden path. Do you want some to improve its curb appeal? Let’s read more about the best solar path lights reviews.
Solar Garden Lights
These lights are designed to make the garden look more charming and vibrant. In case you don’t know, solar task lights are also used for security, especially those which are built with the sensitive motion sensors which can spot the movements and then turn on instantly to produce a bright light.
By using a tiny photovoltaic panel right at the top of it, the lights can charge and store energy into the battery under that panel. After charging it, the lights will have enough energy to brighten a walkway and a garden path through the night.
Users usually stake solar garden lights on the ground of their garden. Doing so will add different illumination effects in a scattered way around their garden. So, if you want to decorate your plants with some lights or to cast a nice light on the landscaping, they are great choices.
Besides, solar garden lights can be utilized almost anywhere as long as it receives enough sunlight through the day. Before gardening, let’s pick up a place for them to welcome the sunlight. Ensure them not to be shaded by any plant or house structure. If not, they can interrupt the light’s exposure to the sunlight. And once charging it fully, let the lights illuminate for several hours on your summer night.
In the winter, your lights may not get enough energy to last through the night. And when there’s snowfall, then their PV panel can be covered, try to clean the stains off regularly. Do you love to get one? Come to find out more about them through the best solar garden lights reviews.
Solar Landscape Lights
Unlike other solar path lights, accent lights are exclusively designed to bring the good illumination to your garden, front yard or backyard. Besides, they can add more elegant accents through the lights to your beautifully sculpted landscape. However, this type of lights might be not as bright as you expect because it only offers a cozy glow instead of a bright white lightness.
Therefore, when you decide to build up a pretty rock garden or a pond outdoor, you should stake some of them on the ground. Doing this helps you to highlight your favorite areas, as well as cast an amber glow on the foliage. Not only that, but such outdoor lighting that is powered by the sun is also a cost-efficient and hassle-free way. You can use them for illuminating the walkways, driveways, and more.
Like other solar-powered lights, solar path lights are weather-resistant and can automatically turn on once the night comes. Also, there’s no essential wire needed for switching on and off, which means none of the headaches, especially when you’re not familiar with the process.
As for their batteries, they last a couple of years. However, if you don’t keep them away from residue on the solar panel, then this could affect the charging badly. Thus, it’s highly recommended to clean up your lights regularly to expand their life and ensure better function as well as illumination over time.
Don’t waste your time but hurry to boost your yard, patio, deck, and other surroundings by adding these lighting to your outdoor spaces. Browse through these best solar landscape lights reviews for some great ideas before you decide to buy one!
Solar Post Caps Lights
Have you ever dream of giving your post a gentle glow with some solar post caps lights or not? They’re said to offer the ambient lighting without needing you to set up any wire or electricity. Only expose them to direct sunlight, the lights can produce much longer run times than ever throughout the night.
As compared to others, solar post caps lights are supposed as a clever and efficient solution to shine up the deck, patio, and stairs. By installing them without hassle over your post or fence, you can relax to watch the beautiful lights shining all over the place. It’s thanks to the integrated solar panel, which is in charge of gaining the sun’s energy and then powering up the light automatically.
Choose yourself the most suitable one among different solar post caps lights. Don’t miss the ones with decorative bodies and bright LED lights that can offer a soft glow where it’s needed. It will add both light and great style to your favorite outdoor setting. If you want to buy one, there are many models available in different sizes for you to choose.
Their sizes will be listed with the cap light’s name, which makes it easier for you to get the right post solar lights that meet your needs. Some products are made of heavy-duty materials that can be utilized year-round. For any concern about these solar lights, or how to choose the right post cap for your outdoor space, please take a glance at some best solar post caps lights reviews.
Solar Street Lights
Most solar street lights have become more and more popular than ever as an eco-friendly alternative for fluorescent street lights. They can offer a better value for the price, optimal lighting, and a renewable source of energy at the same time.
Again, you don’t need cables. So, it’s easy to avoid yourself from encountering any problem with the cable connection. The technology of the lights has been improved every day to make sure that you’ve got the best solution.
You can mount the solar street lights to the top of the pole or face south without any shading. Its solar-powered system gets wired to the battery assembly lying under or right behind the panel. These panels will charge the batteries throughout the day to offer sufficient energy for their operation at night.
Simply wait for the sun to set, and then the panel will serve as a photocell, contacting with the electric controls and turning the light on. At dawn, these controls will reverse the entire process and then charge the batteries. Note that their batteries can charge at various levels based on the power of the sun and weather conditions.
It’s exclusively designed by the lighting specialists who have considered different elements, such as the setup location, weather conditions, and the local AASTO load criteria as well as the system running profile. They must calculate all of these elements to make sure the system can run smoothly for the end users. View the best solar street lights reviews for more insights into these products.
Solar Fence Lights
Solar fence lights would be the ideal style for any taste for sure thanks to their modern, sleek, and classic at the same time. Some lights have the frosted covers on the front and both sides, which are said to diffuse the light. This gives your fence, porch, deck, and the entire garden a more appealing and even glow!
if you’re seeking some affordable, eco-friendly, and low-maintenance lighting, then consider getting yourself a set of fence lights! They shall shine beautifully every night of the year. Surprisingly, most of them do it all by making use of the power of the sun itself. By collecting rays naturally through the day, the lights can go illuminating the house’s exterior.
There’s no wire or external power source required for setting up these lights. This outdoor lighting solution is efficient and effort-free all in one. They switch on automatically at dusk, and after the full charge, you can gain 6 – 8 hours’ constant operation from them.
For great models of solar fence lights available on the market, you can take a look at some of the best solar fence lights reviews for reference. All of them are easy to install by simply mounting them on the wall or the fence with screws and hinges given. And wait for them to beautify your yard by making them look like a real paradise at night.
Not only giving the aesthetical and eco-friendly lighting experience, but they also can get your job done no matter how harsh the conditions are (snow, rain, hail, wind, etc.)
Solar Shed Light
Do you like the idea of lighting up all the inside and outside of your shed, porch, deck, balcony, and even garden beds at night? Don’t look further than these solar shed lights. They do it all after being mounted on the wall or another horizontal surface. With them, everything will be illuminated while you’re still sitting back and relaxing.
The solar panel from them will absorb the direct sunlight through the day so that when the nightfall comes, the lights are all ready to shine the surroundings. Similar to nearly every solar-powered lights, this one is an effortless shed lighting as well. None of the wire and extra setup requirement is given, and even no power bills that you have to pay. It’s because they’re 100% powered by solar energy!
They will switch on at dusk and go off at dawn, but unlike some models out there, these are built and made from metal rather than plastic. This material would allow for further hardiness in the elements.
Besides, another appealing feature of the solar shed light is that there are two distinct power settings. The first one is the full power setting in which all of the LEDs shine to offer you one-hour that is worth of light at 400 lumens. The second one is the low power setting in which only 24 LEDs are motivated to light up. They still allow the lights to spread on your wall and surface of your choice during nights.
Don’t miss a glance at some best solar shed lights reviews if you want to know what types of solar light is a worthy inclusion in the list.
Solar Deck Lights
In case that the house owns a deck, then this place is the ideal one to be availed for entertaining and comfortable. As long as you get the suitable lighting solution, it’s possible to enjoy the beautiful deck longer after the sun sets. For those overhead lights, they’re good for cooking while with lights mounted on your wall, they offer a more appealing and low-key lighting effect.
What makes the outdoor solar deck lights more special is that it can run with the minimal noise and disruption. Also, all of them are both round, square, and fully self-contained so that there will be none of the wiring needed to worry about. You just need to mark the area of the light or avail a jigsaw to divide the area and then push the lights in the place.
Each homeowner would love to benefit from these new solar deck lights since they’re as pretty as the conventional electric lights. And unlike the previous lighting option, these solar lights only need sunlight to operate properly. This somehow feels a bit frustrating for those who are living in a place that has little sunlight throughout the year.
Simply test the light, and then you might find that only on the overcast days, your lights will appear a bit dimmer than usual. So remember that your solar light panels need to be positioned in a way that guarantees the highest light exposure for the best performance.
However, these are a little more expensive than other lighting solutions. It seems a disadvantage, but a lot of homeowners choose to invest in this system for their remarkable electric savings. Read more on the best solar deck lights reviews for your ultimate decision!
Other Features to Consider for Buying the Best Solar Lights
Function is one of the biggest parts when it comes to buying solar lighting. In general, the more functions a solar light offers, the more expensive it is. For instance, a solar street lighting will cost you more than a garden lighting.
In addition, if you choose an atmospheric light, you cannot warn even a burglar from getting inside your house. Meanwhile, a LED light with some motion sensors can do that as long as you put them nearby the garage, pathway, or backdoors.
After looking at some detailed descriptions of the solar lighting, you probably notice that many of them claim to produce a cozy and an amber glow, which is very good to use for highlighting the landscaping. On the other hand, most LED solar lights are meant to give off a brighter and long-lasting brightness. These lighting effects are perfectly used for security or keeping the pathways lit.
In addition, pay attention to the lighting hue. That’s because every solar light nowadays would utilize LED bulbs and their produced light is mostly the bright white shade. So, in case you look for the incandescent bulbs, seek those with their tinted covers. These types are mostly labeled as the amber glow or soft white lights.
The majority of solar lights use LED bulbs whose brightness (the output of light) is measured by lumens. This factor varies widely from light to light. For example, some models produce only 15-35 lumens, giving a soft, warm lighting. Whereas, other models can produce a much higher lumen, about 700-800, which means you will have a much brighter (and harsher) light.
A brighter light is a must for security purposes. For example, pathways, driveways and walkways are some areas that need solar lights with a high level of brightness, while gardens and other types of landscape prefer gentle lights for adding a bit of romance. Therefore, depending on your purposes of lighting, take the brightness of the light into account before making any purchasing decision.
Battery Type and Capacity
Knowing which kind of battery used for the solar light is the next step. A few solar-powered batteries are known to ask for some units that should be fully exposed to the sun to be fully charged. By contrast, some others can be charged even when they’re not in the full sun.
Moreover, it’s important to consider the capacity of the battery for better use. For example, it’s totally bad if you choose the one that can’t work from dusk to dawn for security purposes.
What If There’s No Direct Sunlight?
If you place your solar lights in a desert yard in Palm Springs, they’re certain to run at their maximized power. But have you ever considered what if you’re settled in Seattle, or you have a shaded outdoor yard? Things won’t be as simple as you thought, but it’s still possible to use the solar-powered lights in a heavily shaded site.
A solar light or any lighting option for landscaping can situate a distant PV panel on the roof or in a sunnier site of the yard. That can be wired to the lights in the shaded place. When there’s not much sunlight on the roof, especially when you’re living somewhere in Portland, these solar lights still run. The only weakness is that they can’t light up brightly or long at night.
The intelligent lights tend to own more up-to-date processors which largely adapt to the surroundings. For instance, a solar bollard light has an intelligent microprocessor that can adjust the light output based on the weather patterns.
In general, the more intelligent your lights are, the more functional they will be. For example, as the light can adjust its light intensity based on the surrounding environment, it could save energy and thus, last longer. Of course, these models will be more expensive; however, what they offer for you is just incredible. If your budget allows, why don’t you pick the one?
Getting What You Pay For
The average brightness of solar lights can be primarily affected by the natural brightness of the sun as well as the amount of the daylight it’s exposed. It’s also based on the PV cell’s quality and the size of the LED bulbs. More decent PV cells and bigger light bulbs would cost more. Therefore, to a particular extent, we can say that the expensive solar lights tend to work better and produce brighter light.
Are you looking for the best solar lights for all kinds of outdoor areas? If so, make sure to read our buying guide above carefully to get great ideas. Also, don’t miss considering both positive and negative sides of each type of solar lighting. Hopefully, they would help you know whether a product is worth your money or not.
Once you choose the right one, ensure to clean them periodically to expand their battery life. That’s because a dusty solar panel won’t be able to charge the battery. Though the solar lights are claimed to be capable of handling all weather conditions, you still have to store the lights indoors once the winter comes.
But if you have the lights with glass solar panels, it’s sure that they will be badly affected by the extreme weather. Go to turn them off to save their batteries, or put them away in a closed container or a dark site. And if, under those conditions, your lights appear dimmer than normal, you should replace the batteries after every one or two years.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We all want to light up our garden, patio, and driveway with beautiful illumination effects. And solar lights are the great choice to give us the warm and gentle accent lighting for our home in an eco-friendly approach. But together with how beneficial they offer, you might have many questions about how they work and how to use them in the best way. We’ve got all the answers to your questions:
Question 1: What does a solar light comprise of?
Answer: Most solar-powered fixtures contain a photovoltaic cell, NiCd battery, LED light, and a light-controlled resistor. Each of them is claimed to release the energy, which is used to charge the batteries the entire day. Moreover, the solar outdoor lights will stop emitting that energy in the evening. For this reason, the resistor, which is known to detect the light presence, will activate the battery.
Question 2: What are the disadvantages of solar lighting?
To be honest, the biggest drawback of solar lights is that they cannot continuously work day by day like directly-electric-powered lights, due to the dependence on the battery.
In addition, the cost of buying a solar light is usually higher compared to that of a conventional light. However, being benefited from the competition for solar products amongst manufacturers all around the world, this technology is being improved within months, so today’s customers can buy solar lights with an affordable price, not to mention a diverse of models at different price tags to choose from.
Question 3: How long will a solar lighting last?
Answer: With the NiCd batteries that are both rechargeable and replaceable, you can trust that the lights can last around two years. And to let that happen, make sure to take good care of the lights and enable them to recharge periodically.
Also, any replacement battery can be bought right from the manufacturer or on the Internet. As for the LED bulbs, they would operate more than 100,000 hours and can’t be replaced.
Question 4: How could I take care of my solar lights?
Answer: Since the outdoor solar lighting is mainly powered by the sunlight, they must be cleaned well from dust, snow, or rain. Doing so allows them to store the energy for the night. Please note that they can’t run well in the winter or on the overcast days.
Thus, you might like to store the lights indoors, especially when it’s raining or snowing. Try to turn them off whenever they’re not being availed and put them away in a dark site.
Question 5: Are my solar lights weatherproof?
Answer: If the outdoor solar lights are often made to withstand all temperatures, then should we put them outside? No, of course! Some models with glass can’t be placed outdoors if you see a lot of snow or rain at that time. The lights are not recommended to be exposed to the harsh conditions, such as the extreme windstorms, or they will be easily damaged.
By not letting it happen, go to get the hanging fixtures if you’re anxious about them blowing away. Besides, these hanging lights are said to run well for lining the ponds or pools.
Question 6: Does solar lighting have any design limitation?
Answer: Yes, it does. Solar is mainly provided to offer a cost saving solution and for the eco-friendly purpose. When you get the high wattage fixtures, then they must have a bigger solar panel. With such a limitation, solar lighting is only used for minimum security parking, 2-to-4 lane roadways.
Question 7: Can we replace our existing fixture with a solar one?
Answer: Replacing your current fixture with the solar-powered type might need a careful analysis from one of the specialists. For instance, when there’s power in an area, it’s more logical to set up some conventional grid lights there.
However, there comes a case where solar fixture becomes a more cost-feasible option. Therefore, you need to contact the solar lighting expert to get more useful advice.
Question 8: Why is there an on/off switch in the solar lights?
Answer: As we know, most outdoor solar lights arrive with these switches, which help us to control whenever we want the light to turn on. If you like it to keep working all day, simply leave it in the ‘on’ position. And if you want to charge the light, try to turn it into the “off” position until you’re ready to avail it.
If you have any further questions, feel free to leave them below. We will answer them as soon as we can. Thank you so much and have a nice day!