With the current trend towards energy efficient lighting and generally green technology, solar lighting has become a very popular topic. Solar lights can now be found sold almost everywhere, from department stores to specialist suppliers.
When most people hear the term solar lights, they probably think of the small stand-alone outdoor solar lights that you can see lining driveways and garden beds at so many homes. Illuminating the garden, the driveway or the yard is certainly a great application for cheap and energy-efficient solar lights, but there is so much more that you can do with this technology. Did you know for example, that you can easily set up your own solar powered security lighting system, carport light, or even decorative solar lights for parties and for Christmas? With the advent of highly efficient LED technology (LED means light emitting diode) it is now possible to power exceptionally bright lights for long periods, using minimal sized solar collectors and batteries. In addition, LED lamps are available in every colour of the rainbow, and produce brilliant beautiful light which is perfect for parties and other festive occasions.
1. Let’s begin with the most practical applications first. Lighting a small building can be really convenient with a solar light set up. For a start, paying an electrician or contractor to come in to lay mains power to an outbuilding is very expensive. Then there is the ongoing expense of electricity. A solar lighting system can circumvent these problems, since most solar lights operate at a low voltage of approximately 12 Volts. Anyone with some basic handyman skills and tools can install one of these systems themselves, without the need for laying mains power or wiring and switches. Generally a solar lighting system such as this will consist of separate solar panel, battery, and light modules. The solar panel collect energy from the sun, and therefore need to be installed on a roof or another vantage point where it will collect sunlight. All you need to do then is find a convenient spot to locate a battery, and then attach your light fixtures.
2. When it comes to using solar lights for security purposes, you can expect a very similar system. You will need to install the solar panel in a location where it can collect sunlight all day, and install your battery storage somewhere out of the weather. Solar security lighting systems will generally incorporate a movement sensor or at least a lighting Centre, which will cause the bright LED lamps activate automatically when the system senses either low light levels, or movement within a set proximity. Once again, these solar lights don’t require you to lay mains electricity, or spend any significant amount of money on an installation.
Solar lights can be a convenient way to decorate large yards, parks and gardens
3. What about party lights? As we approach Christmas, the streets become lined with bright and beautiful decorative light displays. Traditionally these have always run off mains power, requiring a low voltage transformer to convert the dangerous mains voltage into a lower voltage which can safely be used to operate small lamps outdoors in potentially wet conditions. This type of system does work quite well, but as we have already discussed, solar lights have the advantage of requiring little or no wiring or installation. Solar powered party lights or Christmas lights are available in the same colours, designs, and patterns as all the traditional mains powered lights, but rely on a small solar panel and battery storage pack being placed in a position where it can collect sufficient sunlight. These solar lights are great, because you can quickly and easily set them up in a large yard or garden which is well away from your home without the need for cords and cables. Alternatively, these party lights can be used to decorate large outdoor areas such as parks and recreational areas, where there is no electricity supply.
There are many other applications for solar lights, ranging from systems to illuminate your entire house using nothing but energy collected from the sun, or similar smaller systems to light mobile homes, outbuildings, or even children’s playhouses. When selecting a solar light system, ensure that you will be using efficient LED lamps rather than older incandescent globes, since these convert a larger proportion of electrical energy into heat, resulting in significantly shorter illumination time.