Perhaps the greatest breakthrough for the solar lighting industry has been the advent of affordable, reliable LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes. One of the greatest hurdles for any solar powered system to overcome has always been collecting sufficient energy to store, and then power light globes with. Conventional incandescent light globes are fairly inefficient (they convert a lot of electrical energy into heat rather than light) and therefore quickly run down the batteries of any solar light.
LED lamps on the other hand are very efficient – they produce almost no heat, converting approximately 95% of all electrical energy into visible light. LED lamps have other advantages also, they have an almost indefinite service life, are resistant to shock and cold, and are available in almost any colour of the rainbow.
By combining more efficient lamps with existing solar technology, it is now feasible to power brighter, bigger solar lights for longer.
Close up view of the light emitting diodes found in modern solar lights
For anyone interested in purchasing solar lights this is all very good news. Highly energy-efficient solar LED lamps for the garden, patio, or deck area are very reliable and easy to install. Even tiny little stand-alone solar lights are able to collect enough energy to produce light for between 8 and 12 hours on a continual basis. for many years. Using old fashioned incandescent bulbs, it was common to get only 2-3 hours of light from a daily charge, leaving the yard or garden in darkness for most of the night.
Of course LED solar lights are not just restricted to the garden. Many people are now employing energy efficient LED solar lights as a cheap security lighting option, or to light up their outdoor barbecue areas or even sheds and carports. Since these systems operate at a low voltage, usually between 6 and 12 V, anyone with some basic tools and handyman skills could handle the installation quite easily. Essentially these component solar light systems incorporate a solar panel, a battery bank, and separate lamps. Although this is more complicated than purchasing individual solar lights such as those seen lining driveways or garden beds, a component system is usually capable of powering larger and brighter solar lights. Another advantage, especially in the case of solar lights which are intended for security purposes, is that most component systems can be wired with a mains backup. This way you can be assured your yard or garden will be brightly lit, even if insufficient sunlight has been collected during the day time.
With the current trend towards green technology and energy-efficiency, LED lighting will undoubtedly become the norm rather than the exception. Most reputable manufacturers already now produce only LED solar lights, and will clearly advertise their superior performance. However, it still pays to double check any product before you buy, to ensure that it is in fact using high efficiency LEDs rather than incandescent globes.