Solar Lights: The Ultimate Buying Guide

Before investing in your next solar lights, read this guide.

It covers all information you need about solar lights – from designs, maintenance, quality standards, components, benefits to price.

So, keep reading to learn more.

Types Of Solar Lights Available in The Market

There are three types of solar lights. They include;

Outdoor Solar Lights

These solar lights are for outdoor purposes. They can as well perform security since you install them outside hence discouraging any theft cases.

They obtain energy from the sunlight. This means the more energy they obtain from the sunlight the longer they will last and the more the illumination.

While fully charged they can last up to 10 hours.

Some of these outdoor solar lights include;

  • Solar deck lights
  • Solar spotlights
  • Solar strings lights
  • Solar floodlights
  • Solar lanterns
  • Solar driveways lights
  • Solar post lights
  • Solar emergency lights
  • Solar camping lights
  • Solar lawn lights

Solar Garden Lights

Solar Garden Lights

Indoor Solar Lights

Indoor solar lights come with a completely different model unlike the one for the outdoor solar lights.

The solar panel is installation is separate where there is adequate sunlight. They normally serve as a backup plan when there is electricity outrage.

Below are the different types of indoor solar lights;

  • Solar shed lights
  • Solar desk lights

Indoor Solar Lights

Indoor Solar Lights

Security LED Solar Lights

They are the best when it comes to security measures. You can install them outside the house, along the driveway, and at the entry gate.

They contain an inbuilt sensor that detects any movement within closer proximity.

If you walk within these coverages angle, they will automatically light up. In absence of any activity, they switch off immediately.

Security LED Solar Lights With Motion Sensor

Security LED Solar Lights with Motion Sensor

Components Of Solar Lights

Ideally, solar lights consist of parts that work together to generate power from a natural resource in this case the sun.

The power can also be from the batteries. This power illuminates different environments either indoor or outdoor.

These parts that make up the solar lights include;

Solar Panel

The solar panel comprises crystals from the covalent bonds that are between the electrons on the outer shell of the silicon layer.

Besides, the solar panel normally comprises two silicon layers, the upper and the lower layer.

The lower layer contains lesser electrons, unlike the upper layer which contains more electrons resulting in low negative charges.

Between these two layers, a barrier occurs which allows the light in form of photons to enter and transfer this energy to the atom’s cells.

This results in a transfer of an electron from one energy level of the upper layer to the lower layer.

This movement of electrons from one layer to another produces a current which lights up the solar lights.

We refer to this process as the photovoltaic effect.

The solar panel consists of the following layers;

  • Glass
  • Encapsulate
  • Crystalline cells
  • Black sheet
  • Junction box
  • Frame

Charge Controller

The charge controller monitors how the solar lights system operates to prevent any damages to the battery.

It ensures the battery does not overcharge or extreme discharge of current especially when there is quite a variation in weather.

Other elements that you will find under the charge controller include;

  • Time controller
  • Sound
  • Light controller
  • Temperature compensation
  • Reverse polarity protection
  • Alternating current transfer switches

Battery

On the solar lights, you will find a plastic or metal case that holds the battery.

Inside this casing, there is a cathode and anode point that produces chemical reactions with the battery.

The case also consists of a separator that separates the anode and cathode from reacting all at the same time.

There is also a collector that allows the transfer of the current from the batteries to the outside to facilitate lighting.

To perform in extreme temperature variation, the batteries normally use;

  • Gel electrolyte technology for deep discharging
  • Lead-acid
  • Nickel metal hydrides
  • Lithium

Light Fixture

Normally, this is what holds/houses the light.

This light fixture nowadays comes in an array of LEDs that embeds into a full array.

Parallel configurations fixture is the most ideal quality fixture compared to the series one.

A good example is the cobra head fixture for lighting up the parks.

Various Components That Constitute Outdoor Solar Lights

Various components that Constitute Outdoor Solar Lights

How Solar Lights Work

The whole solar light system is a result of the photovoltaic effect. This effect normally occurs in the solar cell.

The solar cell converts all the sunlight energy into a direct current.

Crystalline silicon and the chemical layers on the solar cell result in negatively charged electrons with positively charged spaces.

Therefore, when the sunlight passes through the solar cell, it triggers the negatively charged electrons into the positively charged space.

The electrons flow from the positively charged space into the solar cell directly to the battery through the wires that embed in the solar cell.

Besides, the battery will store the electricity current until it’s dark.

The solar lights contain a photoreceptor that detects when the darkness starts to enter and the solar lights turn on.

During the day only the conversion of the sunlight to current takes place which is stored in the battery.

An Illustration Of How Solar Energy Is Converted to Light Energy

An Illustration Of How Solar Energy Is Converted to Light

Benefits Of Solar Light

Solar lights provide immense benefits compared to using any other source of lighting.

Imagine dealing with the hassle of power outrage now and then but with solar lights, that’s not the case.

The following are some of the benefits that solar lights provide. They include;

  • They provide reliable illumination.
  • Solar lights are a renewable form of lighting.
    This implies there is a continuous conversion of sunlight into direct current to provide the lighting at all times.
  • Solar lights are very mobile making it easier to move them from one location to another. The solar light does not have cords of wiring connecting them hence making them mobile.
  • Solar lights are much cost-saving.
    Even though buying the whole set of solar lights is expensive, there are quite benefits you get once you acquire there will be no electricity expenditures at all.
  • Solar lights require less or no maintenance as long as the installation process is done the light way.
  • Solar lights are available in so many different styles, shapes, and sizes.
    They can serve for functional purposes and also bring aesthetic value making the environment more beautiful.
  • Solar lights are environmentally friendly. Solar lights use renewable resources in this case sunlight.
    This reduces the rate of carbon emission from non-renewable resources.
  • Solar lights operate automatically hence require no manual operation for them to work.

One of the Benefits Of A Solar Light is Mobility

One of The Benefits Of A Solar Light is  Mobility

Limitations Of Solar Lights

Even though solar light comes with a lot of benefits it as well has drawbacks/limitations. These limitations include;

  • Solar lights require constant monitoring especially if they are in areas with extreme weather changes.
    Conditions such as snow or moisture accumulating on the solar panel will reduce the rates of energy which leads to low current.
  • Requires replacement of batteries especially if the batteries are rechargeable.
    This is because there is an exhaustion of these batteries over time making them less effective.
  • Solar lights are very expensive compared to any lighting. The initial cost of investing in solar lights is so high making a lot of clients less reluctant.
    But in the long run, it’s saving you a lot of hassle with electricity bills and also the cost of maintenance.
  • Solar lights are at great risk of theft. Although the solar rights are non-wireless, they pose a high risk of theft.
    The components that make up solar lights are very costly which makes them valuable even without wires.

Features To Consider When Buying Solar Lights

Environmental conservation in terms of climate is making a lot of people shift to renewable resources. Solar lights are one of this renewable resource as it uses sunlight to produce a current which powers the solar lights on.

Before buying solar lights their important factors that you should consider. These factors include;

Lighting Efficacy

This generally measures the amount of light that the solar lights produce to the levels of energy consumption.

Having solar lights with high lumen does not mean it’s more effective but rather you should concentrate on the level of illumination.

The Different Levels Of Illumination

The recommendable levels of illumination should be 4:1.

This is a ratio showing the brightest and darkest regions which is acceptable by Illuminating Engineering society.

Passive Infra-red Motion Sensors

You will find most of the solar lights especially those used on streets with passive infrared motion sensors.

The purpose of these passive infrared motion sensors is to prolong the battery’s life.

Energy Storage Levels With Batteries

The solar lights obtain their energy from the sun which converts to the current through the photovoltaic effect.

These current powers the solar lights to serve the purpose you want.

It’s important to choose a battery and solar panel that have high-capacity storage.

They will be able to fully conserve energy.

It’s also important to ensure that the solar panel and battery are it’s the right ratio.

The solar panel should have enough amount of energy to charge the batteries which in turn lights up the solar lights.

Distance And Angle Of Detection

You should also put into consideration the distance and angle of detection.

In most cases, the detections angle ranges from 120 degrees to 180 degrees.

Again, check on the detection distance.

Always choose solar lights with a high angle of detection as well as high detection distance for better and wide coverage of large regions.

Waterproof Rating

For outdoor solar lights always ensure that you buy one that has high water resistance. Ingress protection measures this tendency of water resistance.

For instance, if you find a solar light with IP65 and above it’s the best option especially if the solar lights serve outdoor purposes.

Types Of Solar Panels To Use With Lighting Systems

Ideally, there are three types of solar panels that work best with the lighting system.

Each of these solar panels determines the cost of production and installation, it also affects the appearance of the lighting system.

This solar panel includes;

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Although it’s the oldest type of solar panel it’s more advanced in terms of development. The monocrystalline solar panel consists of about 40 monocrystalline solar cells.

During production, an ingot is formed as a result of placing the silicon crystal via a vat of molten silicon.

The process is continuous by slicing the ingot into wafers which then form a cell.

A complete solar panel involves assembling all these cells.

The monocrystalline solar cells will appear as black but they are not really in black.

This is a result of the interaction of the sunlight with the silicon which is pure.

Monocrystalline Solar Panel

Monocrystalline Solar Panel

Thin-film Solar Panels

This is the latest technology in the solar industry.

The main factor that stands with this type of solar panel is that it’s not made up of silicon.

The thin-film solar panel can be made of different materials such as;

  • Amorphous silicon
  • Cadmium telluride
  • Copper Indium Gallium Serenide

Thin Film Solar Panel

Thin Film Solar Panel

The production of these solar panels involves putting the important material in between a thin sheet of conductive materials.

Then a glass layer mainly provides protection.

This solar panel is very thin compared to the other types of solar panels.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

The polycrystalline solar panel comes from small fragments of silicon crystal that are melted together.

Rather than pulling the silicon crystals out of the vat during manufacturing, it is left to fragment and then cool down.

These fragments are sliced into wafers.

The wafers will be assembled to form the polycrystalline solar panel.

They appear to be blue due to the interaction of the sunlight and the silicon fragments.

Besides, the reflection of sunlight on the silicon fragments is different from that of pure silicon.

Polychrystalline Solar Panel

Polychrystalline Solar Panel

Types Of Batteries To Use With Solar Light Systems

The solar lighting system is becoming one of the best lights systems that many people are opting for.

Not only is environmentally friendly but also cost-saving where you compare with paying electricity bills.

Solar lights use batteries that store the energy which provides the energy to light up at night. Below are the different types of batteries that are used on solar lights. They include;

Lead-acid Battery

It’s the best when it comes to large power consumption devices such as solar lights. The prices of a lead-acid battery are relatively low making it more affordable, unlike the other batteries.

This battery is rechargeable although it takes longer to fully recharge it.

The recharging process of the lead acid is fully saturated to prevent sulfating and any event of recharging.

They pose a great risk to the environment due to lead-acid which is harmful and can easily explode. These are some of the drawbacks of the lead-acid battery.

Nickel Cadmium Batteries

They are easily rechargeable and do not lose their voltage even when the charge is low.

This type of battery is available in all sizes and also has different options when it comes to performance.

One of the drawbacks is cadmium is toxic makes it disposable.

Nickel Metal Hydride

It has a high capacity when it comes to holding the energy making it a better option than the nickel-cadmium battery.

It does not contain any toxic elements making it easy to dispose of.

With poor storage temperature, this battery degrades its value over time.

Lithium-ion Battery

This battery has a higher energy density making it more suitable.

It does require any memory recycling to increase its longevity and requires low maintenance.

The discharge rate is very low making it a better option for solar lights.

In most cases, the cost of this battery is relatively high and has a high tendency of degradation when exposed to extremely high temperatures.

Lithium-ion Phosphate Battery

This battery is an improvement of the lithium-ion battery.

It has low power discharge reducing the need of using voltage regulating circuitry.

Besides, it is compatible with even small size solar lights.

It can operate for 9-12 years and requires no maintenance hence reducing the maintenance cost.

The fact that it can withstand high temperatures makes it a better option for outdoor use.

One of the limitations of this battery it has lower energy densities.

Factors Determining Price Of Solar Lights

The cost of solar lights is not uniform for all solar lights. Normally the cost of solar lights is dependent on;

  • The size of the solar panel
  • Brand and quality of the solar panel
  • Type of installation equipment.
  • Energy consumption

How Long It Takes To Charge Solar Lights

It’s advisable to install solar lights where they can get direct sunlight to charge fully.

Solar lights need approximately 4 to 12 hours to complete recharge.

With this capacity, it’s guaranteed to light up throughout the night. The solar light will be able to light up approximately eight hours when it’s fully charged.

Factors Affecting Efficiency Of Solar Lights

Several factors influence the efficiency of solar lights.

That is the rate at which the sunlight is converted into energy that powers the solar lights.

These factors include;

  • Temperature: Decrease in temperature results in high efficiency of the solar lights. An increase in temperature results in low efficiency of the solar lights.
  • Solar shadings: Solar shading affects the sensitivity of solar lights.
    Solar shadings decrease the capability of the energy delivered which results in low power output.
    To prevent this loss of energy use bypass diodes that create a path of the flow of current even when there is shading.
  • Energy conversion efficiency: The change of spectral irradiance greatly affects the amount of power generation.
    To increase the efficiency the incident light reflection should be low.
  • Operation and monitoring: Operation and monitoring services help regulate and mitigate any possible hazard.
    With a good monitoring system, it’s easy to detect any anomaly in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Inclination, orientation, latitude, and climatic conditions: These factors determine the amount of energy that the solar panel receives.
    When these factors are considered it’s a guarantee to get maximum energy for the solar lights.
  • Maintenance: Proper and regular cleaning of solar lights is important. This increases the amount of energy absorption which is converted to current.
    Additionally, it allows the solar lights to absorb the energy effectively.

Cause Of Solar Lights Failure

The following are the possible cause of solar failure. They include;

  • Dead batteries: The battery is probably holding less energy or it does hold any energy at all.
  • The switching position of solar lights is incorrectly set.
  • The battery does not have any charge. This means the solar lights will not light at all.
  • Solar lights are not switching on at night. This is a result of solar lights not charging at all during the day.

How To Switch Solar Lights On/Off?

The solar lights contain an internal that turns the solar light bulb on when during the night and off when dawn approaches.

If you are using the solar lights make sure to turn on the solar lights. The battery recharges itself.

If the solar lights are not in use, you should turn them off.

Best Maintenance Practices For Solar Lights

Solar maintenance is very crucial as it ensures that the solar lights last longer while still working effectively.

Below are some of the best maintenance practices for solar lights;

  • Keep the solar lights away from any shadings
  • Always ensure that the inverters are lighting in green color
  • You can install automatic cleaners to do the cleaning for you.
  • Ensure that you understand solar lights servicing information which is always given as a manual.

Factors Determining Battery Lifespan Of Solar Lights

The longer the solar lights last the more you get to enjoy services. The durability of the solar lights is mostly determined by:

  • Different environments
  • Climatic conditions and when the time when sunlight comes out.
  • Material components that make up the solar lights.

How Static Solar Lights Compare To Flashing Solar Lights

Normally, static solar lights are for regular usage but when it comes to flashing solar lights, they are only applicable for the flashing lights only.

Flashing Solar Light

Flashing Garden Solar Lights

Quality Standards And Certifications Solar Lights Should Have

The following are some of the standards and certification that guards the solar lights;

  • Feck
  • Ce
  • Pico-PV
  • SHS Kits
  • Rosh

Why IP Rating Is Important In Solar Lights

The IP rating is also known as Ingress protection. IP rating rates how the light source is safe from external elements such as solid objects or liquids.

This rating helps determine where you can mount the solar lights and how much external force they might come into contact with.

Mounting Options For Solar Lights

It’s important to best choose which mounting option you want for the solar lights.

There are two mounting options that you can use to mount solar lights.

They include;

  • Use of poles. It involves the use of different styles and configurations. These styles include;
  • Aluminum and steel poles
  • Anchor base or direct burial poles
  • Use of SEPCO fixture brackets. This can either be in the following styles;
  • Side of pole upsweep brackets
  • Side of pole tenon brackets
  • Side of pole hone bracket
  • Decorative bracket
  • Direct burial fixture bracket

An Aluminium Pole Used To Mount The Above Solar Light

An Aluminum Pole Used To Mount The Above Solar Light

Solar Lamp Ready To Be Mounted On A Decorative Bracket

Solar Lamp Ready To Be Mounted On A Decorative Bracket

How To Determine Wattage For Solar Light?

The wattage output of the solar lights differs from manufacturer to manufacturer and fixture to another fixture.

Normally high wattage does not guarantee more light illumination, the illumination maybe less.

Every fixture contains a standard range of this LED wattage depending on its application.

For instance, small signs will have 3.4Watt FLAB mini flood to 2.5-Watt ARF floodlights for larger signs.

Additionally, the color of the light also affects the wattage of the solar lights.

These colors change the lighting requirements and the amount of wattage required to illuminate a place.

Lastly, understanding the different pattern distribution.

Best Material for Making Solar Lights

The best material for making solar lights is normally silicon material, especially crystalline silicon.

It is a semiconductor of electricity making it the best option.

Furthermore, it has higher durability and is more efficient during energy conversion in solar cells.

GoldMore offers high efficient and reliable solar lights in the market.

We also support OEM business while guaranteeing competitive prices – contact us now.

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