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Solar Lighting

Solar technology was first developed all the way back in 1883 by American inventor Charles Fritts; with the first solar lamp arriving in 1955 and was patented by Maurice E. Paradise. Since solar technology’s first days the technology has come on leaps and bound. In the past, solar lighting was seen as a luxury, now it is a cost-effective way to light up your home, commercial or retail environment. You can also use it for an added level of security in domestic and commercial premises. As well as party decorations it provides solutions for garden illumination, floodlighting, hotel signage, driveway and pathway lighting.

LED technology has also increased the efficiency of solar powered based lighting, due to LED lamps typically lasting between 5-10 years. LED lighting also offers additional benefits in comparison to old style lamps that can be used in solar light fittings, such as multiple colour temperatures, producing no heat and being much less energy hungry. Solar panels have become much more efficient at retaining and converting light into electricity, allowing for the batteries within a solar panel to store more in less time. This has improved the efficiency on cloudy days, or in the winter there are less daylight hours.

How long does a solar light fitting stay on?

A solar light fitting will stay on from dusk till dawn using a built-in photocell to automatically switch the solar light on when darkness falls and off again at sunrise. The amount of time constant illumination happens can vary depending on the season, weather and other conditions such as how much light did the solar panel absorb, but generally, a solar light fitting remains on for 10 hours, with a minimum of 7 hours and a maximum of 12 hours.

However, sometimes a solar light fitting can only illuminate for as little as 4 hours. This can be due to a multitude of factors such as poor position of the solar panel, excessive snow covering the solar panel or the battery inside of the solar panel requiring a replacement. If this is the case, we recommend you clean your solar panel to ensure no dust and dirt is obscuring the panel and move the panel out of shade or away from anything that may block direct sunlight. If the issue persists, consider replacing your battery, especially if it has not been changed recently.

Do solar lights work in winter?

Yes, solar lights do work in winter. So long as the solar panel has received enough light to power the batteries, there will be no issues in the darkest season of the year if your unit is set up with the solar panel detector facing south. If you find your solar light isn’t making it through the night during winter, try these tips to ensure you get the best out of your solar light:

  • Avoid shade and anything that can diffuse the light before it reaches the solar panel
  • Ensure the solar panel is pointed directly at the sun
  • Adjust your solar panel’s angle to 45 degrees
  • Clean your solar panel to ensure there is no dust or other outdoor elements obscuring the solar technology inside the panel.

It should be noted that in the cases of very heavy snow, your solar light fittings may be unable to illuminate the full night, as snow will cover the solar panel, preventing it from absorbing the needed light for the battery.

How long do solar powered lights last?

The average life of a solar powered light can vary, but on average, the batteries inside solar lights last between 2-4 years, the LED lights themselves often averaging a lamp life around 30,000-45,000 hours and the solar panel itself lasts between 10-30 years before they need replacing.

As a result of the longevity and ease of installation solar light fittings have become an increasingly popular lighting solution for homes and businesses.

Do solar lights need batteries?

Yes, solar lights require batteries to function, specifically rechargeable batteries. The rechargeable batteries store the converted energy from light ready for dusk till dawn use for the light within the solar fitting. This allows the solar light fitting not to waste its energy illuminating during daylight time,  and instead powers the light during the evening and night.

The batteries inside the solar light fitting can vary, but you will most commonly find lithium-ion batteries or double AA batteries are the choice for storing the energy needed for illumination in the evenings. These batteries typically last between 2-4 years and are easily replaceable, allowing for solar lights to provide short and simple maintenance for long life and illumination.

Do solar lights need sunshine or just light?

Charging the batteries inside solar lights does not actually require light directly from the sun, any form of light is able to charge a solar light fitting. This means indirect light sources from your home, office building, and other garden lights can contribute to powering your solar fitting alongside the power of the sun.

Do solar lights work in the rain?

Solar Lights designed for the outdoors will work in the rain, this is due to the ingress protection rating keeping water and other elements out of the solar light fitting. Solar garden lights will have an IP44 rating or higher, see below the different levels of protection offered by ingress protection:

  • IP44: Only provides protection against solid objects and multi-directional water splashes
  • IP54: Splash-resistant and partially dust-proof
  • IP64: Splash resistant and dust-proof
  • IP65: Full protection from dust and multi-directional low-pressure water sprays

Furthermore, rain can actually help a solar light absorb more light in the future. This is due to the rain washing away any dust or other particles that may have formed over the solar panel overtime as a result of the outside elements.