Everything You Need To Know About Solar Lights

Everything You Need To Know About Solar Lights

Ready to update your property’s outdoor lighting to something bolder, more beautiful and more manageable? While there are endless options on the market, you generally have one big choice to make: whether to go solar or a wired electrical system.

It makes practical and financial sense to choose solar lights for your outdoor space. Not only do they highlight the unique features of your landscape, they do so using only clean, renewable energy. Solar lights save you money immediately, since they cost nothing to operate. But not all solar lights are created equal—you only get the best return on your investment if you select high-quality fixtures that are built to last.

Here’s an overview of everything you need to know about solar lights, so you can make the best decision for your property. Check out some of the most common solar lighting FAQs below!

How long do solar lights last?

The lifespan of a solar light depends on several factors, but the most important is quality.

On average, off-the-shelf solar lights you’ll find at your local big-box store can last for one to two years. The battery is often the first component to fail with solar lights. Low-quality lights often feature substandard batteries that only last a few seasons—or even less if you live in a very cold climate.

On the other hand, an investment in top-quality solar lights can last much longer—up to and beyond a decade. Premium solar lights often feature a lithium-based battery that’s extremely reliable, along with photocells that stand up to the wear and tear of everyday use.

What are the advantages of solar lights?

There are several distinct advantages of solar lights. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key benefits of solar lighting systems and their accessories:

  • Clean energy. Solar lights run on clean, renewable energy. They draw power from the sun’s rays—a resource that can’t be depleted. Solar lights efficiently and cleanly convert sunlight into electricity, all without creating any dangerous byproducts.
  • Money-saving. Looking to save money on your electricity bill? Solar lights are the solution. Since they run on clean, renewable energy, you’ll enjoy their gorgeous illumination without spending a penny more on your energy bills.
  • Easy installation. Since solar lights aren’t wired to an electric power source, they’re incredibly easy to install. That means it’s simple to make any changes to your lighting design as you see fit. 
  • A comprehensive solar lighting strategy can boost the curb appeal of any home or business. High-quality solar lights not only produce beautiful illumination for your outdoor spaces, the fixtures are even attractive in their own right. With well-positioned solar lights, you can highlight everything that makes your landscaping special, such as fountains, specimen plants, statues, pools, and more.

What are the disadvantages of solar lights?

There are very few disadvantages of solar lights. Since they’re long-lasting and run on clean energy, they’re an affordable, reliable outdoor lighting solution. They rely on moderate temperatures and abundant sunshine, so installing them in colder climates—or areas that don’t get a lot of sunlight each day—can affect their operation.

In areas where temperatures get cold and sunlight is weaker, photovoltaic cells don’t perform as well, and the cold temperatures can reduce battery efficiency. That said, investing in high-quality solar lights can overcome many of the common drawbacks you’d expect from substandard solar lighting options. Premium options are designed with durability in mind, so they’re able to operate better in colder climates than other products on the market.

Can solar lights be left outside during winter?

Like any outdoor feature you add to your landscape, solar lights are exposed to the elements day in and day out. While many solar lighting options you’ll find at your nearest big-box store won’t hold up to temperature fluctuations (especially cold winters), many high-caliber solar lights are rated for constant outdoor use. You can leave them outdoors all year round, no matter how low the temperatures dip.

While it’s true that solar lights work best in warm weather with abundant sunshine, you can still count on your lights to burn bright throughout the winter, as long as you keep the solar panels free from snow, ice, or other debris so that they can soak up the sun’s rays.

Do solar lights charge when turned off?

Most solar lights charge even when they aren’t turned on. By turning them off, you can ensure the battery gets a full charge as it soaks up sunlight over several days. High-quality solar lights don’t need to be turned off every day to get a full charge. They generally only require a minimum of 7 hours of sun exposure per day to run for at least four hours at low intensity.

You also have the option to adjust the intensity of the lights. For example, during the short days of winter, your solar lights will be able to soak up enough sunshine to burn at lower intensities throughout the night. Just remember to adjust your brightness intensity setting on your solar module when the sun starts setting earlier.

Will solar lights work in the shade?

While you can still get some illumination from solar lights that are placed in shade, you won’t get maximum performance from your lights. Solar lights rely on abundant sunshine as they convert the sun’s rays and store the energy in the built-in battery. Most efficient solar lights require at least 10-12 hours of sun exposure every day to achieve a full charge and substandard options require even more. If you want to get the best possible performance from your solar lights, place them in spots that receive abundant and unfiltered sunshine every day.

How many lumens is a good solar light?

Outdoor landscape lighting experts agree that the ideal lumen range for an outdoor lighting fixture lies between 50 and 700 lumens. Most solar lights—especially the ones you’ll find at big-box stores—claim to have lumen ratings within this range, but that’s only if they’re working correctly and they’ve stored up enough sunlight.

Substandard solar lights require more sunlight to run than high-quality models. They have trouble efficiently soaking up, storing, and releasing sunshine, so it often takes them a few days of full sun exposure before they can burn brightly for an entire night. Meanwhile, top-tier solar lights only need 10-12 hours of sun exposure for a full charge to burn all night at a maximum lumen rating of 200. That’s more than enough light to highlight your landscape, create a safe, well-lit perimeter around your property, or light paths and walkways.

What should I look for when buying solar lights?

When it comes to solar lights, quality matters. While it can be cheaper to pick up a generic solar light at your nearest home improvement chain store, you get what you pay for. These lights often last only a few seasons, and their batteries often don’t hold enough of a charge to provide consistent illumination overnight.

Investing in quality solar lights pays for itself—they require less frequent replacement, and they’re completely powered by clean energy from the sun. If you’re investing in an outdoor solar lighting system, you need a product that will serve you well for years to come. Look for fixtures that are well-designed and crafted from quality materials. You should also look for options with durable batteries. You want your outdoor lighting system to serve you all night.

Here’s what to look for in a high-quality solar light:

  • Adequate brightness. Many people wonder whether solar lights emit enough brightness to adequately light a landscape as well as wired lighting systems. The truth is, not all solar lights are bright enough to give your outdoor space the illumination it deserves. High-quality solar lights should emit at least 50 lumens and up to 200 lumens when fully charged.
  • Easy installation. One of the perks of solar lights is that they don’t require wired connections to operate. Even so, some solar lights have complicated installation procedures for the fitting work. As you’re searching for the right fixtures for your landscape, take a close look at installation manuals. Look for fixtures with a simple installation process—it not only affects the initial set-up, but also the repairing process. A repair will always involve re-installation.

What outdoor features can I highlight with solar lights?

Solar lights have come a long way in recent years, to incorporate new technologies and design features. High-quality solar lights not only integrate well within a landscape, they also enhance its overall beauty. You can find specialty solar lights that are designed to highlight specific features in your landscape and outdoor space, including:

  • Solar pathway lights. Illuminated pathways provide both visual appeal and safety to a landscape design strategy. They make it safer for you and your guests to navigate sidewalks and paths after dark.
  • Solar flood lights. Want bright illumination over large areas? Solar flood lights are an energy-efficient way to light expansive spaces, and you can even use them to highlight plantings around your home.
  • Solar garden lights. These lights provide direct illumination for garden beds and plantings around your home. They’re an optimal way to illuminate the natural foliage of your property.
  • Solar security lights. Secure the perimeter of your property—or anywhere else—with high-quality solar security lights. They mount easily anywhere you might need some extra light.
  • Solar shed lights. Illuminate the areas around garages, boat docks, door entrances, construction sites and more with mountable solar shed lights. They’re a great accent feature and security safeguard rolled into one!

Do solar lights stay on all night?

No, not all solar lights stay on all night. Generic models you’ll find at the big-box stores claim to shine brightly all night after soaking up energy from a day of average sunlight, but they never really perform like they’re supposed to. You may look out your windows at night only to see that your lights are shining dimly—if at all.

High-quality solar lights can shine brightly all night after an average day of sunlight. If they’re positioned in a clear area where they can soak up at least 10-12 hours of sunlight each day, they’ll illuminate your outdoor spaces all night long.

How do solar lights work?

Solar lights use the sun’s energy to run, relying on two key components to turn sunlight into energy to provide illumination after the sun goes down.

Photovoltaic (PV) cells absorb the sun’s energy, creating an electrical charge that moves through the panel. The PV cells are wired to the battery, where the energy is converted and stored as chemical energy until it’s needed. As the sun sets, the lights use this chemical energy for illumination.

A component called the solar cell stops converting sunlight as the sun goes down and darkness sets in. A built-in photoreceptor on the solar light detects when conditions start to get dark, turning on a light made of several long-lasting LEDs. The battery uses stored energy to power the light throughout the night.

High-quality lights require only 10-12 hours of sunlight exposure each day to shine brightly all night long. Since they’re powered solely on clean, renewable energy, solar lights aren’t just good for the environment—they’re also good for your wallet, saving you money on your monthly electric bills.

How do solar lights know when to turn on?

Solar lights feature built-in photoreceptors that sense when the sun goes down and darkness approaches. As the photoreceptors detect low light levels, they “tell” the light that it’s time to turn on. The light fixture draws power from the battery, burning bright throughout the night.

Do solar lights need batteries?

Yes, solar lights need batteries, but not the kind you’d use in electronics like television remotes, battery-powered clocks or other appliances. Solar lights are equipped with batteries that store chemical energy created by photovoltaic solar cells. They receive and store this energy throughout the day. As nighttime approaches and the lights’ photoreceptors sense the darkness, the light turns on and draws energy from the battery to stay illuminated.

Are solar lights wired or wireless?

Solar lights aren’t wired, which makes installing them and making any adjustments to your lighting strategy simple and easy. Conversely, wired landscape lighting requires a complex wiring system. The electrical cables are buried underground, with power running from the transformer to each light fixture.

In short, if you want to make any changes to your lighting strategy, you’ll need to do a lot of digging and disturbing your landscaping. Solar lights don’t require a professional for installation, so you can stick them in the ground on your own. Wired lighting sometimes requires the expertise of a professional installer, unless you’re a professional yourself.

How much do solar lights cost?

As with just about any consumer good, the price of solar lights varies depending on quality. While you could visit your nearest big-box home improvement store and pick up an off-the-shelf model for a nominal fee—often between $40-$75, you get what you pay for. These lights typically will only work for a few seasons and  produce inconsistent light (especially if you live in a cooler climate).

High-quality solar lights can be a few times more expensive than the generic models you’ll find in a nearby store, but again, you get what you pay for. These lights are designed with reliability and performance in mind. Many of them last longer than five years, providing consistent illumination powered by clean energy. If you’re looking for the best possible return on your investment, the upfront cost for high-quality lights pays for itself. You won’t need to replace your lights every few seasons, and you’ll enjoy stunning illumination that highlights the unique features of your landscaping for years to come.

Is buying solar lights worth it?

Buying solar lights to illuminate your outdoor space is worth it—but only if you invest in quality fixtures. While the cost of every solar light varies depending on the type and size of the fixture, they’re generally more affordable than low voltage wired lighting options.

If you’re selective about the fixtures you choose for your property and choose high-quality lights rather than the options you’ll find at any big-box store, you’ll enjoy long-lasting lights that will serve you well for years to come.

Additionally, solar lights run on clean, renewable, and completely-free energy. By transforming sunlight into usable energy, solar lights are a sustainable solution to outdoor lighting, and you won’t pay a penny more on your electric bills. It’s an investment that makes practical and financial sense.

Invest in quality solar lights

Need help choosing the best outdoor lighting strategy for your home or business? Going solar isn’t just great for the environment—it’s also great for your wallet. 

If you’re looking for reliability, easy installation, and a great overall value, it pays to make a premium investment in solar illumination. Contact SunTino today to transform your property with beautiful solar lights.