Solar Patio Lights – The Advantages and Disadvantages
For the most part, it’s hard to find significant reasons not to incorporate solar patio lights into an overall backyard landscape lighting design. The initial main reason most people strongly consider the option of installing solar patio lighting is because of how inexpensive they are to operate. In fact, after the initial acquisition and installation costs (if any), you shouldn’t expect any sort of increase at all to your electricity bill as a result of running them!
And that’s a good thing, right?
But there are other compelling reasons to use solar landscape lighting. And then there are also some drawbacks you need to fully consider as well.
Here are a just a few points (both good and bad) for you to consider that will hopefully help you to make the best informed decision:
(1) Solar patio lights don’t require extensive electrical wiring – For many people, the idea of working with such things as transformers, wires and cables is a daunting task. This can be especially unnerving when these electrical components will be situated in places where they will get wet or require servicing in the future.
Solar-powered outdoor lights eliminate all of these potential problems and concerns. Pretty much all you have to do to install these outdoor lights is to stick them in to the ground.
It doesn’t get any easier than that!
(2) Outdoor solar lighting is easy to incorporate into complex lighting designs – For an outdoor patio design that features a pergola, you may wish to incorporate a wide array of lighting effects (like outdoor string lights) that fully take into account all of the features of both the patio and the pergola.
Getting a job like this done with electrical lights is going to be a bigger job than most homeowners are equipped to handle. But with outdoor patio lights (which come in almost every type, option and size you can can think of) this job can easily be accomplished.
If you want to experiment with different lighting angles, it’s simple and easy to move these lights around to see which angles you like best. Now, if you are using low-voltage outdoor patio lights (with its fairly static wires and cables) this kind of experimenting is not so easily done.
(3) Solar lighting is the least expensive form of landscape lighting over the long haul – You may be surprised to learn that, in general, outdoor solar lighting is more expensive to purchase than comparable electrical lighting.
But this is in the short-run.
In the long run, outside solar lights will end up costing far less because they cost virtually nothing to operate and maintain. The most significant maintenance cost you can expect with any type of outdoor solar lighting is what it will cost to replace the rechargeable batteries.
On top of being trivially easy to install and just about maintenance-free, solar lights also are safe, reliable and incredibly versatile. You pretty much are only limited by your imagination in terms of the best way to incorporate solar patio lights. Take a look around on the Internet and you’ll find I’m not joking around – the styles and options are virtually limitless.
Okay, so now for the bad news about solar patio lights:
(1) Solar lighting will not work well in shaded areas and are negatively affected by poor weather and seasonal changes – It stands to reason that lighting which gets its energy from the sun is not going to work well during shorter seasons and during foul weather. Additionally, if your solar panels happen to be covered by leaves or snowfall, this also will negatively affect the charge the panels are able to receive from the sun.
Now, you can always remove the batteries from the lights and use a charger to recharge them. But this solution quickly becomes impractical when you are working with a large number of solar lights.
And, should you decide to go this route, you’ll need to keep in mind that rechargeable batteries can be recharged only so many times before they completely die. The death of these batteries will be further helped along due to the fact that solar patio lights fully drain the batteries with each night’s use.
For this reason, the majority of all solar lighting used in patios, decks and anywhere else in the yard now use LED garden lights, which consume extremely low levels of energy.
(2) Solar-powered lights cost more than comparable electric-powered lights – As mentioned earlier, you should expect to pay a bit more (up front) for this form of landscape lighting.
The only time this relatively minor setback should give you cause for concern is when you plan to install a great number of outside lights. In this case, you probably should do a more in-depth analysis of the potential up-front costs with the proposed operating costs of both solar and electrical options.
(3) Solar lighting is generally not as bright as electrical lighting and also does not stay bright over extended time periods – These two points should carefully be considered before committing to any form of solar lighting – let alone solar patio lights.
On top of this, you should consider that solar lighting typically can’t be simply turned on or off on as-need basis, but rather is switched on and off by light meters that turn on at dusk and switch off at dawn.
So what to make of all the pros and cons of solar patio lights?
Outside patio lighting is a great form of lighting if all you need is a “not-so-bright” light that is going to be “ready to go” the very day you bring them home from the store. So, as long as you don’t need the lights to shine very brightly and it isn’t paramount for these lights to stay on all night, every night, solar lighting is a great choice.
In the best of situations, solar patio lights compliment traditional electrical lighting.