How to Get the Most Out of Solar LED Garden Lights
Solar LED lighting fixtures are increasingly becoming more popular as a mainstay in homeowner’s landscape lighting designs. Today’s outdoor solar lights are environmentally friendly, come in a wide range of attractive styles, and are constructed of high-quality materials capable of withstanding all of nature’s forces.
It’s easy to think of the obvious uses for solar LED garden lights. They are most commonly used as accent lighting for pathways and driveways, where the main goal is either security or safety. Yet solar LED lighting can successfully be employed for many other purposes as well.
All exterior solar lights are popular for the following reasons:
(1) they’re reliable,
(3) easy to install,
(5) and a great source of renewable energy.
The utilization of free solar power to recharge LED light bulbs and batteries, which only need a fraction of the amount of electricity to deliver just as much light as traditional lights bulbs gives solar landscape lights an overwhelming advantage over traditional bulbs in terms of both energy savings and a clean environment.
How To Install Outdoor LED Solar Lights
If you want to get the most out of your garden lighting system, it’s important to consider a few major factors before taking the plunge and purchasing and installing solar LED garden lights
The most important factor by far is sunlight.
Rechargeable batteries are what power your solar garden lights. How long the bulbs remain switched on at night is roughly equivalent to the amount of sunlight the solar charging panel has been exposed to during daylight hours.
As you can imagine, people who live in northern latitudes during winter months are going to have a problem getting enough sunlight to sufficiently recharge their solar garden lights. This problem can be resolved by doing one of two things:
(1) Turn the lights off for one or two nights. Doing this will enable your solar panel to fully recharge the batteries.
(2) Remove the batteries and recharge them using a traditional battery recharger.
An initial primary objective when installing solar garden lights is to situate the solar panels (also known as the Photovoltaic (PV) cells) in an area that receives an abundance of natural daylight. Ideally, you want them to absorb as much sunlight as possible to ensure optimal performance. But the solar panels are able to obtain a reasonable charge even amid overcast days.
Buildings, trees and other obstructions are naturally going to limit the daylight recharging cycle. Consequently, this is going to limit both the duration and brightness of the exterior solar lights once evening arrives.
Another point to consider is whether your solar LED garden lights have a central solar panel or an integral solar panel. Whichever type of panel you have, the solar panel incorporates a slight tilt that enables it to face the most amount of sunlight during the day.
Solar landscape lighting that connects to a central solar panel has two distinct advantages:
(1) Since only one solar panel needs sunlight, the lights can be situated without regard to the amount of sunlight they will receive during the day.
(2) All of the solar garden lights can be controlled from one central location.
But, to accomplish this, you’ll need to connect each of the lights to the shared solar panel through the use of wires.
Exterior solar lights that utilize an integral solar panel do not require wires and are therefore much easier to install. All you need to do is locate each light where you want it to be placed. But, since there is no central solar panel, each light needs to be exposed to as much daylight as possible.
The Best Batteries for Solar Landscape Lights
Once you have factored in the amount of sunlight you can provide for your solar panel, you can then move on to choosing the best battery for solar LED garden lights.
Before you make a purchase of solar garden lights, be certain to check the type of battery that is supplied. If the supplied batteries are of low quality, you may want to consider purchasing higher-quality batteries. Not only will these batteries last longer, but they’ll also improve duration and light levels.
Lead acid batteries have an extremely limited life span and are not very good at holding a charge. Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries perform better, but have the distinct disadvantage of being a fairly toxic heavy metal. This will cause troubles when it comes time to dispose of them because a number of US states and European countries mandate these batteries to be disposed at waste recycling plants.
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries are the best option today because they charge easily and have a terrific life span. Some manufacturers of these batteries claim up 3,000 recharge life cycles, with the range being between 1,000 and 3,000. This means that, if you run a complete recharge/discharge cycle every single day, you can expect your batteries to last 3 to 8 years. On top of this, you can expect your solar garden lights to last longer and look brighter.
Even as this is the case, Lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries are steadily advancing on and taking over from where NiMH batteries left off.
Just be sure to responsibly dispose your rechargeable batteries. A recycling bin is typically provided by stores that sell such batteries.
Just as with most things in life, if you decide to skimp on quality, it’ll end up costing you in the long run. If you do your homework and insist on only the highest-quality solar garden lighting and batteries, you’ll experience first hand just how effective and enjoyable modern solar LED garden lights can actually be.
How to Mix Solar LED Garden Lights with Low Voltage LED Lights
Many people believe it’s not wise or even possible to combine solar-powered LED lights with low voltage LED garden lights. But nothing could be further than the truth. Combining the two very often produces superior results. All you need is a good understanding of what differentiates solar powered lighting from main powered lighting: namely the nature of the power source.
The two main constraints of battery power are:
(1) how much electricity it is able to deliver while discharging, and
(2) how long it can provide a charge.
One affects the other, so a battery will discharge more slowly with a lower load (dimmer light), and more quickly with a higher load (bright light).
Rechargeable batteries found in outdoor solar LED lights can discharge fully over a period of time of up to 12 hours (although between 8 and 10 hours is more common). And this affects how much power they can deliver to light up a bulb or LED light.
This is not a lot of power, and is the reason why the light source contained in many solar garden lighting systems is well below 1 watt. It also explains why solar LED garden lights are so prevalent these days: for the same amount of electricity, they are able to both last longer and deliver much more light.
To put it in simpler terms, solar outside lights provide a softer, more ambient light. While this isn’t always the case, it is the case for the vast majority of solar garden lights purchased in garden stores and DIY stores. For many spaces, this type of ambient light is perfectly suited for the environment it is intended for.
This goes against many people’s objections that solar garden lights simply are not bright enough to illuminate their pathways or driveways. In thinking this way, they completely overlook one of the main advantages of solar LED lanterns – a soft, low-level ambient light.
A well-designed garden and patio lighting design incorporates varying illumination levels, colors and beam angles to create a captivating look and feel that is completely different from what the garden looks like during daylight hours.
This is the whole idea behind the proper implementation of outdoor LED lighting. You have the opportunity to give your garden its own distinct character when dusk arrives. You are only limited by your imagination as to the kind of environment you choose to create. Being able to mix solar LED garden lighting with low voltage LED lights gives you the opportunity create a stunning and captivating display.