Sprucing up an exterior living space is not only for aesthetic satisfaction. With outdoor solar lights, it can also be an energy-saving measure for your home. If you’re considering hitting those two birds with one stone, this guide will be helpful towards understanding the accessories, choosing them properly, and installing them according to your specific geographical conditions.
What Are Outdoor Solar Lights?
Outdoor solar lights contain solar cells, which store solar power to be converted into electricity for later use during nighttime. They usually run on nickel cadmium or lead acid batteries.
Some solar lights are also self-contained units, which means they don’t need to be plugged into or connected to anything to be functional. Others feature solar panels that are removable, so you can dislodge them from the entire fixture and expose them to the sun for power storage.
Types of Outdoor Solar Lights
There are several types of solar powered outdoor lights, which fit varying needs and purposes. Sizes vary, as well, from small pathway markers to high-beam security lights. Let’s discuss them one by one:
Solar accent lights.
The smallest of the available solar garden lights on the market, solar accent lights, also have the lowest illumination capacity. For this reason, they are typically used for marking a specific spot in your garden, or illuminating a hazard you or your family would otherwise trip on in the dark. They also cast a softer glow, which makes them more aesthetically pleasant if you’re going for a certain look in your yard. And they are the most affordable.
Accent lights, however, usually feature multi-crystalline solar cells that charge even in areas and on days that do not get a lot of sun. They also have longer runtimes compared to other types of outdoor yard lights, by virtue of their lower electrical consumption.
To use solar accent lights in your garden, you can opt to place a few hand-blown glass components on some of your flower beds for landscape lighting; you can also string a couple of them over a piece of furniture, such as a table or a set-up of deck chairs.
Solar pathway lights.
These lights are designed to provide illumination for pathways, walkways, and driveways. Available in various sizes, they come as ground stakes, flange mounts, or hanging hooks. Solar pathway lights are not as bright as their electrical counterparts, so homeowners typically use a multitude of them to achieve the same effect.
These are more expensive than accent lights, but they also offer more options when it comes to suiting your power needs. For instance, some path lights have on-and-off switches. This allows you to set the stored power for a later time, such as when you’re having some people over, or celebrating a special occasion. There are also path lights with high-low power settings, colored lenses, and timers.
If you plan to use outdoor solar pathway lights, they’re best used when you place them in areas around your garden far from any other sources of light.
Solar task and spot lights.
The brightest of the solar outside lights, task and spot lights, can produce incandescence equivalent to that of a 40-watt bulb over plants, statuaries, or entryways. Like pathway lights, they are frequently used as a group to provide illumination, but they offer advantages electrical lights cannot.
The first of these is LED lighting. Task and spot lights that feature LED bulbs perform better than electrical bulbs during cold days, by dint of their engineering. Some of them also come with removable solar panels, so you can store power inside them simply by moving the panels to where it’s sunny. And they can burn up to 880,000 hours more than your regular light.
Planning to incorporate them into your garden? They come in various forms that make designing with them a breeze. They are best placed near doors, and where you’d like to spotlight a particular garden fixture such as a tree or plant.
Best Brands for Outdoor Solar Lights
There are several manufacturers of outdoor solar lights, but among the most mentioned are Free-Light and Kenroy Home.
Free-Light’s Disc solar pathway lights are touted to be among the best. They can be mounted on spikes anywhere in your garden, come in adjustable heights for your illumination needs, and are strong enough for adequate impact resistance. The manufacturer also utilizes LED lights for longer and more cost-effective use.
Kenroy Home, on the other hand, has landscape lights with adjustable stakes that you can bury in the ground or drill onto decks for non-intrusive but effective lighting. Their solar panels also come with a switch and timer, and the spacing between each string light is wide enough to make it easy for you to place them wherever you like in your garden.
Factors to Consider When Installing Outdoor Solar Lights
Whichever brands you would prefer for, however, there are factors that merit universal consideration before you choose any solar outdoor light, some of the most important of which include:
Brightness is measured in lumens, and it is important to understand what the number means when choosing lights for specific areas in your garden. Essentially, the higher the number, the higher the glare and coverage of the illumination. So if you’re choosing lights for your pathway, it is best to choose a lumens rating that will not be intrusive. On the other hand, if you’re illuminating a more expansive area (such as around a swimming pool), go for higher brightness.
Number of Lights.
There are solar outdoor lights sold per piece, and there are some that come on a string. The number of lights you will need should depend on the size of the area you’d like to place them in, as well as the type of area you’re illuminating.
Lights that come with replaceable batteries will net you more savings, in the long run. Some lights, you see, stop functioning altogether once the stored power has been used up. So when choosing your lights, opt for those that allow you to swap out batteries for more storage and longer product life.