How to choose solar lights for your yard

Jun 13, 2016

man laying on blanket
Solar lights provide a great solution for adding evening light around your landscape and home’s exterior without the need for electricity. But before you invest in solar lights for your yard, make sure you understand what you need and what you’re getting.

How much sunlight do you need?
Solar lights are powered by photovoltaic (PV) cells that are charged up by absorbing sunlight. The cell converts the natural light (not the heat) to an electrical current. The more direct sun they get during the day, the better the charge–and, in some cases, the brighter the light.
If the area you want to light doesn’t get direct sun for eight or more hours daily, you can still enjoy the benefit of solar lights. Have a remote photovoltaic panel installed on your roof or in a sunnier area of the yard to power your solar lights.

What type of solar light should I buy?
Solar path lights are the most common. You simply push the stake into the ground–along walkways, in garden beds, around water features, or for wall washes–where you want the lighting. Bear in mind that solar lights don’t shine as brightly as electric lights, so plan to purchase more of them.
Decorative solar lights are smaller than solar path lights. You can find them as individual lights or in strings. They’re perfect for giving the look of candlelight. String decorative solar lights around your landscape, place them in mason jars that are hung from trees, or accent your container gardens.
Solar spotlights–also known as solar task lights–are the brightest of solar lights. They provide the equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent bulb, so they’re not as bright as a traditional spotlight. Solar task lights work well when directed at a specific feature in your yard or garden.

Why are some solar lights more expensive than others?
The quality of the PV cells and the size of the solar light’s LED bulb will differentiate one solar light from another. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light.
A solar light that has rechargeable or replaceable batteries is more expensive than those that simply lose their power. When those lights fade, you need to replace the whole unit, not just the battery.

 

Before you go shopping for your solar lights, map out the areas you want to illuminate and how much light you want to shine there. Make a list of your needs so you get all the solar lighting you need in just one trip, without overspending.

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