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Solar Lighting Guide: Why & How To Choose Solar

MItchell Elworthy

Solar lighting is no longer a novelty; it’s a widely accepted, reliable form of lighting for both private and commercial properties.

Ignoring the environmental credentials for a minute, solar is easy to install, cheap to run and largely portable too. When you consider the sustainability angle, it’s really hard to look past them. However, we know there’s a lot of information out there and it can be confusing. This guide will cover:

If you have any questions not covered by our guide, our knowledgeable team are on hand to help. You can also discover our extensive range of solar lights here.

 

What are solar lights?

If you were to take a look at the rooftops of buildings in major cities, you would likely find a bevy of solar panels. However, solar panels are also being used in residential yards and other spaces across Australia. To put it in the simplest terms, solar lights convert the sun's energy into electricity so you can use it for lighting. They can store this energy, too, meaning they can charge during the day and be ready for use when it gets dark.

The conversion process is complex and dependent on a number of components ranging from charge converters to inverters, batteries, solar panels and more. Every single one of these components plays an important role in the conversion process to give you the light you need.

Perhaps the most crucial thing to know, however, is that solar lights need natural light to work. Solar lights will not charge from other lights but they also don’t need direct sunlight so, even on a cloudy day, they will recharge.


Do solar lights all have solar panels?

Solar lights often come with a connected panel but they may also the solar cells built into the shell of the light. This is often the case with smaller lights, meaning they are more discreet.

What are solar panels made of?

Solar panels are comprised of solar cells (usually silicon), encased with metal and glass. These silicon solar cells are crystalline structures formed by covalent bonds between electrons in the outer shell of silicon atoms. 

How do solar lights work?

The solar cell, also referred to as the photovoltaic, converts the sun's light into the electrical current required for lighting. The solar cell has multiple crystalline silicone layers and chemicals. These are the elements necessary to create several layers of spaces with positive charges and electrons with a negative charge.


The sun moves into the solar cell, stimulating the negatively charged electrons, pushing them to the spaces with a positive charge.
The spaces with the positive charges transfer the electron stream in the form of electricity. The solar cell's wires send the current to the battery. The battery stores this electricity across the entirety of the day.


Sunlight is no longer converted to energy during the evening hours after the sun has set. During this time, the photoreceptor within the solar light identifies the darkness, triggering the light to turn on. The battery then supplies the necessary electricity for nighttime illumination.


Can solar lights be used indoors?

You can use solar lights indoors but it does require more effort to install. Outdoors, the lights can just use the sun directly whereas indoors panels have to be placed outside and connected to the lights indoors.

A useful option if you’d like to save on your bills and be more green is to install solar panels and feed into the grid. Solar feed-in tariffs are available to households and businesses that contribute power to the grid so while you’ll still use “normal” electricity for your lights, you will get a cheaper rate. You can, of course, still use your solar lights outdoors.

 

The benefits of solar lighting

Going straight to the point, solar lights are worth the investment. We regularly speak to customers who are happy that they made the switch.


1. A Renewable Source of Light

Image result for solar plant

Solar power is a renewable form of light and energy. When you go solar, there is no reason to worry about running out of light as the sun will always rise. Even on a cloudy day, your lights will be busy converting energy so you can rest knowing that your home or business will be well-lit.

Unlike finite resources, solar isn’t hit by supply shortages. When there’s a power cut, your solar lights won’t be impacted. This is why solar panels and lighting have become so popular in the bush and storm-prone areas.

Even as a back-up source of lighting, solar lighting is worth its weight in gold when you lose power.


2. No cables: Mobility, safety & keeping the burglars away

Think back to all those times you had to run a cord to your lights in order to make them work. There is no need to run any such cords when you make the transition to solar-powered lighting. You will be provided with a steady source of power without pesky cords that pose a trip hazard. 

However, this is just a fringe benefit. The true value of cable-free solar lights is what that means in practice:

  • You can easily move them around, ideal if you like to give your property a refresh every now and again. You can also move them for charging purposes if you’re trying to light a particularly dark area - move them to a sunny spot to charge then put them back ready for use.
  • Without the cables, there is no chance of a child, dog or visitor being electrocuted, becoming strangled or tripping on these cordless lights. The icing on the cake is the fact that solar lights pose no threat of overheating. You can place these lights anywhere you desire without worrying.
  • On the subject of safety, solar lights are ideal for protecting from burglars and unwanted guests. Whereas traditional lights can be unplugged or have their wires cut, this isn’t possible with solar lights. We have seen a sharp increase in solar security lighting for this very reason.

The flexibility of cordless lights is why solar work lights have become so popular with tradies. We’ve even seen people grabbing one of their solar lights for a late-night dog walk!


3. Solar Lighting is as Green as It Gets

Wouldn't it be nice to reduce your energy bill while doing your part to save the planet? Make the shift to solar-powered lighting and you will minimise your carbon footprint as these lights are completely powered by the sun. There is no sense using non-renewable energy sources that are finite and costly when you can harness the power of the sun to illuminate your living or working space.

This unlimited source of energy will not be depleted.


4. Solar Lighting Saves You Money

Image result for savings and financial literacy drives and advocacies

Though it costs a bit of money to buy solar lights or install solar panels, this initial investment pays for itself over time Add solar lights to your property and you will no longer have to pay the cost of electricity necessary to keep your living or working space well-lit. The sun will power your solar lights free of charge. All you have to do is pay the initial cost of the solar lights and you will enjoy no-cost lighting from that point onward. With a simple solar light set-up, the installation is also very quick and easy. 

Furthermore, there is no need to buy new cords, plugs or outlets. Solar lights operate with the use of rechargeable batteries thatcharge as soon as the sunlight hits the solar panels. So don't worry about paying for the installation of outdoor outlets or connecting cords to hook up conventional lights. Solar lights are a one-time cost that will end up saving you a bundle of money over the years.


5. No need for maintenance


Solar lighting systems are just about maintenance-free. When properly installed, your solar lights will require little-to-no maintenance but for changing the batteries every 5-7 years. Take a look at the solar light components when changing the batteries. If you notice any of the components are dirty, clean them as necessary. However, there is a good chance your solar lights will prove maintenance-free for as long as you own them.


6. Solar Lighting is Becoming More Diverse

A boat docked on water in front of portable solar lights on the dock

The range of solar lights available has grown significantly and there are now a huge variety of solar lights on the market. From security flood lights to light up your whole front yard to diminutive solar lights to make your deck more intimate and cosy, if you are looking for solar lights of a specific size or style, you will be able to find them . Solar street lights are also becoming more and more popular with a lot of councils and other commercial applications.


Top Solar Lighting Picks

In case you need inspiration, our lighting design team have picked out their top solar lights for this year. These are just a tiny sample of what’s on offer so be sure to check out our full collection or look at our Instagram for more solar lighting styles and designs.

 

For the garden: LED Garden Spike Spotlight 

These portable garden spike lights are perfect for drawing attention to beautiful flower beds or lighting up the garden path. They’re small yet powerful, and have a sleek, modern design.

For security: Smart WiFi Flood Light With Sensor & Camera

An all-in-one solution for security that won’t make you compromise on looks. Suitable for home and commercial use. The lights have an integrated microwave motion sensor and IP camera.

Entry light: Wall Mounted Dusk To Dawn Sensor Light

A best-seller. These lights are hugely popular entry lights for installing above doors. The minimalist design doesn’t draw the eye but provides a highly effective lighting source for visitors.

For the driveway: Traditional Lamp Post With Motion Sensor

With a classic decorative design, these lamp posts are a beautiful addition to driveways. Ideal for when cabling isn’t an option and a touch of class is needed.

For the deck: IP65 LED Solar Strip Lights

Easy-to-install LED strip lighting with a remote solar panel. These are ideal for your deck or balcony, and great for adding some festive cheer at Christmas or parties too.

 

Our team at The Lighting Outlet have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to solar and we’re proud to stock a huge range of products. If you need any product advice, or need help redesigning your outdoor space, our qualified design team are on hand to help.

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Current Discount Terms and Conditions

Every product discounted click here for a best deals! 🎉