This is a guest post from Tim Smith at Modernize.com.
Solar lighting is becoming a more popular way to light driveways, sidewalks, yards, and swimming pools. It is convenient, easy to install (no wiring!), and, best of all, it does not add to your electric bill.
Before purchasing solar lights, however, it’s important to consider if solar is the right choice for your home by doing your homework to make the most of your investment.
If your yard gets several hours of direct sunlight on most days, solar lights may be a great option for you. If your yard is heavily shaded or if you need lighting early in the morning during the winter when the lights may not get a full charge or the batteries may not be strong enough to last through a 12+ hours of darkness, solar lights may not be an ideal solution.
The most popular types of solar lighting are solar path lights and solar spot lights. The solar path lighting is used to illuminate a walkway or driveway, and is self-contained. Solar spot lights,or any type of larger solar light, have a larger solar panel so they will gather more energy to create a brighter light.
Each light contains a rechargeable battery, usually nickel cadmium, and has a solar collector panel. Most units use a LED bulb and the stored power is given off as light each night.
The rechargeable batteries last up to two years on average. You’ll know when it’s time to replace the batteries because the lighting will be dimmer, flicker, or not stay light for very long.
Both the batteries and bulbs are easily replaced when needed. Most hardware or home improvement stores carry the replacements.
Some very inexpensive solar lights do not have replaceable batteries or bulbs, and are discarded when worn out. To minimize your environmental footprint, consider investing in a better quality lights that can be used for years to come.
Place your lights where they will receive some direct sunlight each day and where foliage or shadows from your house do not interfere with sunlight. Also, be aware that winter sunlight is weaker and so the lights are less likely to get a full charge, which means they will not stay on as long during winter months.
If you notice your lights dimming but the battery is good and it’s getting enough light, try cleaning any dirt or debris from the solar panels. Solar panels can be wiped with a damp cloth but they can be delicate so you should not brush the panels.
The cost of solar lighting for your home varies widely, from a few dollars for small, individual lights that are thrown away when worn out, to lights with reusable batteries, and larger lights that can be mounted to provide lighting for pools, yards, or security. Expect to pay around $50 for a set of 8 or 10 good-quality lights to line the walkway and $150 for a decorative lamp post with a more powerful light.
For more home solar information from Modernize.com click here.