An LED lamp, solar panels, a battery, a charge controller, and occasionally an inverter are the main components of a solar lamp, sometimes referred to as a solar light or solar lantern. The lamp runs on batteries that are powered by solar panels to charge them (solar photovoltaic panel).
What Does Solar Lighting Do?
Solar lights collect energy from the sun during the day and store it in a battery so that they can provide light at night. Solar lights use photovoltaic technology, just like solar panels do to produce electricity.
What are the Usage Areas of Solar Lighting?
Solar lighting is popularly used to reduce the electricity cost and the effects of global warming. People are going green by reducing their carbon footprints through this amazing breakthrough technology in lighting. Solar panels are used for various gadgets such as torches, watches, calculators etc. as they are a great alternative to traditional sources of electricity. For the purpose of lighting, places which require to be lit up for longer periods prefer to rely on solar lighting such as commercial buildings or roadside safety lights. Huge flood lights, lamp posts are more often than not, solar powered as these lights require to be switched on all night and it is easier to get sunlight to charge the batteries outside. For indoor lighting also, if your house gets ample sunlight throughout the year, it is smart to switch to solar lights.
What types of solar lights are available?
As an ideal addition to your indoor as well as outdoor lighting, solar lights have the potential to change your lighting game for good. Whether you are looking for lights for pathways, driveways or even small areas in and around your home, solar lighting should be your first choice. Their increasing popularity means that the market is flooded with a myriad of options for you to choose from. From basic solar lamps to aesthetically pleasing ones, you can buy all types of solar lamps from the stores. Let us have a look at the most popular ones.
Solar flood lights
Solar-powered floodlight utilises a solar panel to collect energy from the sun and then stores it in a rechargeable battery till that night. The majority of floodlights are CLF, DIH, or LED bulbs. Because the designs are so delicate when placed, the latter is the least often. Although DIH models have a substantially shorter lifetime rating than LEDs, they are brighter than LEDs. LED flood lights are usually the best choice. They are an energy-efficient design that helps lower utility costs while delivering the ideal lighting settings.
Solar powered-motion lights
Solar–powered motion lights are, without a doubt, the next big thing when it comes to energy efficient lighting. If you are still debating whether you should install solar–powered motion sensor lights, we are here to tell you to go for it. These lights are not only excellent for your safety and security but also help you save big bucks on your energy bills.
A solar motion light is a device that controls light to illuminate only when it detects motion. When there is no motion detected, the lighting device switches off automatically. These lights detect movement using infrared technology. The sensors respond when someone enters its detection zone by illuminating the light which stays on for a few seconds before turning off completely if no further movement is detected. This means you do not have to worry if you forget to turn off the lights.
Ambient and decorative solar lights
While not as bright as outdoor solar lights, decorative solar lights have their own charm. Available in different forms like lanterns, globe lights or even string lights, they provide the ideal ambient lighting to set the mood. When used in multiples or alongside path lights, they can also provide a warm ambient glow to aestheticise your outdoor décor as well.
A very simple yet effective application of solar technology, solar lanterns are a very popular alternative of lighting source in rural areas where the power supply is irregular or scarce. Because of their simple mechanism, they have also garnered popularity as good replacements for candles or kerosene lamps in the urban areas during power outages. They have a low operating cost because renewable energy from the sun is free unlike fuel. Additionally, they also do not produce any indoor pollution.
Solar lanterns are made of three main components- the solar photovoltaic (PV) panel, the storage battery and the lamp. The lamp operates by converting the solar energy into electrical energy by the SPV panel. This energy is also stored in a sealed maintenance free battery for later use. A single charge can operate the lamp for approximately 4–5 hours. On some occasions, solar lamps can also be used to supply electricity to other devices such as charging cell phones.
How to Choose the Right Solar Lighting?
The ever growing popularity and need for solar lighting has led to a dizzying array of choices in the market. However, as the options increase, the pressure to choose the right one does too. You may feel overwhelmed when designing the lighting of your house. It always helps to remember that your selection should depend on your lighting needs. Here are some pointers to keep in mind when making your choice for the ideal solar lighting.
Purpose: Make a mental plan of how you wish to use your solar lights. Do you need these to serve a specific function like outdoor security, or are you looking for a decorative fixture? The purpose and the function determine the design choices of your solar lighting. For example, if you wish to install your lights outside, you need to ensure that the fixtures you get are outdoor rated and weather resistant.
Brightness: The desired brightness of the fixture is very much dependent on where you wish to install your fixtures. If you plan to put these up outside as security lights, you need bright lights such as solar powered flood lights or lamp posts. On the other hand, if you are choosing ambient lights, you can go for dimmable or medium bright which are easy on the eyes.
Battery: For solar lights to work effectively at night or during the days with no sun, you need batteries to store the energy. You can choose the batteries depending upon tier charge time, energy storage, dimensions and lifespan. The options include lead acid batteries, nickel–cadmium batteries, NiMH batteries among others. Be sure to carefully learn how long each model takes to charge and how long it runs and make the right choice depending on your needs.
Type of Bulb: While solar lighting is quite energy efficient and cost effective in itself, you are committed to going green, you should pick LED bulbs especially for outdoor uses. They do not only last long and are more efficient than incandescent bulbs but also do not run the risk of releasing toxins into the environment if broken like CFL bulbs.
What are the Advantages of Solar Lighting?
It is no secret that the world is pushing for more renewable energy to avoid the adverse effects other forms of energy have on the environment. Minimising our reliance on fossil fuels ensures that our planet remains a healthy habitat for long. With time, solar energy has proven to be that alternative which, under the right optimisation process, can indeed replace modern energy resources and help us achieve sustainable energy production.
However, there is much to be learned and considered before relying completely on solar energy. It is important to get acquainted with the benefits it offers to both residential and commercial usage. Here are some of the advantages of solar lighting which will convince you to make the switch today.
Solar lighting is environmentally friendly. Solar panels are powered by the sunlight making them a clean and renewable source of energy. They also help reduce pollution as they significantly reduce emissions of harmful gases like sulphur dioxide, nitrous dioxide among others. It also plays a major role in reducing your carbon footprints that have been created by producing electricity from non-renewable sources.
Solar lighting is maintenance free. While there may be a high cost upfront when installing solar lights, they are virtually maintenance free. There may be an occasional need to clean the panel or replace the batteries but not much effort is required to keep your solar lights running for long.
Solar lighting is very cost-effective. Another significant benefit is that using solar energy helps you with lower utility bills since your energy needs are met by the Sun which is available for free. In some circumstances, you also get tax incentives for opting for solar lighting in your household.
Solar lighting is an unlimited source of lighting. Solar energy is inexhaustible. As long as there is sunlight available, there is no reason why one can not produce and harness the energy to power solar bulbs and lamps.
What are the Disadvantages of Solar Lighting?
With all the advantages of solar lighting that we have discussed so far, it is important to also consider the disadvantages that it may present.
The initial cost of installing solar lights can be high. This can include the cost of solar panels, inverters, batteries, wiring, and installation. One may say that this high cost is because you are ideally paying for your next 20 years of electricity. However, the outright high cost may not be affordable for everyone. That said, solar energy is constantly going through developing technology giving hope that in the future, the installation cost may come down significantly.
Solar lighting is weather dependent. Although solar energy can be collected during cloudy or rainy days, its efficiency drops significantly. Solar panels require sunlight to effectively gather solar energy thus making them highly dependent on weather conditions. Winter mornings or rainy days can have a noticeable effect on the solar energy system. One can also not ignore the fact that solar energy is unavailable during the night. However, with storage batteries, you can store some energy to be used later on.
Solar energy storage is expensive. If not used right away, solar energy requires large batteries to be stored. These batteries can be charged during the day so that they are used at night. It is a good solution given that solar energy is not available at night. However, this process can be very expensive. In most cases, it is smarter to just use solar energy during the day and take energy from the grid during the night (you can only do this if your system is connected to the grid). Luckily your energy demand is usually higher during the day so you can meet most of it with solar energy.
Do solar lights need electricity?
Solar lights require solar energy to be converted into electricity in order to light up lamps and bulbs. Hence solar lights have a battery for storing the electric power.
Is Solar Lighting System Natural Lighting?
While the main source of electricity for solar lighting is the Sun, it would not be correct to say that it is a natural lighting system. The electricity produced is generated from natural lighting, however, it is used to generate light by artificial means.