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Outdoor Solar Lighting Solutions

By Tobias Roberts Rise Writer
Jul 30, 2020

Adding exterior lighting to your home is one way to add visible curb appeal while also adding a sense of comfort, security, and décor. Coming home on a cold, dark winter night to a home bathed in warm, exterior light is inviting and welcoming. In contrast, a dark home façade can often feel depressing and bleak. However, outdoor lighting is often a significant source of energy inefficiency. This inefficiency leads to an increased carbon footprint of our home and a higher monthly electricity bill. The American Medical Association (AMA) released a report documenting several potential human and environmental problems associated with excessive outdoor lighting. 

Fortunately, many companies have begun to develop new outdoor lighting products. These new products incorporate solar energy and LED lighting solutions to offer an energy-efficient solution for exterior home lighting. 

Amazon Maggift Solar Lights
Maggift Solar Lights. Photo Credit: Amazon

Benefits of Outdoor Solar Lighting

Outdoor solar lighting focuses on placing lights in areas that will illuminate your home's exterior areas while also capturing energy from the sun during the day. Small solar panels are placed on the upper casing of these lighting products, which then charge small batteries incorporated into the design of the light itself. The LED lightbulbs usually use low wattage so that only a few hours of direct sun will be more than enough to power the light throughout the long night hours. 

Solar Lighting Uses the Sun's Energy

The most apparent benefit of outdoor solar lighting products is that they pull no energy from the electrical grid. In comparison, a 400-watt incandescent reflector floodlight will most likely be using over three kWh of electricity during a typical eight-hour night. That adds up to 90 kWh of energy a month, which would cost you at least $10 a month to run. This correlates to this one exterior light adding about 110 pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each month since Carbonfund.org estimates that the average CO2 emission per kWh is around 1.2 pounds.

Hot Fashion Solar Lights Walmart
Hot Fashion Solar Lights. Photo Credit: Walmart

Solar Lighting Frees up Energy for Off-Grid Homes

For off-grid homes or homes that produce a significant amount of their energy from solar panels or other renewable energy technologies, small outdoor solar lights will minimize the energy burden on those household renewable energy systems. Instead of using the energy produced by your rooftop solar panels to light up the exterior of your home at night, separate outdoor solar lighting will allow you to take full advantage of your renewable energy solution for more critical needs such as interior lighting, appliances, refrigerators, and heating and cooling. 

How To Install Solar Lighting

Outdoor solar lights require no wiring or cables to be installed, making the installation extremely DIY-friendly. 

Do Solar Powered Lights Require Maintenance?

Once you have set up your outdoor lights in a sunny area, they are virtually maintenance-free. They will continue to work even during extended power outages. The rechargeable battery inside these lights recharges during the daylight hours. After several years of use, the only maintenance task might be changing the rechargeable battery that wears down through extended use over the years. If you're in a colder climate, you will want to be mindful of where the lights are installed and consider the effects of snowfall on this type of lighting.

Hampton Bay Solar String Lights Home Depot
Hampton Bay Solar String Lights. Photo Credit: Home Depot

Wide Variety of Solar Lighting Solutions Available

Another benefit of outdoor solar lighting is that there is a wide variety of lighting solutions available. Some are powerful solar security lights and floodlights that activate with motion sensors and provide high lumens. Others can light up your front path or driveway, and still, others are in string format to add ambiance to an outdoor patio or porch. There are outdoor lighting products suitable for every home. 

Safety and Security With Solar Lighting

Outdoor solar lighting is an inexpensive way to add to your home's overall security and safety. Outdoor floodlights will automatically turn on at night, discouraging vandals and intruders from approaching your house, even when you are not home. Solar path lights can certainly be helpful when trying to navigate your way home during a cold, icy night. 

innogear solar lighting
Innogear Solar Lighting. Photo Credit: eBay

What to Look For in the Best Solar Lighting Products

There are hundreds of companies offering outdoor solar lighting products. Below, we offer a few suggestions about what to look for in the best products and some product recommendations. 

Solar LED Options

Almost all exterior solar lights today use LED lightbulbs. These bulbs, like interior LEDs, use much less energy because they do not create high amounts of heat. For solar-powered lights, the less energy needed to power the lights, the smaller the solar panel and battery. If you do find solar lighting products that do not use LED lights, it is probably best to avoid that product. It would require more direct sunlight and a larger battery to power the bulb throughout the night. 

Solar Lights With Different Lighting Modes 

A feature to look for in outdoor solar lights is different lighting modes that you can use. While outdoor lighting certainly has an appeal, there are adverse effects of being exposed to light all day and all night. One report found that exterior light pollution could affect human circadian rhythms and cause other severe sleep disorders. Many exterior solar lights have different modes, such as dim light or powered off unless activated by motion sensors. These features allow you to enjoy the nighttime darkness for stargazing while still benefiting from solar lighting as required. 

InnoGear is one company offering a wide variety of solar lights with different modes. Their wall-mounted solar lights have two functional operating options. You can set them to stay off and then switch to full bright light for 30 seconds when triggered by motion sensors or to stay on dim light up for 6 hours and then turn off automatically. 

sunforce solar motion
Sunforce Solar Motion Light. Photo Credit: eBay

Solar Lights With High Lumens

One common problem that many people report with outdoor solar lighting products is that they are not bright enough to be useful. Poor manufacturing wherein the company installs less than optimum LED lights into the product usually causes this. When searching for outdoor lighting products, look at the lumens rating instead of the wattage. Wattage is related to power consumption (not very important in solar lights). It does not necessarily relate to the brightness or illumination capacity of the fixture. On the other hand, lumens are the measurement of the total amount of visible light to the human eye. 

For example, a 40-watt incandescent bulb will produce about 680 lumens (or 17 lumens per watt). However, LED lights can produce upwards of 90 lumens per watt. So, this means that a 7-watt LED light can create a similar amount of lumens. For example, this solar motion light, produced by SUNFORCE, produces 850 Lumens of light - making for a bright exterior lighting solution. 

litway solar deck lights
Litway Solar Light. Photo Credit: Amazon

Solar Lighting Charging Time

It is crucial to find solar lighting products that charge relatively quickly. Perhaps you live in an area where direct sunlight is at a premium - maybe your neighbor planted a few large pine trees blocking most of your sun. If that is the case, then a quick charge time will be an essential and vital feature. These Litway solar deck lights can fully charge in as little as six hours, even in non-direct sunlight. 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2022-10-07T16:10:48+0000