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Solar lamps product information

Solar panels are commonly used for generating household electricity and hot water, but there is also a range of products for solar lighting. By combining a solar panel with a rechargeable battery, solar lamps can function without external wiring back to the house, substantially reducing the time and cost of installing them. There are solar powered lights designed for paths and garden beds, spot lights for highlighting trees and garden features, lanterns for patios and gates, novelty lights, signs, and floating lights for ponds.

The most popular choice for solar landscape lighting is the path light, a small light bezel mounted on a stake. They are simply pushed into the ground next to the edges of paths and garden beds, so there is no need to tear up the ground to lay wiring back to the house. They begin charging as soon as there is sunlight available and provide light through the night on a single day's charge. The cost of these lights has fallen dramatically over the past few years and packs containing dozens of lights are available for a reasonable price. There are also larger bollard versions that are better suited to driveways than the smaller lights.

Solar spot lights are used to focus attention on garden features, such as fountains and statues, and to create dramatic lighting effects when directed up at the tree canopy. Some spot lights have their solar panel and battery built into their case, while others have them located a short distance away so the lights can be kept small and discrete. This remote setup also allows several spot lights to be powered from one panel and battery. Some garden figures and fountains already come with solar spot lights built into them, removing the need to install separate lights for them.

Traditional coach lanterns are a popular choice for lighting gates, patios, and postboxes. There are many other styles too, including a range of solar powered Chinese paper lanterns. Solar string lights, also called fairy or rope lights, are threaded around tree branches to create a pretty Christmas tree effect. There are also a wide range of novelty solar lights, such as dragonflies and floating lights used to make ponds more interesting. Luminous signs work differently to solar lights, by using phosphorescent paint that absorbs sunlight during the day and releases it at night. These signs can be used to make house numbers more visible at night.

Lights used for solar landscape lighting have tough weather-resistant cases, usually with their solar panel mounted on top. Modern solar lights still use halogen globes, but an increasing number are using light emitting diodes (LEDs) which use less power and don't burn out like halogens. The battery packs are made from the standard rechargeable cells, such as nickel cadmium and nickel-metal hydride. On a clear day, the small solar panels can recharge the battery in a few hours with enough power to last through the night. The lights are fully automated too, turning off and on as the light level changes, and charging when there is ample light. The only regular maintenance task is wiping dirt off the solar panels every few months. Solar lamps will last for many years until their batteries begin to fail and they are unable to hold enough charge to last through the night.

The large range of solar lamps ensures that every garden can be fitted with some type of solar light. While they are generally cheaper and easier to install than conventional lighting, they do suffer slightly from a lack of brightness. They are perfectly suitable for lighting small areas but larger areas are probably better handled with conventional lighting. However, future improvements in the efficiency of the solar panels and the capacity of batteries should allow solar lights to take over this role as well.

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