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Solar Light Frequently Asked Questions

How do solar lights work?

Solar lights work by converting the sun's energy during the day to stored electricity that can be used to power energy efficient light fixtures at night.

Solar lights consist of a solar panel or photovoltaic cell that collects and converts the solar energy, a NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) rechargeable battery that stores the electricity, an LED lamp that emits the lamp, and often a light sensor/timer that automatically turns the light on when the sun goes down.

What's the difference between solar landscape lights and conventional lights?

The obvious difference is that solar lights convert the sun's energy to electricity through a solar panel. Low voltage landscape lights are powered by 12 volt electricity. To make the light source more efficient and long lasting, solar lights generally (but not always) use LED lamps instead of incandescent and fluorescent lamps. LEDs emit light but not heat when electricity passes through them. One LED emits roughly the same brightness as a 2 Watt bulb.

How do I decide if I should use solar lights or low voltage landscape lights?

First decide what you need the lighting for and where it should be installed. If safety and security are you primary motivations, then you need reliable "always on" lighting at night. Solar lighting may not be a good choice because the lights only operate until the battery runs low.

But if you just want accent lighting for esthetic purposes such as around seating areas, pools, ponds, trees or other landscape features, then solar lighting is a great option.

How long do solar lights stay on?

It depends on the size of the solar panel and size of the battery. However, you should be able to count on about 10 hours of light from a fully charged battery.

How bright are solar lights?

Solar lights are not as bright as conventional lights. The LED light source itself casts a different type of illumination. If you want a brighter light, look for light fixtures with more than one LED. For example, accent lighting around a patio, or uplighting trees and plants, may require only one LED per fixture. But for safety reasons, path lighting may need to be brighter and require three LEDs per fixture.

How long do the LED lamps last?

The LED lamps are designed to never burn out over the lifetime of the product, usually 25 years.  The LEDs themeselves are not replaceable in the fixture.

How long do the solar rechargeable batteries last?

The NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) batteries are designed to operate from fully charged to fully discharged. These batteries last at least 1000 nights and are easy to replace after that time.

For more information on solar lights, please read this article on solar post caps lights.

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