my Old Workshop

Solar powered lights for outdoor lighting revisited

Outdoor lighting can be complex or simple. Regular voltage lighting provides more control, the potential for brighter light… and requires proper electrical wiring techniques. Low-voltage lights give you some control (in that you can set them up to turn on and off from the house), lower light levels, and pretty easy installation.

Solar garden lights offer the easiest installation of all, along with the benefits of energy savings. But they do have a few limitations. Here’s a look at these garden glowers.

Solar-powered garden lights use a built-in solar panel that grabs power from the sun and stores it in rechargeable batteries, so that when night falls, they’re ready to run. They’re super easy to install, because they usually require no wiring. And your electrical costs are nil; the only costs you’ll have are replacing bulbs and batteries as required.

They do need to be placed in areas where the sun can reach them, though some lights come with a remote solar panel, which gives you more flexibility in placement. Of course, then you will have to run some wires.

Their charge and length of operation depends on how much sun they’ll get during the day, but with a sunny day and a fully-charged battery, they can run all night with some to spare.

As you might expect, the light is fairly low-level. To conserve energy, most use LEDs, which are now available in a number of colors, including yellowy-orange, and even white light. But for most garden lighting needs, the level is well-suited and atmospheric. As for looks, they come in all shapes and sizes from lampposts to lights disguised as rocks and sculptures.

Most lights automatically come on at dusk and turn off at dawn, and that’s what they’ll do, since they’re not hooked up to your home’s power, and you can’t flick a switch in the house to turn them off. Some do come with manual on/off switches, which lets you have darkness when you want it, and save the charge. But you’ll need to take a stroll around the garden before bed to take care of it.