May 092009

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You may be wondering how solar-powered lights work. Solar lights are used after the sun has gone down. So how can they operate?

First of all, understand that lighting devices which relies on solar power generally use a backup battery to operate. Solar cells are used to charge the battery during the day, and the battery powers the light during the night. The solar cells might be attached to the device itself, or might be located nearby.

This type of lighting is often used in remote locations, where conventional power sources are unavailable, and lights can not be connected to the power grid. They are also used for outdoor lighting, or as landscape lights around the home or garden.

Components of Solar Powered Lights

There are four basic components of a solar powered light. Many solar lighting systems are sold with these components already integrated, but it is good to know what they are:

  • The batteries
  • The lamp
  • The solar cells
  • A charge controller

When purchasing solar lights, the majority of the cost involved will be for the solar cells. These are the most expensive parts of the device or system. Be sure your system is installed within some type of weatherproof housing, so that the solar cells and electrical connections will withstand the elements. Ensure that the electrical parts are protected from moisture at all times.

The charge controller is like the “brain” of a solar-powered light. It protects the batteries from overcharging, and maximizes the electrical output of your solar cell array. It also controls the duration that the light can operate. Without a charge controller, your setup will not function properly.

Uses of Solar Lights

Most solar powered lights are used to illuminate outdoor gardens and walkways. The lights are generally cordless, and you can move them around easily without the need to dig ditches and run the wires underground.

One disadvantage solar lighting has, in comparison to conventional lighting, is that its stored solar power diminishes over time. That means that while the light may be strong during the first few hours of operation, it will then gradually grow dimmer as the night goes on. This might not be seen as a disadvantage by some, because most outdoor activities occur during the early evening hours. Different solar lighting systems also have different capacities, and some last longer than others.

Keep in mind that solar-powered lights depend on the sun to operate, and their performance can be influenced by weather conditions. If the weather is cloudy or rainy, then the battery power will be lesser than it would be on a sunny day. There are also different levels of quality, where solar lights are concerned – the cheaper ones tend to be less efficient and do not last as long.

Hopefully in the near future, improvements in solar technology can make solar lighting less expensive, and more efficient, even during bad weather.


Anna promotes and educates on the uses of clean energy and solar power. Visit her website on Solar Power to learn more about Home Solar Power.

Or, if you are looking for solar powered lights for your own yard, patio, or garden, you can find a wide selection of solar lights at Solar Powered Lights.

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 Posted by at 10:53 am