Solar Fairy Lights

January 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Outdoor and Garden

Garden Fairy Lighting

Solar lighting has advanced quickly in the last few years with improvements in performance giving great lighting powered by nothing more than natural sunlight.

The two main factors that govern the performance of solar lights are the solar panels ability to capture sunlight effectively, and the quality of the batteries that then store the energy for use after dark.

How Solar Lighting Works

All solar lighting uses basically the same process. A solar panel that can be either externally mounted and connected via a wire or integrated within the light unit itself, captures sunlight as electrical energy and sends it to the rechargeable batteries contained within the light unit.

Solar light used to need direct sunlight in order to be able to charge their batteries efficiently, however in the past few years, the efficiency of solar panels has improved so much that they are no longer dependent on direct sunlight, and daylight is enough to provide a sufficient electrical charge.

solar blue fairy lights

In the UK we have quite a lot of cloudy weather, short days in winter as well as a lot of wet weather. Modern solar lighting is now capable of still charging itself, even on the shortest days of the year and it is the quality of the solar panels combined with quality rechargeable batteries that allow them to perform.

During the day, while it is light, the fairy lights are not activated, due to a light sensor built into the solar panel in the light.

Once night time occurs, the light sensor triggers the activation of the lights, which will then stay lit until the batteries are drained of their charge.

The quality of your rechargeable batteries will make the difference between having working solar lights in unfavourable weather conditions and having no lights at all.

Many solar lights manufactured in the far east have perfectly acceptable solar panels, capable of generating the required energy, but it is the low quality batteries that prevent them from working efficiently.

We asked for their tips on buying the best quality lighting you can…..

Solar Fairy Lights

Fairy lighting powered by solar power are available in strings of 50, 100, 150, 200 and 300 bulbs. Each type, regardless of the string length, has a similar solar panel to charge it.

Solar powered string lights normally have several mode settings, on/off, constant light, and then several different flashing options.

Some manufacturers also include a USB port so the unit can be charged from a computer or laptop if required.

Solar Security Lighting

Solar powered security lighting works in the same way, charging during the day, for use after dark. The difference with security lighting is that rather than being activated by a light sensor that detects sunset, security lights have a built in motion sensor, and will only be activated if the motion sensor detects movement at night.

Security solar lights need to provide a stronger, brighter light than a string of fairy lights so they are equipped with larger solar panels and a bigger capacity battery.

Solar Deck Lighting

Deck lights are counter sunk into the wood of your decking. Solar decking spot lights come it two forms, self contained, with each lamp having it’s own solar panel which is built into the light, and decking lights which have an external solar panel.

External solar panels offer the advantage of allowing you to position the solar panel in the ideal position to capture the most sunlight. If your decking is shaded for part of the day, this is the best way to ensure that your solar lights receive sufficient daylight to function perfectly all night.

Self contained solar deck lights are much simpler to install as there is no wiring required at all, they just need to be secured in position. If your decking gets sunlight for most of the day then these are the ideal solution for you.

Solar Lantern Lights

There are two types of solar lights referred to as lantern lights, the first are chinese paper lantern string lights, the second are individual ‘victorian’ style wall, post or hanging lanterns.

The chinese style coloured paper lantern strings work in the same way as fairy light strings. Victorian lanterns have a self contain solar panel or panels in the top of the lamp, allowing them to be positioned anywhere without the need for mains wiring.

Solar lights give you a lot of freedom to add lighting at a low cost where it isn’t practical or affordable to install wired lights.


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