Economical, easy to install and such a variety of shapes, solar-powered luminaires have flooded summer cottages and even city streets. Manufacturers, as if mockingly, offer customers a huge variety of them, so that they have turned from a purely functional item into an element of decor. Only now it turned out that it is not so easy to choose a solar-powered street lamp for a summer residence and a garden – the assortment makes the eyes scatter, but we will try to put everything on the shelves and understand how to distinguish a high-quality lamp from a fake.
How does a solar powered light work?
In short and simple, the lamp accumulates sunlight during the day, and at night uses it to illuminate the site. He does this due to the presence of the following elements:
the solar panel is the heart of the lamp, there is a conversion of solar energy into electrical energy;
the battery stores energy during the day to release it at night;
an LED lamp is a direct light source, and it can give both cold and warm glow, and there are lamps with alternating color changes;
the controller controls the operation of the luminaire, charging and discharging the battery. A quality controller is a guarantee that the battery will perform well;
- body and mounts.
In addition, a light sensor may be available, thanks to which the lamp itself turns on at dusk. If there is no such sensor, then you will have to turn on and off all devices manually. A motion sensor can also be useful.
The lamps use small batteries, so they accumulate energy sufficient for glowing for 8-10 hours, but this will be much shorter given a long sunny day, and in the fall the nights are much longer, so in this case lamps with a sensor will be the salvation movement. The service life of the LED is up to 60 thousand hours, but the battery may require replacement much earlier.
Advantages and disadvantages
Solar-powered garden lights have many advantages:
saving electricity, because they generate it themselves;
ease of installation. It is unnecessary to connect the lamps to the mains. Many products are easy enough to dig into the ground, it will take a few minutes;
mobility. If desired, the lamp can be simply installed in a different place by changing the garden lighting scheme. It is just as easy to collect them all and fold them for winter storage;
a wide range of. It is not difficult to find lamps of different sizes and shapes on sale. There are such original products that such lighting will become not only a functional element, but also a decorative one;
- most luminaires turn on and off themselves in response to a change in lighting level;
durability, subject to the purchase of a quality product;
environmental friendliness, because the lamp does not need electricity to operate, which means that you do not need to use coal, gas or the power of nuclear reactors.
Alas, there were some drawbacks, so be prepared for the following features:
- a solar-powered garden lamp is a delicate device: in winter, due to battery cooling, malfunctions can occur, and in summer the device can overheat to the point that the photocell fails;
poor maintainability. Almost all breakdowns lead to the replacement of the entire luminaire;
efficiency depends on the amount of sunlight, therefore, in cloudy weather, and even in autumn, when the day is shorter, the battery will charge poorly, and it will last for a couple of hours of operation. Such lamps cannot be placed in the shade at all;
- ease of installation plays a cruel joke – intruders can easily pull out the lamps;
- a solar garden lamp will not give a powerful stream of light and cannot be compared with an ordinary lantern, therefore they are used for local and decorative lighting.
If you look at the sales statistics and at numerous domestic summer cottages, you can come to the conclusion that the shortcomings of people are not particularly frightening, and the main advantages – efficiency and ease of installation – have provided this device with crazy popularity.
Types of solar luminaires
All luminaires can be divided into two large groups:
Depending on the location, the solar-powered luminaire is of the following types:
bollards – lanterns on poles, used to illuminate garden paths and lawns;
pendant and wall lamps are mounted on fences, walls and poles, used for functional and decorative lighting;
lawn lamps are small in size, used to illuminate rockeries, alpine slides, paths, and other relief elements;
built-in lamps are mounted in the steps of stairs, garden paths, platforms and create a soft light that makes it easier to move in the dark;
lamps for flower bed decoration are distinguished by an almost transparent body, which makes them invisible during the daytime;
luminaires for reservoirs can be floating and intended for underwater installation. Both look very impressive and allow you to highlight a pool, pond or stream;
garland lamps are used to decorate the crowns of trees, shrubs, as well as to decorate verandas, gazebos and terraces;
decorative lamps in the form of animals, stones, heroes of fairy tales and cartoons serve as a decoration in the daytime and are useful at night.
The range of lamps is so wide (and increases every season) that this classification can only be called conditional, but it will help you navigate when choosing and understand what exactly you need.
The glass of a solar-powered garden or street lamp is responsible for the light transmittance, moreover, a photocell is laminated on its plane, so you should pay attention to the material when buying. Glass can be of the following types:
smooth transmits well direct sunlight and a significant part of the scattered;
corrugated due to the complex relief allows you to reflect and redirect part of the sun’s rays, and the power of the lamp increases up to 12%. A good solution for regions where sunny weather is infrequent;
tempered glass is the most reliable and durable, but the product will cost 5-10% more.
Battery type and capacity
In solar lamps, nickel-cadmium batteries are usually installed, which have proven themselves quite well. Nickel-metal hydride batteries are used less often – they last longer, but they also cost more.
If LEDs are designed for 60,000 operating hours, then the battery is a more delicate part of the lamp. A good quality battery needs to be replaced approximately every 10 years. If you decide to save money and take a cheaper flashlight, then there is a high probability that the first battery replacement will have to be done in 1-1.5 years.
Also pay attention to battery capacity, although some manufacturers do not indicate it. Other things being equal, it is better to choose a product with a more capacious battery – such a lamp can store more energy and shine longer at night. However, in order for the battery to be fully charged, the product must be installed in an area with maximum natural light.
Silicon type in lamps
The luminaire longevity depends on the type of silicon used:
monocrystalline silicon is the most reliable, plus it is additionally covered with an oxide film. Well resistant to climatic and chemical influences. The downside is the high price;
multicrystalline in terms of practicality, average. It will last for several years, but no more;
polycrystalline – the cheapest and most short-lived. Already in the second or third season, it will be possible to notice a drop in the glow power and the duration of work.
Degree of protection
An outdoor garden lamp will be exposed to regular moisture: rain, watering, and possibly children’s play. To ensure that nothing is damaged, the case must be adequately protected. When studying the characteristics of the product, pay attention to the letters IP in the marking. After them there should be two numbers – we need a lamp with IP44 and above. For luminaires that are installed under water or on water, the degree of protection against water should be maximum – IP67, and preferably IP68.
The power of garden lights is usually 3 W. This is enough to create soft light and special mood. Such devices cannot be an independent source of light. Street lamps for a country house have a power of about 10 W, which is roughly equivalent to 100 W of an incandescent lamp. Such products can already be used for self-lighting of the site.
Also pay attention to the number of LED bulbs. The more there are, the more light the lamp will give.
What else to consider when choosing?
Anyone looking to find the perfect solar-powered garden light has a few other things to consider:
- if the luminaire is installed on the ground, pay attention to the height of the leg. To illuminate paths, it is necessary that the leg is at least 1 m, for illuminating arbors – at least 1.5 m. Lamps that are laid on the ground or equipped with low legs are suitable only for decorative and auxiliary lighting;
manufacturer’s name. Products from China flooded the lighting market as well. If high quality is in the first place, then be prepared to overpay, because the products of large companies are more expensive, but they will also last longer;
- Review all product specifications, paying attention to battery life.
Installation and maintenance
In order for solar lights to last as long as possible, you should adhere to simple rules:
draw up a lighting project, choose the types of ordinary lanterns and solar lamps, and for the latter, determine the sunniest places;
installation is carried out carefully so as not to damage the lamp;
- during operation, the case must be wiped from dust, which prevents the penetration of the sun’s rays;
- for the period of severe frosts, it is better to hide solar lamps in the room, removing the batteries;
- the battery needs periodic replacement;
- special waterproof lamps are used near reservoirs.
May economical and practical lighting delight you for many years!