LED lighting has soared in popularity over the last few years as consumers realise the cost saving and environmental benefits of the technology. The addition of solar power, which shares these benefits, has the potential to significantly increase those benefits by completely removing ongoing running costs. This type of lighting is obviously designed for outdoor use, so in this blog post we provide a guide to purchasing solar LED garden lights – the pros and cons, and what to look for should you decide to purchase.
The benefits of solar LED garden lights
Solar LED lights require no wiring or plugging into the mains, and you don’t even need to put batteries in them! Simply screw to the location you want, or drive them into the ground if using solar spike lights, and you’re ready to go. Another major benefit is that they are free to run. Solar lights are powered entirely by the sun, so there are no batteries to replace or mains electricity to use. You simply install them and let them do their thing! Finally, LED lighting lasts a long time. This means you shouldn’t need to replace your garden lights until you want to, rather than when you have to.
The downside of solar LED garden lights
As with most things in life, there is a trade-off of pro and cons when consider solar lighting. The main disadvantage they have over their mains-powered counterparts is that they operate at a much lower power output, meaning they give off less light; so if you want to brightly illuminate an area of your garden, solar power isn’t the way to go. Another consideration is that the light output can be dependent on the weather. A dull day will result in less charge in the battery, as of course will the shorter days during autumn and winter, resulting in a lower light output for a shorter duration.
When would you choose solar LED garden lights?
Taking everything into account, the best uses for solar powered garden lights are for decoration and some illumination. Use them to highlight a certain feature, mark the edges of a garden path or patio area, or create atmosphere in an outdoor dining area. If illumination is your primary requirement then mains or battery powered garden lights will be the better option.
What to look for when purchasing solar LED garden lights
The purpose of garden lighting is of course to emit light, therefore the first things to look for when choosing solar powered garden lights are those things that directly affect the light output, followed by convenience and ease of installation.
The solar panel
The first feature to look at is the size of the solar panel. The larger the solar panel, the more charge it can provide during daylight hours, and therefore the greater light output and duration.
Most manufacturers will quote a battery life for every 24 hour cycle, usually around eight hours, and you need to decide if this is adequate for your needs. Take the quoted duration with a pinch of salt – they are usually best-case scenarios!
Does it require pre-charging?
Some solar lights need to be left out for a couple of days to charge before you switch them on, whereas with others you just install them and they will turn themselves on an off depending on the light.
Most solar powered garden lights will have a dusk-till-dawn sensor, but other will require manual operation. Check before you buy.
IP stands for ingress protection, and tells you how resistant the light fitting is to dust and water. For outdoor lights look for a minimum rating of IP44, which is weatherproof. You can learn more about IP ratings here
One of the main selling points of solar LED lights is their convenience and ease of use. If the installation requires more than a few screws you might want to consider a different option!
Check how long the manufacturer’s warranty is before you buy. The longer the warranty, the more confident the manufacturer is of the quality of their product, and the longer it is likely to last. If solar sounds like a viable option for your needs, you can view our range of solar LED garden lights here