Outdoor solar lighting has become an eco-friendly way to beautify a property and provide extra security. These convenient devices charge all day to be ready to light up your nights without the hassle of cords or power outlets.
The beauty of these lights is that they require little to no attention from you beyond installation. They charge on their own and automatically shut on and off, timed perfectly with the cycle of the sun, so they’re only on when you need them.
So what is the purpose of the power switches on some solar lights? Do I need to turn my solar light off? Here are the main points that I’ll be addressing, among others, about this topic.
- Reasons to turn solar lights off
- How solar lights function
- Changing the batteries of solar lights
- Tips for choosing solar lights
Read on to learn if it’s necessary to manually turn solar lights off and other pertinent information regarding the workings and maintenance of your lights for optimal function and longer product life.
Why You May Need To Turn Solar Lights Off
Solar lights are designed to be on all of the time. In fact, many do not have a switch to manually turn the power on and off. The photoresistor inside the light does this automatically when there isn’t a switch.
If a switch is included, you don’t actually need to turn them off, but it is beneficial to do so when storing your solar lights or when you want to achieve a deep charge.
For the ultimate care of your solar lights. If they don’t normally work in the winter due to the lack of sunlight, it is best to turn off your solar lights and store them away. This will extend the life of your lights for years.
How Do Solar Lights Work?
A group of photovoltaic (PV) cells is wired together to create a solar panel. The panel absorbs sunlight and converts it into electricity using a semiconductor material to knock electrons off. An electric field within the PV cell forms an electric current that flows to the battery for storage.
When the sun goes down, the solar cells stop producing power. The photoresistor, or light-dependent resistor, is deactivated when sunlight is no longer present. This allows electricity to flow from the battery to the LED bulb in your solar light and turn it on.
The reverse happens when the sun comes back up. The photoresistor activates the transistor, which then energizes the relay that stops the flow of electricity to the LED bulb, effectively turning it off. This is how streetlights are automatically turned on and off in sync with the sunrise and sunset.
When Is It Beneficial To Turn Off Solar Lights?
If your solar lights have an on/off switch, there are times when it is a good idea to turn them off.
It’s common to put solar lights in storage during winter months when being outdoors is less comfortable, and exposure to harsh weather can shorten the lifespan of the devices. Switch off your solar lights during any period of storage or disuse to preserve battery life.
Solar lights still charge when the power switch is turned off. It’s recommended to turn them off for periodic intervals while still allowing them to charge.
This enables them to maintain charging efficiency over time and collect a full charge without expending stored power.
Can You Change the Batteries in Solar Lights?
Many solar lights have removable batteries. Check the light specs to see if they are designed for battery replacement.
It’s optimal to replace batteries every two years to maintain consistent light output. Keep in mind that you will need to remove any batteries when your solar lights are placed in storage to prevent corrosion which can damage your lights.
Can Solar Lights Be Charged without Direct Sunlight?
While direct sunlight is the best power source for your solar lights, even on a cloudy day they will receive enough light to charge, albeit at a reduced rate.
It’s also possible to charge solar lights with artificial light. Incandescent, LED, and fluorescent light sources will all charge your solar lights eventually. The main drawback is the length of time it takes to fully charge them.
How Long Do Solar Lights Last?
The main components that affect the life of solar lights are the battery and the LED bulb.
Solar batteries have an average life of about two years, while LED bulbs can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years.
The casing can affect the overall life of your lights. Look for casing made from high-quality materials to ensure the structure will last as long as the lighting components.
Why Aren’t My Solar Lights Working?
If your solar lights have replaceable batteries, open the housing and inspect the battery to check for corrosion. If none is present, replace the battery and see if the lights will resume charging.
Either a Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) or Nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH) battery can be used as a replacement. The better choice is the Nickel-metal Hydride type as they’re less toxic and more effective in solar lights.
If the batteries are good, check the solar panel. Anything, including dirt, that covers the solar panel prevents the cell from absorbing light. Give the panel a good cleaning and see if your lights will charge again.
How Do You Maintain Solar Lights?
Solar lights can last for many years when properly cared for. Here are some suggestions for maintaining your lights for long life.
Keep the solar panels clean and free of dust and dirt. This will enable the cells to function at maximum capacity and extend the life of the lights.
Bring your lights indoors for storage with the batteries removed when not in use for extended periods of time. This will not only extend the life of the batteries, it will also decrease wear and tear on the casing by limiting exposure to the elements.
What to Consider When Choosing Solar Lights
The most important consideration is the capacity in which you want the lights to function. Do you want to light a path, spotlight a feature, or support your security system? There are different options designed for use with specific applications.
Next, decide the desired output. Do you want a subtle accent or vivid light? This will dictate the desired brightness. The number of LED lights per unit helps to gauge how intense the light will be. The more LEDs in a unit, the brighter the light output.
For optimal charging capability, consider the environment. If there’s a lot of shade in the area or you experience frequent cloudy weather, consider lights with a remote PV cell that can be placed in a sunny area or on the roof.