Combining solar energy with LED lighting is a guaranteed recipe for long-term value, positive environmental impact and efficient operation. Advances in technology have made solar energy more accessible and useful in everyday life. The latest LED technology has increased its appeal and efficiency.
How It Works
Solar LED lights come in many shapes and sizes from solar-powered flashlights to landscape lights to solar LED flood lights. No matter the form factor, the basic operation is the same. A solar-powered light fixture has one or more light-collecting solar cells connected to one or more batteries which are connected to one or more LED lights. A photovoltaic light sensor controls when the light turns on or off. In the daytime, the cells generate power which is stored in the batteries. At night, the cells cease generating power. The sensor activates the LEDs which draw power from the batteries.
Disadvantages of Solar-Powered Lighting
The disadvantages of a solar-powered LED light are in the components which affect reliability of power and initial cost. Solar batteries need bright sunny days to charge fully. This is not a problem in sun-drenched areas but can be in northern climates which have more cloudy days. Solar cells, batteries and LED lights can be costly. Lights can cost $10 to $20 each.
Advantages of Solar LED Lighting
Solar LED lights represent time and money saved during the lifetime of the installation. Most solar lighting products require little to no maintenance after installation. Most residential solar lighting installations are do-it-yourself weekend projects. Solar batteries can be charged thousands of times before needing replacement. LEDs are estimated to have 60,000 to 100,000 hours of use. LED solar lights are durable and designed to be weather-resistant. LEDs can be turned off and on frequently with no damage. Unlike bulbs, LEDs are solid state components that can withstand drops and shocks.
LED Solar lights are safer choices for several reasons. Installation requires no electrical wiring reducing potential accidents. LED lights dim over time. They do not burn out as bulbs do. LED lights do not contain mercury which is found in fluorescent lamps. Older nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries are unsafe because they contain the toxic metal cadmium. NiCd batteries will degrade in landfills releasing the cadmium into the environment. Newer solar Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries contain no cadmium and are recyclable. LED lights are fully recyclable.
Lighting with solar-powered LEDs is efficient by design. Once set up, solar lights work as intended with no need for daily intervention. These lights are operational in extreme temperatures. LEDs can be directed without needing reflectors. This can be useful if a set of lights are positioned to act as solar LED flood lights. LEDs produce more light than traditional bulbs while using less power. An LED light transforms 80% of the energy available into light. A traditional bulb converts only 20% of available energy by comparison.