Traditionally we have used electrical spot lights in our gardens, yards, driveway areas or entrance-ways to illuminate an area that needs it, because of decorative, security or safety reasons. Nowadays we have the choice of using solar spot lights for the same purposes and there are some distinct advantages that we…ahem…spotlight here.
The main benefits of solar lighting in general over electrical lighting fall into 3 main categories – they are environmentally friendlier, they save money, they are easy and convenient to use.
Taking the first one first – if you are replacing your electrical spot lights with solar ones then you will be using no electricity at all and therefore , instead of burning fossil fuels to create your power requirements you are using the sun’s energy. The solar lights use a collector panel, a rechargeable battery that stores the energy and an LED bulb that emits the energy as light. Even on cloudy days you will get enough charge for usage for a few hours in the evening. Quite apart from the personal satisfaction that we may get from harnessing the power of the sun, it does mean that our “footprint” on the environment is reduced.
This also ties in with the second advantage – by not using electricity the only cost involved in solar spot lights is the initial buying cost of the units. Running costs are zero. Although they are a little pricier now than electrical lights, this is being reduced as time goes by and anyway, any extras will be paid back by lower electricity bills.
Thirdly the ease and convenience can be seen in the installation and maintenance. Being solar-powered there is no need for an electricity supply, so no electrician or wiring is required and no need to dig up any gardens or disturb any decking. They need to be fixed to the wall or area they need to spotlight, via the mounting system that comes supplied, then they can be left to do their job. A quick word of warning here – make sure they are well secured for two reasons: theft and wind.
The LED bulbs are designed to last forever, so they will not need changing and there is virtually no maintenance required other than the occasional wipe down with a rag. You don’t even need to worry about turning them on in the evenings as most of them have in-built light sensors which detect the dark falling and then turn the unit on.
Most of the cases are strong and designed to stand up to a battering from the elements. Of course they are waterproof but being outside means they will be exposed to everything Mother Nature throws at them so make sure you buy sturdy, robust units that are made of good strong materials.
With spot lighting used for security or surveillance purposes it is important to achieve the necessary brightness and that it lasts throughout the night. The traditional problem with solar lighting has been maintaining a brightness level comparative with an incandescent or halogen bulb unit – the sort of light that allows you to read by it, for example. This is not always possible with a simple set up currently. Some of the more advanced systems, however, use a larger solar panel connected via a cable to the battery and lamp unit, so that the panel can be positioned up to 15 feet away in direct sunlight and collect more power. The lighting unit may have multiple LEDs – 80 or 100 for example – that will allow it to use the extra power, creating brighter white light that can last up to 12 hours. Sometimes one panel can service a couple of light units.
You will have to check the specs of your particular set before committing, as the one you choose will depend on what your needs are. If it is for spotlighting for decorative purposes (more like accent lighting) or just to light up a pathway, set of steps or a swimming pool for a few hours in the evening then you will not need an extra-powerful unit.