How to Choose Outdoor Solar Powered Lights

  • Firefly

    Photo courtesy of

  • Firefly

When it comes to backyard or pathway lights, forget practical and boring ? think fun and fancy. You can create a soothing, inviting mood with unique and attractive outdoor lighting.

Better yet, you can use solar powered outdoor lights, to save energy and save yourself digging ditches, laying the wire and attaching it to a junction box. When choosing an outdoor solar powered light you will need to consider a variety of factors in order to match the function you want with the available lighting choices.

Solar lights use small photovoltaic cells that absorb sunlight during the day and turn it into energy. Rechargeable batteries store the energy, making it available at night when it is needed. LED (light emitting diode) bulbs, which require little power and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, provide the illumination. There is no wiring necessary to connect the lights to each other or to the electric grid.

For starters, there are three kinds of garden solar lights:

Path lights: solar powered path lights come in a variety of fairly standard styles from modern to classic. They can be hung from a pole or embedded in the ground to light a dark walk or guide the way. And because there is no wiring involved, they can easily be moved to a new location whenever the remodeling bug hits you.

Decorative accent lights: For more fun and fancy, check out the solar powered garden lights that glow with attractive designs and colors. Position them right and it will be like having a giant-size firefly in your yard. These unique lights, made of blown glass or hand-made materials, will add a touch of whimsy to your yard, when placed in and around your shrubs and flower beds. You can find these lights online or in home improvement stores and garden centers. Most have the glowing light perched on top of a slim stake that can easily be pushed into the soil. The small solar collector is attached to the stake and must receive direct sunlight each day in order to charge the batteries.

11/6/2007 12:00:00 AM

The lights I have bbought have all had replaceable batteries. I have never seen nes that were not replaceable. Mine too have lasted several years. Still, they produce very little light. Why do they make these so under-powered? It seems they might be useful with 6 LEDs instead of one and perhaps 4 rechargeable D cells instead of 2 AA's.One great product I have found is a solar powered motion detecting security flood light by (I think( Heath Zenith). These use a 20 watt Halogen light with a 6v motorcycle type rechargeable battery. They are about $90 at Home Depot. I have bought several of them and use them all around outside my house and driveway.

Chris Boylan
10/15/2007 12:00:00 AM

My last set of solar lights (powered by user-replaceable NiCd AA batteries) lasted 8 years. Dirt build-up and weather-wear of the optical sensor and electrical components eventually did them in. A NiCd battery can be recharged 1000 times or more, and can (and should) be recycled when it dies. The big drawback with solar lights is that they need unobstructed sunlight in order to work well. Partial shade, or full sun for only part of the day will drastically shorten the illumination time.

Scott Mason
10/1/2007 12:00:00 AM

Definitely cool high end stuff, saw them at Lightfair in New York.With Solar Cynergy's line, you're paying for product quality and technology. Only a few online stores have them b/c they're targeting and working with large developers and architects.

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