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Introduction to Outdoor Solar Garden Lights
Garden lighting has been with us since before electrical lighting even existed; people have long seen the virtue in extending their enjoyment of their gardens beyond the hours of daylight and so simple candle lanterns (the precursors to today’s solar garden lanterns) were used to illuminate outdoor tables, paths, decks and patios.
Once solar panels (also called photovoltaic cells) of the sort used to power pocket calculators became widely and cheaply available it didn’t take long for outdoor garden lighting designers to realize their potential to provide solar powered garden lighting.
Early versions however were, like many fledgling applications of technology, more of a gimmick than anything else and solar powered garden lights swiftly developed a poor reputation due to inadequate light levels and duration.
However, improvements in both solar cell technology and low energy consumption solar LED lights mean that solar garden lighting is now a viable and valid choice for modern outdoor garden lighting.
The solar panels attached to a solar garden light are able to store more electricity more efficiently and ensure their internal rechargeable batteries are fully charged at the end of each day; at the same time low energy LED outdoor lights are both much brighter and consume far less electricity than traditional incandescent or halogen light bulbs.
Main Advantages Of Outdoor Solar Lighting
The most obvious advantage of a solar garden light is that it does not need to be connected to a supply of electricity, as does mains powered and low voltage garden lighting, since the solar panel providing power is typically an integral component.
This means that unlike their cable bound cousins, solar power garden lights can be easily and quickly installed anywhere and can also be subsequently moved around at will to try out different lighting effects. There are some solar garden light kits that use a separate solar panel (often a group of lights will share the panel) but even these are self-contained systems that are easy to move around.
People sometimes think that you can simply extend the cable for a conventional low voltage lighting circuit and thus reach into the furthest corners of the garden but in practice there is a maximum length to any cable run. This is often stated on the transformer (or the box containing the cable) and as you add more spurs to feed individual light fittings, this maximum length reduces.
Basically the cable itself applies a load to the transformer and there comes a point where so much power is being dissipated by the cable that there is very little left to power any lights. So solar landscape lighting is obviously an ideal workaround to this common problem in larger gardens.
The second most obvious advantage of solar powered garden lights is no electricity costs. Solar power is free, so solar outdoor lights cost absolutely nothing to run. Coupled with this point is that the LED lights now commonly found in 12v LED garden lighting products often have an effective lifetime of tens of thousands of hours, so outdoor solar lighting requires almost no maintenance.
Not only are solar garden lights very easy to install, cheap to run and maintenance free, they are inherently safe in a garden environment. The integrated solar panel means the electrical supply is fully enclosed and operates on typically 12v low voltage or less electricity, so there is no electrical hazard. Also, LED lights give off virtually no heat, so there is no danger of burning (or even setting fire to) children, animals or plants.
But it’s not all sunshine and smiles, there are some downsides to consider…
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