Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Easy Solar Holiday Lights

With the holidays approaching, many people look for new and fun ways to decorate their homes. Maybe you are looking for some new ideas for Halloween decorations. Maybe you’re just tired of the old Christmas lights that you have been using for years. What better way to light up your holidays than with solar holiday lights?

Traditional holiday lights are a hassle. You always wind up running extension chords all over the place, burned out bulbs need to be replaced; you have to worry about short circuits due to rain, the huge electricity bills… Yea, it’s a pain. Solar holiday lights completely eliminate those hassles, but how do they look?

Solar lighting technology has come so far in just the last couple of years that manufacturers have release a huge assortment of solar lighting styles – including Halloween and Christmas lights. For Christmas you have options like:

  • Solar Net Lights
    - These are basically a "net" of LED lights that you use to wrap a shrub. They light up at night and a sensor turns them of when the sun rises. They stay lit for about 8 hours and require 1 AAA battery that is sold separately.

  • Solar Christmas string lights
    - This is a string of 50 solar powered LED lights that can be strung around lamp posts, trees, mail boxes, banisters, etc. They also have a sensor that turns them on at night and off during the day and run for about 8 hours.

  • Solar Multicolor LED Christmas Lights
    - These are a lot like the Solar string lights above, but are multicolor. They also have daylight sensors and 50 LED bulbs.

  • Solar Blue Snow Flake Lights
    - I personally have these and I love them. They are really bright and very pretty. There were a couple of bad reviews from people having a problem with the lights shorting out after a while, but I have had no problems with mine. They are only $8 for a string of 20, and the seller has great feedback, so for me, it was worth trying.

If you're looking for Halloween decorations, you can choose:

Needless to say, they all come with the benefits that we come to expect from all solar lighting products, like: ease of installation, energy efficiency, versatility, etc. Not to mention, most traditional lights need to be either turned on and off manually, or attached to a timer. All of these solar holiday lights come with daylight sensors. It doesn't get more trouble free than that!

I hope this article was able to give you some ideas for the upcoming holidays.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Easy Solar Spotlights

Okay, so if you followed the last two posts, you now have some solar pathway lights and solar accent lights. Have you noticed how nice your property looks now? So what are you missing? Well, actually a couple of things yet, but in this article we are going to discuss solar spotlights.

Okay, so go outside at night and look around. Everything is all nice and glowing and you get a great feel for the landscape vegetation, right? Where did that beautiful maple tree go? You can see the bottom of it from the accent lights, but it’s not really lit up to its full potential, is it? What about the flag hanging above your front porch? Imagine what that will look like all lit up! Okay, okay, I am done teasing, but you get my point right?

Solar spotlights are outdoor solar lights designed specifically for these types of applications. Unlike the other forms of outdoor solar lighting that we have discussed so for, solar spotlights are meant to project a beam away from the fixture toward whatever you want lit up. That means that they can usually be hidden away from your garden, tree, etc.

Since solar spotlights are pretty much meant to be hidden, you don’t need to worry so much about how the fixture itself looks. In fact, most spotlights don’t have the solar cells built right into them like accent or path lights. They usually have a separate solar panel that is connected to the fixture via a long wire. That way, you can hide the spotlight in the place where it will best light the structure you want it to light and hide the panel somewhere else where it will get sunlight during the day. Pretty slick, huh?

The only real downside to solar spotlights is that they are not as bright as conventional spotlights. This shouldn’t be too big a concern, though, unless you are trying to light up the Statue of Liberty. Even still, check the lumen ratings and you should be fine. Oh yea, and if you want the most efficient cells, so you will get better run times out of your lights, check my other solar lights blog. I have an article of two about some of the better solar technologies that are being developed and a couple of links to places to get good lights. Like with the solar accent lights and solar path lights, do your homework, and you should be fine.

Oh yea, and installation is just about as easy as the other lights we’ve discussed. Just stick them in the ground and aim. See you next time!

I recently came across this site Solar Lights Review that you might care to review.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Easy Solar Accent Lighting

Let’s talk about solar accent lights. Solar accent lighting is used to add accents to your home’s garden or landscaping (hence the name). Solar accent lights commonly have a lower level of brightness than solar path lights and are principally used to highlight entire areas and not necessarily a specific pathway or driveway.

Since solar accent lights are not as intense as other types of outside lights, they have can run much longer on less energy. It is not unusual to get a couple of nights of illumination out of a single charge. Try to find accent lights that come with multi-crystalline solar cells. They are capable of collecting energy even on gloomy days. I should also point out that the amber LED’s seem to have a longer run time than white. The amber LED’s also create a softer glow than harsher white LED’s.

Solar accent lights are also offered in blue, green, or red. This gives you the opportunity to choose whichever colors best complement your garden or patio. They also come in a variety of styles including lanterns, ceramic spheres, glass mosaics, color changing globes, table lamps, tiki torches, string lights (fireflies)… Just about any outdoor light fixture you can think of is available in a solar powered version.

There are a few things to consider when choosing solar accent lights:

Taller fixtures will spread the light over a larger area, which will allow more illumination to accent surrounding surfaces. Shorter fixtures will light smaller areas and cast more shadows onto surrounding walls and such. Solar accent lights can be used to highlight garden waterfalls and sculptures, as well as other special features in your landscaping. To get the greatest effect from solar accent lights, it is usually best to have several lights placed closely together, rather than spread out. Try different light colors in close proximity to each other to create different effects.

Out of all the types of solar lights on the market today, accent lights offer the greatest selection of styles and applications. They are all just as easy to install as solar path lights, so the most difficult part is the planning and choosing the ones that are going to work best for your application. Happy shopping!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Easy Solar Path Lights

Out of all the outdoor solar lighting solutions available, one of the easiest to install are solar path lights. These are lights that you use to light up you driveway or walk ways. Usually solar path lights are self contained units that you just take out of the packaging and stick in the ground. What could be easier?

There are a couple of things to consider first, before you rush off to your local home improvement store. First of all, you want to make sure that the locations you have chosen for your lights are accessible to sunlight. If not, you will need to get lights that have a separate solar panel that you can place in a sunlit area, or they will not charge enough to give off light at night.

The second consideration is the type of lights. Solar path lights are a little different from other types of solar lighting in that they are designed to point the light downward towards you path or driveway. If you accidentally get accent lights and hope that they will light up your walkway, you will be disappointed. They will not put out nearly enough light. There are some solar accent lights that you can use to cast a glow on your walkways, but “cast a glow” is about all they will do. Be sure you think about how you want the lighting to look, so that you know the exact type of light to get.

The third consideration is the quality of the light. Do your research. Make sure the manufacturer uses quality solar cells and LED bulbs. Check the “lumens” to make sure they put out the right amount of light. Here is a tip for you. Check the lumen rating for a solar light that you like. Then go to the “flashlight” isle. Most flashlights tell you the lumens and offer you the ability to test the light in the store. Check out the flashlights that have the same lumen value as the solar path lights that you like. That will give you an idea of whether or not it will put out enough light for your application. :)

Other than that, just stick them in the ground and watch them work. Easy!

Check out this site on solar garden lighting!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Intro to Solar Lighting

Why solar lighting? If you read the newspaper or watch the news You likely know the environment is in trouble. Too many years of taking our resources for granted has caused our planet to run out of sources of non-renewable energy. We have begun a global re-think in regards to how we use our energy and from which sources. The solar revolution has begun!

Sure, you think of solar energy as having to spend thousands of dollars to put solar panels on your roof, right? Well, you CAN do that, and in fact, if you can, I recommend that you do. Converting you home to solar power is getting less and less expensive. But this sight is about easy!

Did you know that just how you light your home and garden accounts for a huge percentage of your electricity? The easy way to fix this is with solar lighting. Solar lighting fixtures come in a vast array of styles and designs. They can be used to light up the interior of a home, garage, or shed (indoor solar lighting), or as security lights, around your landscaping, or to light your walkways (outdoor solar lighting).

There are both “pros and cons” that you may want to consider, but the “pros” far outweigh the “cons” for most people. The first point you may want to consider is the bulbs. Most solar lighting fixtures have LED bulbs. LEDs are extremely durable bulbs that offer a very long life span. Most LED bulbs will last for the life of the solar light fixture. They also do vey well in just about any climate and are fairly impact resistant as well. This means they are ideal for outdoor fixtures, but they are not nearly as bright as other types of bulbs. LED bulbs must be clustered together in order to obtain a brightness similar to a standard fluorescent bulb. Many companies are currently able to manufacture such fixtures as spot and flood lights using LED bulbs, so the only real “con” to solar lighting is going to be eliminated within the next few years. Solar lights also enjoy wide applicability, efficiency and are very easy to install.

In my next article, I will discuss how to get started with a simple solar lights project.

Welcome to Easy Solar Lighting

Welcome to Easy Solar Lighting. This website will teach you how easy it is to add solar lighting to you home. We will cover outdoor solar lighting for garden and home use and even indoor solar lighting, including solar skylights! Best of all, eveything can be done by your average do-it-yourselfer! Strap yourself in and grab a cup of coffee!