You have probably heard about solar lights being an excellent choice for your home or garden. They are a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to provide outside lighting. But what are the best ways to make solar lights last longer?
There are several actions you could take to make sure you are getting the most out of your solar lights. Here are eight tips to make sure you are maximizing your solar light efficiency:
- Make sure the solar panel is installed in direct sunlight
- Clean the solar panels regularly
- Avoid cross pollution from artificial light
- Keep the solar panels away from trees and bushes
- Avoid keeping the solar panels outside in extreme cold temperatures
- Takes steps to avoid damage from harsh weather
- Protect them with clear paints
- Manage their settings
Of course, there are other steps you could take to ensure that your solar lights are operating at peak performance. We go into detail with each of these eight tips to help you keep your solar lights on longer.
How Long Solar Garden Lights Take to Charge
Solar lights can be a great investment, but they do involve some care. If you are new to the world of solar lighting, you might be wondering how long solar lights stay on? And how long do they take to charge?
These answers depend on a lot of different factors. Usually, solar lights charge throughout the day and then turn on automatically — assuming you have them set to do so — when the internal mechanisms detect that it is dark outside.
Of course, making sure your rechargeable batteries are still working is the first step in extending the time the solar lights stay on.
Solar panels usually need a minimum of six hours of sun exposure every day to be as effective as possible. This charge is sufficient to help them work throughout the night. That being said, it takes some planning and maintenance to ensure that they work as effectively as possible.
Here are eight tips to extend the life of your solar lights
1. Be Smart About Placement
Solar lights need to have access to the sun for at least six hours a day. When you are considering where to place them, keep this in mind. Of course, that means making sure to keep them away from shade cast by buildings, trees, and other structures.
The bottom line is that if your solar panels are being shaded, they will not have access to the sun and won’t be able to shine as brightly or as long as you need. Even though they have batteries, they get their charge from the sun itself. Keeping solar panels in the shade — or in an area with insufficient lighting — is simply cutting them off from their power supply.
If you are not sure about the best place to put your solar panels, you can consult a professional. These experts can survey your property and help you figure out exactly where your solar panels should be for maximum effectiveness.
2. Clean Them Regularly
It is probably self-explanatory, but cleaning your solar lights is key to extending their life. When dirt and other grime collect on the panels, the lights do not directly access sun rays. Therefore they can’t last as long or shine as brightly.
Cleaning the solar panels does not have to be difficult. As a preliminary, regular measure, give them a rinse with your garden hose every few days. This will keep them free of dust and dirt in between deep cleanings.
Twice a year or so, give them a deep clean with a sponge and soapy water. You do not need any special chemicals to do this. In fact, chemical agents can damage the panels and cause them to charge less effectively. Avoid using rough cleaning tools that can scratch the panels. Simple soap and water will do the trick and keep your lights shining at maximum brightness.
3. Avoid Cross Pollution From Artificial Lights
Another reason to be careful about where you place your lights is the risk of cross-pollution. This refers to interference from artificial lighting from homes, cars, or street lights.
The simple reason for this is that solar lights need to work by detecting darkness. If it is surrounded by artificial lights, the sensor won’t detect that it’s sufficiently dark to turn on. This isn’t just inconvenient. It also runs the risk of damaging your solar lights over the long-term.
For these simple reasons, it is best to keep your solar lights in sufficient darkness so that they can operate as intended.
The best place to put them is on the outskirts of your property, away from lights coming from your home, garage, or the street.
4. Keep Them Away From Trees and Bushes
Keeping your solar panels away from trees and bushes is not only about keeping them out of the shade and in full light. It is also about saving you the hassle of frequent maintenance.
Lights placed near plants frequently need more cleaning. You will have to go out and remove leaves, dirt, and other debris on a regular basis. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of not charging your solar lights properly and ultimately damaging them.
Debris on the lights can scratch, crack, or otherwise damage them. And of course, if you want your investment to pay off, you want to keep the upkeep — and the replacement costs — to a minimum. Luckily, it is a problem that is easy to avoid.
To avoid all the hassle and extend the life of your solar panels, keep them in a clean, open area away from plant life.
5. Bring Them in During Cold Temperatures
Even though solar lights are intended for outside use, they are not made for every kind of weather. If you live in a cold climate, you will need to bring them inside during the winter months. Specifically, it is important to protect them when the temperature drops below freezing.
Long-term exposure to freezing temperatures can damage solar panels in several ways. Firstly, extreme cold can cause the internal components to break. Secondly, moisture is apt to gather inside the lights. When this happens, it can damage the internal electrical parts and make the solar lights useless.
If you live in a temperate area, it may not be necessary to bring your solar lights inside and they can be a year-round feature. But in most areas, you will probably find that it is better to store them for the winter months.
When it gets cold, bring the solar lights inside and store them in a temperate, dry place. It is usually a good idea to remove the batteries to keep them protected during months in storage.
6. Turn Them Off When it’s Cloudy or Rainy
If you know that the weather is going to be bad in your area, it is a good idea to turn your solar lights off. Though they can charge without direct sunlight, they become less efficient.
Like any other battery-powered object, running the charge completely empty is damaging to the lights in the long run. This will make them less effective and ultimately shorten their lifespan.
In short, do not make your solar lights work too hard for too long. If they aren’t able to get a sufficient charge, it is better to turn them off altogether.
Switching them off is enough in most bad weather. However, if you expect a strong storm or heavy winds, you may want to bring your solar lights inside. Mud and debris can make them too dirty to work effectively without a deep clean. Similarly, if they are blown down by winds, the panels are apt to break.
7. Protect Them With Clear Paints
If you really want to go above and beyond when it comes to extending the life of your solar lights, you can try some clear paints. This special glossy paint goes on the lens of the lights. As the name implies, it is completely transparent.
Clear paint protects the outside of the solar lights from dust and grime. It also protects them from damage from the elements. This ensures that they are getting a maximum charge without interference.
Clear paint involves a bit more time and money than standard maintenance, but it can pay off by extending the lifespan of your solar lights. This will save you money in the long run — and of course, it is more environmentally friendly, too.
8. Manage the Settings
This may seem like an obvious answer, but managing your solar light’s settings can make a world of difference. Make sure that they are on energy-efficient settings. This may take a bit of trial and error, but it is important.
The wrong settings can mean that your solar lights are not operating at maximum efficiency for where they are placed. Alternatively, keeping them on the highest settings can drain the battery too quickly.
Running the battery too hard can damage it and ultimately shorten the lifespan of your solar lights.
Now that you know how long solar garden lights take to charge, you can care for them probably. When they are well-cared for and maintained, solar lights have the potential to last anywhere from two to four years before their batteries need to be replaced. However, this requires time and care.
Ensuring that your solar lights are placed correctly in the right environment away from external damage will go a long way. So will regular, gentle cleaning. All of this ensures that the solar lights work as efficiently as possible.
This investment of time and energy will ensure that your solar lights pay off in the long run, not just by reducing your energy costs but also by being better for the planet.
Looking for more solar? Check out these 12 best solar pond pumps.