Can You Use Solar Lights Indoors?

In recent times, a lot of people have been switching to an alternative renewable source of energy. Now solar lights are widely used to light up yards, driveways, and gardens. People are wondering if you can bring that same renewable energy source inside. So can you use solar lights indoors?

Although solar lights are known for their main use outdoors, you can also use solar lights indoors with a few caveats. The must be in an area where the solar panels are receiving sunlight. This can be near a window or skylight. Alternatively, it can be powered by lights in your house. Though they will not provide enough energy to power a large solar light.

Solar lights have become a top alternative means of illuminating several places in our homes since a lot of people started switching to renewable energy. Though it is mainly used for outdoor purposes, it can also be used indoors. In the course of this article, we shall be looking at several questions arising from the use of solar lights indoors. Let’s dive in.

Can Solar Lights Be Used Indoors?

As stated earlier, solar lights are primarily for outdoor usage. It is in this outside space where the lights can easily access the rays of the sun. But that does not mean that solar lights cannot be used indoors. In fact, they can in many situations. However, solar lights require extra rules for it to properly function indoors.

Check out the best reviewed outdoor solar lights.

When thinking of using a solar light indoors, the first consideration should be how to charge it. In the absence of sunlight, artificial light is another way to charge solar lights. All types of light sources produce a spectrum, a range of light wavelengths such as X-rays, UV waves, visible lights, and IR waves. 

Sunlight gives off a large amount of UV light which is important in the charging of solar lights. Household incandescent bulbs only give off a small amount of UV light, and it is not enough to charge a solar light. These artificial lights cannot be an effective means of charging a solar light because it will take a longer time to get a full charge from them. 

Charging Solar Panels With Artificial Light

Also, consistently charging solar lights with artificial light may result in the eventual loss of its ability to charge properly in the long run. So it is best to charge the solar light with natural light and bring it back inside. To promote the lifespan of your solar light, you should only use artificial light in charging once in a while. And you should make use of incandescent lights instead of the common LED light.

When using solar light indoors, you might not even be able to use natural light in charging them because of the weather. Take winter for instance; the weather is cloudier and there is hardly any sunshine. During this time, your solar light will most likely not function to its best whether indoors or outdoors. 

So to get the best out of your solar light during this period, it is best that you position the solar lights in places that get the best sunlight. Make sure trees, buildings, or other objects are not casting a shadow on the solar panel.

During this period, when using your solar light indoors, you can also charge it using a light bulb. Position the light bulb about 20-inches away from the solar panel. Allow it to charge for as long as possible. However, note that based on the bulb’s brightness, the solar light might charge faster or take longer to charge.

Do Solar Lights Need Direct Sunlight To Work?

Solar lights work based on the operation and model of a solar power system. And a solar power system includes thousands of photovoltaic cells. These cells make up the solar panel of any solar power system. 

This panel, in turn, collects energy from the sun. Then, the solar panel converts this energy into usable energy. That battery stores the energy from the solar panel. The battery powers the lights whenever the solar lights are on.

The battery also smooths out the electricity generation from the solar panel. This provides constant electricity to your solar lights to keep them from dimming.

Solar power might be far more complicated than our simplified explanation above. But for this illustration, this basic explanation is what most of us need to understand about solar power before going into solar lights. 

Since the solar panels just need photons to hit the solar cells, any type of light source will do. Solar lights do not exactly need direct sunlight to work.

Instead, household lights can charge a solar light. It will create a slow trickle charge for the battery. However, it can be fully charged after 10 hours of being under a light bulb. It would take 50% of the time to charge under direct sunlight.

That is because the sunlight has a higher photon density. Basically, there are twice as many photons that hit the solar panel from the sun than from a light bulb.

How To Use Outdoor Solar Lights Indoors?

Any type of outdoor solar light can light up the indoors. Although, it requires a few considerations. To use an outdoor solar light indoors, follow the step guide below:

Step One: Get the necessary materials

There are few materials you will need to get for this process Here’s a quick list of all of the required materials

  • Thin curtain panel (semi-sheer or translucent)
  • Safety pin
  • Wall or ceiling hooks
  • Solar-powered string light

Step Two: Hang the solar lights 

You can string the lights from the ceiling using the wall hooks. Alternatively, you could hang them on the wall using the hooks. The important step here is to make sure that the end of the lights with the sol

Step Three: Install the solar panel

There are two options for installing the solar panel. The best option is to install is outside of the window. You can thread the wire through the window opening. You should still be able to close the window without damaging the power wire.

The other option is to hang the solar panel inside of the window. You can do this with a wall hook or a safety pin. The wall hook can be placed on the top inside wall of the window frame. The solar panel can hang from that.

Alternatively, you can use the safety pin the attach it to the top of the curtain. Do not puncture the power wire with the safety pin.

Step Four: Adjust the solar panel

Now that the solar panel is installed, you can adjust the solar panel. Make sure it is facing upward toward to sun. If it is installed inside the window, ensure that it is facing towards the middle of the window in an upward facing orientation.

Step Five: Test the solar lights

Now that the solar lights are installed, it is time to test them. Ensure that they receive at least five hours of direct sunlight. Then turn them on. If they work, congratulations! You just installed solar lights indoors. If they don’t work, try troubleshooting the solar light wire.

You can also test that the battery is working. If they are not working, you will need to replace them. Thankfully, it is not hard to replace rechargeable batteries in solar lights.

Can Solar Lights Charge Through Windows?

As discussed earlier, solar lights, are lights that require solar energy to charge their battery. However, the solar energy does not need to come from the sun. The solar panels just need photons to work. Lots of photons.

Solar lights are primarily made for outdoor purposes. But they are also being used indoors. They can be charged in a variety of ways. The easiest is to place the solar panel in a location where it can be charged through a window.

Of the methods of charging solar light indoors, one of them is through an artificial light source. And the other is through a natural light source. That means placing the solar light at a place where it had direct access to sunlight. One of the best indoor spots for a solar panel is near a window. 

Solar lights can be charged through the window while indoors so long it has access to the rays from the sunlight.  So avoid windows that are blocked by things outside, like another wall or tree.

To charge your solar light from the window, position the solar light at a window in your house where light rays can easily reach the panel. It is best that you raise the curtain of the window. You do not need to open the window. Photons are not lost through the glass of a window pane.

Make sure you position the solar light such that if the light ray hits the panel directly. This would make the solar light charge faster and better. 

A solar light can charge just as fast from inside a window as it can from outside. The only difference is the length of time that the solar panels can charge inside. Since the window only gives it access to the sun for part of the day, it will experience less charge time inside than outside.

Can Solar Lights Charge Through Skylights?

Similar to windows, skylights are great for letting outside daylight inside your house. Solar lights placed indoors can be powered through the skylights. However, placement is critical in getting it enough daylight.

You should look to see which areas of your room are receiving sunlight around noon. Those a great places to place the solar panel component of the solar lights.

This is when the maximum photon density is present in the sunlight. Since you will only be able to charge the solar panels for an hour or two per day, you will want to maximize the amount of energy it is getting for each of those hours.


I'm trying to make the world a bit greener every day, whether that's through my day job or helping others make green choices for their homes.

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