When it comes to the task of making a really amazing night time feature in your home’s garden area, choosing the correct type of lighting effect can really make all the difference. It’s the difference between an averagely nice landscaping scene and a truly great landscaping visual spectacular!
Of course, the running costs of all that illumination comes at a cost when your monthly electricity bill lands on your doorstep! But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can have all the lighting you want in your garden and have a truly spectacular night time illumination for zero ongoing cost! Don’t you believe me? Well, you can when you opt for solar landscape lights!
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Landscaping Lights Powered By the Sun
Solar lights are fascinating in their science yet most people don’t even think twice about how they work and how the same technology can be used in broader applications. Once you start reading about photo-voltaic technology I don’t think you ever stop!
Here I’ll explain what these special lights are, how they work and what types you can obtain to make the best illuminated visual expression possible from your garden’s landscaping design.
What Are Solar Landscape Lights?
These are a collection of strategically placed lighting fixtures that when switched on will bring your garden to life after the sun has gone down but using the power that has been generated and stored from the power of the sun itself.
The lights come in a variety of styles, designs, shapes, and sizes and importantly for landscape design, power outputs. There are two main types of outdoor sun-powered lights or two main categories that they fall into.
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The first is the individual standalone garden lights that are a complete unit. Each light consists of a casing to house the light and internal workings, a low energy bulb or LED or series of LEDs to provide the light, a rechargeable battery or batteries and a photovoltaic panel affixed to the top of the unit.
They can be placed directly in strategic places in your garden simply by plunging them into the ground on a built-in spike and come in short path marker lights, taller ones on chest height poles or even taller ones on high poles that provide downward facing light for patios or open spaces and provide wider illumination coverage.
The second category is systems or networks of 12v unit fittings connected up to a large 12v deep-cycle battery that is connected to a large photovoltaic panel.
How do Solar Landscape Lights Work?
They work on the principle that light from the sun is converted into electricity by a photovoltaic panel and that electricity is used to charge a rechargeable battery. The more sunlight that falls onto the photovoltaic cells in the solar panel, the more charge the battery gets during the daylight hours and the longer it will illuminate the bulb or LED during the night.
Standalone solar lighting units have their batteries and solar cell all fixed in the unit along with a suitable light source, such as a low wattage bulb or a LED. The brightness of the LED or bulb’s output is directly proportional to the size and storage capacity of the battery and the electricity generating capacity of the small solar panel.
Networked systems of lights connected to a large deep-cycle battery which is charged via a large panel can grow in proportion to the size and capacity of the battery and the battery is dependent on the ability of the panel to produce sufficient electricity to fully recharge it during the day.
How I Fitted My Own Garden With Sun Powered Illumination
My own personal network consists of a collection of 12v low wattage bulbs housed in a variety of lamps plus some 12v halogen floodlights sited around the patio and garden areas. These are powered by a large set of deep-cycle batteries that hold a total of 200 amps. They are recharged by two photovoltaic panels that produce around 30 amp hours, which is sufficient to keep the batteries topped off.
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This system keeps my outdoor area illuminated all night every night and even when we have a power cut, which is when my neighbors all have their yards in darkness, mine is still ablaze with free illumination!
The garden area uses solar landscape lighting in the form of 12v spotlights which enhance ornamental trees and shrubs as well as some of my favorite garden sculptures and also the fish pond. The floodlights only come on when the motion sensors pick up movement and they switch off again after a minute if there is no further movement detected.
The whole system was initially expensive to install, but the running costs in terms of electricity are zero. Now isn’t that something you could get to like an awful lot?