How Does Solar Work?

Solar Powered Lights & Their Components

Solar powered lights are a cost-effective solution for illuminating outdoor areas.  One of the biggest advantages of solar lights is that they are self-sufficient and do not add to your electricity bill.  They also do not require electrical wiring or the services of an electrician for installation.  Most solar lights can be installed by the average home handy person.

The technology for solar powered lighting is rapidly improving.  Solar lights are now more attractive, brighter and more efficient.  To give you a better sense of how these lights work, below are the basic components what they do.

The solar cells are wired directly to a rechargeable battery/s that stores the electricity generated by the cell. A diode located between the cells and battery ensure the current flows in one direction only – into the battery.
Solar Panel
The solar panel has a series of photovoltaic cells inside, which converts sunlight to an electrical current.
LED (Light emitting diodes)
These are hard-wired into the electrical circuit as a single unit or in clusters. LEDs in hard-wired configurations cannot be replaced. There are, however, solar lights on the market that have screw-in LED bulbs, which are replaceable.

As LEDs do not have any filaments, they can last between 50,000 and 100,000 hours depending on the LED. They also do not generate waste heat so are safe to touch during operation.

How Solar Lights Work

The energy required to power solar lights is obtained purely from the sun.  In very simple terms, the sun’s energy is absorbed by a series of solar cells (joined together in the form of a solar panel) and then converted and stored into rechargeable batteries.  Once charged, the batteries can power the lights for night time operation.

Anything powered by solar energy and requires nighttime operation must have rechargeable batteries.  Rechargeable batteries will charge and discharge hundreds of times, but over time their storage capacity reduces and eventually, they will need to be replaced. When the operation of your solar light diminishes significantly or if it stops working altogether, try replacing the batteries.

All solar lights have a built-in darkness sensor which allows the energy cycle of charging during the day and discharging at night. By leaving the light in the ‘ON’ position at all times, the light will operate automatically.  Typically this operation turns the light on at dusk and off when exposed to light or when the battery storage is exhausted, whichever comes first.

Solar lights, however, are not limited to the above function.  You can get solar powered lights which interrupt this cycle such as PIR (proximity infra-red) sensor lights or remote controlled lights.

PIR solar lights operate only when triggered by a heat source (person) passing through the sensor zone.  This operation usually only lasts seconds or minutes before switching off again.  PIR lights are best suited as a security or safety lighting solution where a constant light source is not required.

Remote controlled solar lights offer more control, operating more like hard-wired lights where the user can turn them on and off as required with the simple press of a button.  Like all solar lights, these lights will still only operate between dusk and dawn.

BlackFrog Solar has an extensive range of solar powered lights including remote controlled solar lights including spotlights, wall lights and floodlights.

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