January 16, 2024

Solar Lights on the Equine Property

Solar is the cost-effective option of the future that can be applied in many ways by the horse owner – from powering lights to achieving that short, show coat on your horse, to lighting your arena or running your pump.
Last issue, Jeffrey Florance from Blackfrog Solar in Queensland covered utilising solar energy for arena lights on your equine property and in this issue, he explores solar options around the property, such as in the feedroom, tackroom, stables, shelters and laneways, and what we need to be aware of when installing these solar lights.

Solar Bollard

This solar light stores energy during the day to automatically illuminate at night . They are composed of a LED lamp, solar panels, battery and charge controller.

Bollard lights (photo) can be an ideal and easy way to light laneways and dark areas around stables. Ideally, they would be installed in areas where horses are not roaming free, as there is always the possibility of injuries for curious or running horses.
Placed correctly, the bollard lights are a reliable and cost-effective way to light up your equine property. Solar bollards have electric lamps and work independently of any external power source, which makes them ideal for properties and areas where mains power is not available and they tend to last longer than most other types of outdoor lighting solutions. The biggest benefits may be that an electrician is not required to install these bollards, they are easy for you to install and maintain, are environmentally friendly and do not increase your monthly electricity bill.

Most of bollards are made to store enough energy to light up for 24 hours straight, so even during cloudy conditions, they will still provide that stored light. They can be set to turn on and off automatically or can be manually controlled if preferred and work best if they are positioned in an area with direct sunlight. 

Depending on the bollards selected, they can light areas up to four meters from the base, but their relatively small height must be taken into consideration as they can only illuminate a limited area, which can be a drawback if not positioned properly.

For the first five hours of operation per night, the light emits 300 lumens (output of light), then drops to 150 lumens till daybreak. Half power provides enough light to illuminate a pathway while decreasing light pollution in the surrounding areas. Light pollution is the excessive or inappropriate use of outdoor artificial lighting that can affect human health (or neighbours that may be affected), wildlife behaviour and our ability to observe the night sky.

  • Would all the bollards be connected by wires and have one solar panel that would operate them all or are they individually solar-powered?

Most bollards are independent with their own battery and solar panel build-in, but custom-made designs are also available if you have the budget and approach a reputable company.

  • Are most Bollards made of plastic and if so, does this deteriorate in constant sunlight? How long would you expect a bollard to last- both the battery and the outers shell of the bollard itself

There is a larger range of solar lights on the market to meet all budgets, but not all are built equal. 90% of Plastic bollards are manufactured from recycled plastics which breakdown quickly under ultra-violet light and become brittle after 12months. There are some stainless-steel bollards on the market sold by large hardware stores, but the solar panels and batteries are substandard, with the stainless steel being a 102 grade (tends to rust)
Jeff from BlackFrog Solar recommends spending a little extra on your lights, to reduce your frustration. (“I am too poor to buy cheap – my father would say”) A solar bollard should have a high-grade Stainless steel or aluminium material body, with laminated glass solar panel/s, and even better Nickle-Metal Hydride or Lithium battery. (Check the batteries are replaceable)

Wall Light

Solar light attached to the wall in the feedroom, stable or just outside the stables can be an easy and cost-effective way of lighting up the area once the sun goes down. Most solar wall lights are reliable and can be used instead of electric lights and of course are ideal for those situations where power does not run to the shed or stable or the property is off-grid. There are options with battery storage capacity available that will light for up to 30 hours

  • Does all solar lighting require a storage battery to work?

Yes, all solar lights have some type of Battery storage that allows the light to discharge the battery at night.

  • How long would the solar batteries last (Google says solar light batteries need to be replaced every two years as they only last for 600 charges. Is that this correct and if so do the batteries get replaced or the complete light?

Google is correct to a point, but batteries vary in style and quality. Batteries can vary from 500 cycles (1 ½ yrs) to 8000 cycles (20 yrs). Most cheap lights have the batteries fixed onto the circuit board and unless you have some electronic/electrical knowledge is difficult or impossible to replace sending the complete unit to a landfill. (What a waste and environmental vandalism) Good quality, well-designed lights enable fast easy replacement of batteries and include high-quality waterproof seals to ensure the long operating life of your light. A quality supplier should offer servicing and support to their customers.

  • Can solar wall lights be outdoors in areas that would receive rain and direct sun?

Look for waterproof or impact ratings on your lights. This will be displayed in the form of IP or IK ratings. See the image below for an explanation of these terms. The higher the IP rating the better water resistance it will have. Most lamps should have an IP65 rating for full outdoor weather resistance. IK rating refers to Impact resistance.

IP Ratings Chart

Some lights have a sound sensor, Infrared or microwave sensor that will turn them on to full brightness conserving battery power. But all solar lights have a day/night sensor. The best quality units include a current sensor on the circuit board which turns on the light once there