Pros and Cons of Solar Lights
Whether you seek to lower energy bills or reduce your carbon footprint, there isn’t a bad reason to consider solar outdoor lights. But which are the best outdoor solar lights for your residential or commercial property? There are a lot of factors that can influence the answer to this question. But we believe to make an informed purchase decision, it helps to first understand the advantages and disadvantages of solar lights. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be that much better equipped to find the right solution for you.
Advantages of Solar Lighting
- They’re Easy and Economical to Install
Since solar lights get their energy from the sun, they don’t need to connect to your property’s electrical system. In other words, since solar outdoor lights are self-contained systems that require no outside power source (except for the sun, of course), there’s no hassle of running wires or the expense of hiring an electrician. Simply mount your lights on a post, or bolt them to your deck, or stick them in the ground and go.
- You Can Put Them Anywhere (Almost)
Another upside of wireless operation is that you’re not restricted to spots within reach of a power source. Middle of the yard? Sure! End of the driveway? No problem. On the roof of your shed? Go for it. The only places you can’t install the lights are shady areas lacking sufficient sunlight to charge the fixture’s battery (more on that later)
- They Use Clean, Renewable Energy
You wouldn’t be reading this article if you didn’t already understand the two primary benefits of solar lights, lower energy costs and reduced carbon footprint. Which one is more important to you? It doesn’t matter! When you utilize solar lights to supplement or replace standard lighting, you accomplish both. But how much do you save exactly? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cost of a Kilowatt Hour (kWh) is about 17 cents. So, let’s say you have a 60-watt fixture on your garage that runs 12 hours every night. 0.06 (60 watts / 1000) kilowatts x 12 hours x 17 cents = approximately 12.24 cents per day x 365 days = $44.68 per year. Factor in additional fixtures and replacement of bulbs and the costs start to really add up.
- They’re Convenient
During the day, typical solar light fixtures capture and store the sun’s energy. When the sun sets, many will automatically turn on and provide illumination through the night. Then at sunrise, the process starts all over again. If your goal is to enhance safety along a walkway or discourage would-be thieves, the convenient automation of solar lights can be an especially attractive feature. Instead of having to set timers or needing to remember to turn on and off the lights each night, solar lights perform this task automatically. And if you leave home for a trip, you can rest a bit easier knowing that your property will stay lit up at night.
- They’re Durable and Low Maintenance
For starters, most solar lights feature long-lasting LED bulbs that deliver between 50,000 and 100,000 hours of reliable use. Solar panels, meanwhile, can often last more than 25 years. Add in sturdy, weather-resistant housings and the aforementioned easy installation, and you have a truly trouble-free fixture. Typically, the most attention a solar light will need is the occasional cleaning to ensure the solar panel doesn’t accumulate dust or debris that will block out sunlight.
Disadvantages of Solar Lighting
- They’re Weather Dependent
If it’s usually sunny blues skies where you live, solar lights are without question a fantastic choice for many applications. But if where you live is typically cloudy and rainy, they will not be able to perform to their maximum potential. This will, in turn, increase your dependence on traditional lighting and reduce the energy-saving benefits of solar.
- You Can’t Put Them Anywhere You Like
As mentioned earlier in this article, solar lights require access to direct sunlight to function properly. So, if you want to light up the perimeter of a shady, tree-lined patio, they may not be the best choice.
- 3. They Have a Higher Initial Cost
A traditional light fixture primarily consists of a housing, a bulb, and a switch. A solar fixture also requires a solar panel and a battery to capture and store solar energy. These extra components will increase the overall cost of the fixture. As outlined earlier in the article, these additional costs will recoup themselves in the form of lower energy bills and bulb replacement expenses. So, in the long run, solar will be the better value. Despite this, the higher “up-front” price of a solar fixture can be a deterrent for some consumers.
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