Lights that charge from the sun’s energy are one of the best examples that people can do anything when they put their minds to it. While it is still pretty difficult for people to mount solar panels on their roof and enjoy the renewable source of electricity that the sun can provide, solar outdoor lights are becoming a popular way of keeping the yard nice and lit. The best part of it all isn’t that these lights are super-easy to install, but also the fact that they are inexpensive and quite convenient for the long haul because they don’t need electricity to run.
What You Will Need:
- The chosen type of solar lights
- Drill bits (Philips is the most common for hardware included with lights)
- Measuring tape
Depending on the exact type of outdoor solar lighting that you opt for, there are different ways of installing them. So, what is a solar light exactly? Best read up on them and their benefits before heading out to purchase. But when you’re ready, here are the general steps that you’ll have to follow if you want to install solar lighting.
Step One: Locate a Spot
First of all, you will have to identify a spot in your yard that gets full sun exposure throughout the entire day. That’s because solar lights have small panels with solar cells that will charge as they bask in the sunlight, and all that energy will be stored inside the batteries of the lights.
Basically, the more time the lights spends in the sun, the more it will have the chance to charge completely and provide you with more runtime. This step is actually a lot more difficult than it seems because plenty of people are tricked into placing their lights in spots where the sun shines most at noon. You will have to consider factors that can bring shade, like trees or house walls as well as the actual condition of the spot. You don’t want to install your lights in a rough surface area.
Step Two: Install
When you have identified the ideal spot, it’s time to actually install the lights. This step will depend on the type of light that you’ve chosen. For example, if you’re picked lights that come with a stake that goes in the ground, the next step is literally sticking the light into the dirt in your garden or along a pathway in your yard.
If you’ve opted for lights that can be mounted on a wall, make sure that you pick a wall that benefits from the most amount of light possible throughout the duration of an entire day.
There are also models that allow you to attach solar lights to fences or on top of existing posts throughout your yard (which are typically made from wood, vinyl, or PVC).
The latter two categories of these lights will come with the mounting hardware required to install them, which usually consists of a bunch of screws and a wall/post support.
Step Three: Read the Manual
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to see what other steps are required of you before you can actually start using the lights. Note that some panels come with their own on and off switch, while others have integrated lighting sensors that will detect when it gets dark outside and turn on the lights automatically. Some solar lights have movement sensors, which will only turn the lights on once movement has been detected. These are efficient because they save battery life and are a good idea for situations where you need them to temporarily light your way through the yard.
Important Tips to Consider
While the installation process in itself is fairly easy, there are a couple of tips and tricks that can help you make the most out of your solar light experience:
- We can’t stress enough how important the positioning of the lights is. As a general note, solar lights require about 8 hours of sun exposure every day so that they can illuminate throughout the entire night.
- One of the most difficult things is having to choose the solar lights you want to install. And that’s only because there are so many eye-catching options, you might not know what to choose. The best advice we can give you is to consider what the lights are for and choose accordingly. For example, if you’re planning to illuminate the driveway or a pathway in order to be able to see better in the dark, you need to be able to concentrate the light in a much narrower area. If you want to be able to illuminate the entrance to the house so that you can easily unlock the door at night, you can opt for wall-mounted lights with a remote solar panel. If you’re interested in showcasing the beauty of your garden flora, you can even find solar lights with color-changing bulbs. Just make sure the panels aren’t obstructed by vegetation.
- Something that a lot of manufacturers fail to mention, but it would go a long way if you did it, is to charge the lights before you actually install them. And by “charge” I mean giving them a full 12 hours of sun exposure so that the battery can be 100 percent charged. It kind of like what you have to do when you buy a new phone: give it a full charge.
- Make sure that you clean your lights often. That’s because anything blocking the surface of the solar panel will prevent the light from penetrating and reaching the solar cells, which means that your batteries won’t charge. Cleaning your solar lights shouldn’t just be about clearing dust and debris: think of the layer of snow that ends up on the flat and horizontal surface of a solar panel. That too can get in the way of light reaching the cells.
- When you install in-ground solar lights, it’s much easier is you water the soil beforehand. When having to work with really dry soil, it can be a real pain managing to shove the stakes of your lights into the ground. If need be, you can use other tools, like a shovel. Keep in mind that if you force the light stake into the ground, you could break it (especially if it’s made from plastic).
- So, what happens when you want to illuminate a specific area in your yard but placing the light there won’t give it much access to the sun? Well, you could opt for solar lights that have a remote panel. That means that instead of having the panel attached to the top of the fixture, it’s connected to the lights using a bunch of cables. Ergo, your place the lights in the shady spot and place the panels somewhere in direct sunlight. Now, pay really close attention to that cable that connects the lights and the panel. You want it to be properly insulated, or else moisture, snow, or rainfall can destroy it. If need be, you can consider protecting the cables using special plastic tubes.
- Buy in bulk. This is the best piece of advice for someone who is looking to buy multiple solar panels. Know that there are convenient offers out there for people who buy sets of two, four, or even more lights, rendering a higher cost-efficiency and a much lower price per unit.
As you can see, installing solar lights is simple, but also a process that will depend heavily on the type of light that you’ve chosen. It’s super important for you to consider the purpose of installing solar lights in the first place, as this will make it easier for you to determine what type of lights might better serve your goals. Always make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but also take into account the tips we’ve given you above, to make the best out of using such a product.