16 Steps To Install + Plan Solar Lights

Solar lights are a great way to provide lighting for homes, businesses, and cities looking at independence from the power grid. The quality of Light Emitting Diodes (LED) lights and low energy incandescent light bulbs, along with the rapid development of solar panels, have made solar lights commonplace.

For solar lights to be effective, installing in an exposure optimal to the amount of solar radiation is essential. The orientation angle of the solar panel surface must be calculated according to the latitude of the area of installation, and solar panels must not be shaded during the hours of 9 am to 3 pm.

Solar lights applications have been developed for many applications and settings where the function provides lighting during the nighttime.

  • Street Lights
  • Perimeter/Security Lights/Flood Lights
  • Garden Lights & Mood Lighting
  • Pathway Lights

Let’s look at the most important considerations when planning the installation of solar lights?

Solar Lights At Night In A Garden
Solar Lights At Night In A Garden

Steps To Plan And Install Solar Lights

Solar light installation can vary in complexity from very easy-to-install DIY kits to more complex streetlight or security light installations at installation points very high off the ground with various switching mechanisms and movement sensors.

  1. Use a plan drawing of your property, garden, or location to be lit up using solar lights. Identify which directions you want the lights to shine and whether there are any trees or other structures that may prevent sunlight from recharging the solar lights.
  2. Proceed with the following steps:
  3. Identify the areas in which you required lighting
  4. Identify whether electrical outlets exist to power such lights
  5. Identify potential mounting locations such as walls, poles, fences, or garden beds
  6. Identify the type of mountings needed per installation location and the number of solar light kits and hardware to purchase
  7. Identify the tools needed to install the solar lights
  8. Determine the duration and intensity of solar lights needed
  9. Determine the switching mechanism to turn the lights on and off or change intensity settings
  10. Compile a list of tools, installation hardware, and solar light types to purchase
  11. Request a quotation from a qualified Solar Light installer to compare costs between a DIY installation and a professionally installed system
  12. Once you have compared costs and interpreted the quotation of a professional installer, decide to do it yourself or outsource to the professional.
  13. If you decide to install the solar lights yourself, proceed with the installation at an easy installation point to access.
  14. Complete the first installation and test whether the solar lights work.
  15. Proceed with the installation at all other identified points applying the lessons learned from the first installation.
  16. Check that all the solar lights installed are functional and programmed to light up based on your original lighting plan.

The solar light installation is a great way to start learning about solar energy and gives you the confidence to take on more challenging solar projects. Solar light kits are very simple and will not expose you to the risk of electrocution.

You are at the greatest risk when mounting the solar lights on high installation points. Ensure that you have the required tools and have someone to hold the ladder for you. If you are scared of working at heights, start with some garden or footpath solar lights that you can install yourself.

Get some professionals to risk their necks for more complex installations that require you to work higher than three feet off the ground.

Solar Light And Solar Panel On A Garden Shed
Solar Light And Solar Panel On A Garden Shed

How Much Solar Lighting Do You Need?

To determine the correct type and size of solar lighting needed, you must determine how and when you want these lights to provide light. Do you require full-strength light for security or display lighting, or do you require soft ambient lighting for only a part of the night?

The size and light strength of the solar array and the battery capacity will determine how much light radiation is possible. Movement sensors can also trigger the solar lights to light up only when needed.

For garden lighting, pathway lighting, or mood lighting, the use of movement sensors to switch the lights on when needed helps select solar lights with small solar panels and batteries.

If the light of high intensity (flux) is needed for streetlights, floodlights, or security lighting, the design of the solar solution has to be larger and more robust to provide light for the entire nighttime cycle.

The housing of the solar light systems must have to be IP67 (Ingress Protection) rated for outdoor use.

Large Led Light With Solar Panel In A Garden
Large Led Light With Solar Panel In A Garden

What Is The Level Of Protection Needed For Solar Lights?

The housing containing the solar light assembly must be rated by Underwriters Laboratories to be IP67 compliant. Look out for the UL label on the product packaging or product markings.

The location of the installation and the solar lights housing must be such that it will protect the integrity of the solar lights and not lead to deterioration in the safety and function of the solar light installation.

The solar lights must be mounted on walls, poles, or in locations where they will not be prone to vandalism or accidental damage due to weather conditions or passing traffic.

The IP Rating Table

Ingress Protection Ratings
 Level of protection against solid objects, materials, or dust Level of protection against water and other liquids
No protectionNo protection
1Protected against solid objects of 50mm and larger1Protection against vertically falling drops of water
2Protected against solid objects of 12mm and larger2Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15 degrees of vertical
3Protected against solid objects of 2.5mm and larger3Protection against direct sprays of water up to 60 degrees of vertical
4Protected against solid objects of 1.0mm and larger4Protection from water sprayed from all directions – limited ingress
5Protected against dust, limited ingress5Protection against low-pressure jets of water from all directions limited ingress permitted
6Totally protected against dust6Protection against low-pressure jest of water-limited ingress permitted
  7Protected against immersion below 6-inches and 3 feet.
  8Protected against long periods of immersion under pressure
Waterproof IP rating 0 to 68

IP67 means that the device housing must be sealed against dust ingress and must be able to be immersed in water with a depth of between six inches and three feet.


How-To Solar Panel FAQ

How do you set up a solar panel?

When it comes to solar panel installation, there are several ways of doing it. You can do it yourself or hire a contractor to do the installation for you. Solar panels can be mounted on your roof with a specialized mounting system, or on the floor with a safe, specially-made rack.

Some users even have mechanized solar mounting systems, where their solar panels are on a motorized stand that slowly follows the sun as it moves through the sky.

Can you install solar panels yourself?

Definitely! Of course, this depends on the complexity of your setup, though. If you are setting up a relatively low-power, smaller solar system, DIY is certainly an option. If you’re setting up a larger, grid-tied system of over several thousand watts, the installation can become somewhat complex, and it may be a better option to bring in a professional. 

The biggest hurdle is the wiring, especially in a grid-tied, high-power system. Dealing with electrical connections can be dangerous, and any short circuits can quickly cause fires, so it’s important to know what you’re doing or get a qualified electrician to help you.

How to clean solar panels?

To maximize efficiency, it’s helpful to clean your panels regularly. Dust and grime collect up quickly on these large surfaces, reducing the panel’s ability to harness the sun's power. 

You’ll need to wipe them down gently with a cloth or even a soft broom every few months and a mild soap and water solution, especially during periods with little rain. A good clean once every six months is plenty if you live in an area with regular rain.

How to connect solar panels?

Most of the time, solar panels must be connected in parallel to keep the voltage consistent. This simply involves connecting all the positive terminals and all the negative terminals.

Connecting your panels in series will boost the voltage, which you’ll only need to do if you’re trying to meet the voltage requirements of your inverter or batteries.

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