When You Need To Turn Solar Lights Off (What’s Best)

Outdoor solar lighting has become an eco-friendly way to beautify a property and provide extra security. These convenient devices charge all day to be ready to light up your nights without the hassle of cords or power outlets.

The beauty of these lights is that they require little to no attention from you beyond installation. They charge on their own and automatically shut on and off, timed perfectly with the sun’s cycle, so they’re only on when you need them. 

So what is the purpose of the power switches on some solar lights? Do I need to turn my solar light off? Here are the main points that I’ll be addressing, among others, about this topic.

  • Reasons to turn solar lights off
  • How solar lights function
  • Changing the batteries of solar lights
  • Tips for choosing solar lights

Read on to learn if it’s necessary to manually turn solar lights off and other pertinent information regarding the workings and maintenance of your lights for optimal function and longer product life.

Flower Beds Growing On The Steps Of The Wall Going Up. Some Plants Are Illuminated From Below With Solar Lights. - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
Flower Beds Growing On The Steps Of The Wall Going Up. Some Plants Are Illuminated From Below With Solar Lights.

Why You May Need To Turn Solar Lights Off

Solar lights are designed to be on all of the time. Many do not have a switch to manually turn the power on and off. The photoresistor inside the light does this automatically when there isn’t a switch. 

If a switch is included, you don’t need to turn them off, but it is beneficial to do so when storing your solar lights or when you want to achieve a deep charge.

For the ultimate care of your solar lights. If they don’t normally work in the winter due to the lack of sunlight, it is best to turn off your solar lights and store them away. This will extend the life of your lights for years. 

How Do Solar Lights Work?

A group of photovoltaic (PV) cells is wired together to create a solar panel. The panel absorbs sunlight and converts it into electricity using a semiconductor material to knock electrons off. An electric field within the PV cell forms an electric current that flows to the battery for storage.

When the sun goes down, the solar cells stop producing power. The photoresistor, or light-dependent resistor, is deactivated when sunlight is no longer present. This allows electricity to flow from the battery to the LED bulb in your solar light and turn it on. 

The reverse happens when the sun comes back up. The photoresistor activates the transistor, which then energizes the relay that stops the flow of electricity to the LED bulb, effectively turning it off.

This is how streetlights are automatically turned on and off in sync with the sunrise and sunset.

Modern Garden Lantern Powered By Solar Energy Decorative Lighting For The Backyard. - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
Modern Garden Lantern Powered By Solar Energy Decorative Lighting For The Backyard.

When Is It Beneficial To Turn Off Solar Lights?

If your solar lights have an on/off switch, there are times when it is a good idea to turn them off. 

It’s common to put solar lights in storage during winter months when being outdoors is less comfortable, and exposure to harsh weather can shorten the lifespan of the devices.

Switch off your solar lights during any period of storage or disuse to preserve battery life. Solar lights still charge when the power switch is turned off. It is recommended to turn them off for periodic intervals while still allowing them to charge.

This enables them to maintain charging efficiency over time and collect a full charge without expending stored power.

Can You Change the Batteries in Solar Lights?

Many solar lights have removable batteries. Check the light specs to see if they are designed for battery replacement. 

It’s optimal to replace batteries every two years to maintain consistent light output. Keep in mind that you will need to remove any batteries when your solar lights are placed in storage to prevent corrosion which can damage your lights. 

A Wet Solar Light In The Garden After Rainfall. - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
A Wet Solar Light In The Garden After Rainfall.

Can Solar Lights Be Charged without Direct Sunlight?

While direct sunlight is the best power source for your solar lights, even on a cloudy day, they will receive enough light to charge, albeit at a reduced rate. 

It’s also possible to charge solar lights with artificial light. Incandescent, LED, and fluorescent light sources will eventually charge your solar lights. The main drawback is the time it takes to charge them fully.

How Long Solar Lights Last

The main components that affect the life of solar lights are the battery and the LED bulb. Solar batteries have an average life of about two years, while LED bulbs can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years. 

The casing can affect the overall life of your lights. Look for casing made from high-quality materials to ensure the structure will last as long as the lighting components.

Why Aren’t My Solar Lights Working?

If your solar lights have replaceable batteries, open the housing and inspect the battery to check for corrosion. If none is present, replace the battery and see if the lights will resume charging.

  • Either a Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) or Nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH) battery can be used as a replacement. The better choice is the Nickel-metal Hydride type as they’re less toxic and more effective in solar lights. 

If the batteries are good, check the solar panel. Anything, including dirt that covers the solar panel, prevents the cell from absorbing light.

Give the panel a good cleaning and see if your lights will charge again.

Solar Lights On Grass
Solar Lights On Grass

How Do You Maintain Solar Lights?

Solar lights can last for many years when properly cared for. Here are some suggestions for maintaining your lights for long life.

Keep the solar panels clean and free of dust and dirt. This will enable the cells to function at maximum capacity and extend the life of the lights.

Bring your lights indoors for storage with the batteries removed when not in use for extended periods. This will not only extend the life of the batteries, it will also decrease wear and tear on the casing by limiting exposure to the elements.

What to Consider When Choosing Solar Lights

The most important consideration is the capacity in which you want the lights to function. Do you want to light a path, spotlight a feature, or support your security system?

There are different options designed for use with specific applications.

Next, decide the desired output. Do you want a subtle accent or vivid light? This will dictate the desired brightness. The number of LED lights per unit helps to gauge how intense the light will be. The more LEDs in a unit, the brighter the light output.

For optimal charging capability, consider the environment. If there’s a lot of shade in the area or you experience frequent cloudy weather, consider lights with a remote PV cell that can be placed in a sunny area or on the roof.

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Sources:

General Solar Panel FAQ

What Problems Do Solar Panels Solve?

In environmental terms, solar panels can potentially solve a handful of problems, including;
1. Air pollution
2. Water pollution
3. Greenhouse gases
4. Reduction in fossil fuel use

For individuals, solar energy allows you to become completely self-sufficient when it comes to your electricity needs and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

What Are 3 Important Uses Of Solar Panels?

The three most important uses of solar panels are;
1. Solar electricity. This can be used to power almost any appliance in your home, including TVs, computers, and fridges.
2. Lighting. In addition to the use of low-power, LED lightbulbs, solar panels can provide an efficient, low-cost, and environmentally friendly way to provide lighting to homes. 
3. Portable solar. In our modern, always-connected lives, our phones, tablets, and computers are almost always with us, and all run on batteries. Portable PV chargers can help keep our batteries topped up no matter where we are, as long as there is some sun to charge them.

Do solar panels give you free electricity?

Once the cost of the array is paid in full, the energy it produces is free. There are ongoing maintenance costs, too, such as annual panel cleaning, etc. 

How much will my electric bill be with solar panels?

Suppose your solar array includes a solar battery backup system, and it is large enough to fully cover your energy usage per day. In that case, your monthly electric bill will be next to zero dollars, even with a grid-tied system. 

If your solar array does not include a solar battery backup system, then at night, your house or business will use grid electricity. That cost will vary but expect to pay from 1/3-2/3 of your average electric bill, and that cost will fluctuate seasonally. 

Do you save money with solar panels?

The simple answer is, Yes, you save money with solar panels. There is an initial upfront cost, but since solar panels are warrantied for 25 years, you will save money over time. You will also begin to see monthly savings in energy bills, but there are other ways that solar panels pay you back. Those include:
1. Adding value to your home or commercial building 
2. Monthly decreases in energy costs
3. The ability to add more energy appliances without increased monthly costs
4. The potential for tax credits for going solar

Can solar panels power a house 24-7?

Most definitely! Solar panels can certainly power a house 24-7, with the addition of a high-quality inverter and a suitable battery bank, of course. To power, a house under normal usage will require a massive solar array, though, and there will be a very expensive initial financial outlay.

Do I need to tell my energy supplier I have solar panels?

This depends on where you live, but in most cases, it’s not necessary to inform your energy supplier that you have solar panels. That said, you may be producing excess power with your solar system, in which case you may be able to sell that excess power back to energy companies.

In this case, you’ll naturally need to be in contact with them. 

What Are Solar Cells Known as and Why?

Solar cells are also called photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are called so because the term ‘photovoltaic’ literally means light i.e. photo and electricity i.e. voltaic.

These cells generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. This effect basically causes the generation of free electrons from the semiconducting silicon material of the solar panel when sunlight hits its surface.

What Type of Solar Panels Are Most Efficient and Why?

There are currently three types of solar panels available in the market that are:
1. Monocrystalline
2. Polycrystalline
3. Thin-filmed

Among these, monocrystalline solar panels are known to be the most efficient among all others.

Does heat enter your home through the roof?

Absolutely. Heat enters your home through your roof, and on a hot day your attic can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Through conduction, heat from the sun warms your roof which then warms your attic and the rest of your home.

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