12 Tips to Reduce The Performance of Your Solar Lights

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We often have people telling us our solar lights are too bright or work for too long and that they don’t want to offend the neighbour by their garden being lit up all night long and are fearful of planes landing in their back garden. So we’ve put together a few tips on how you can reduce the performance of your solar lights or even stop them working altogether:

How to Achieve The Worst Possible Performance of Your Solar Lights:

Solar Lights Next to a Wall

1. Under a Bush

Solar panel Under a bush or in a tree. Any bush or tree will do but the best reduction in performance is achieved by thick foliage conifers are the best trees for reducing performance as they keep green all year round.

 

2. Next to a Fence or Wall

Solar panel next to a fence or Wall – best reduction in performance is achieved by putting the light immediately adjacent to a solid fence or brick wall, if you place the light at the base of a brick wall and on the north side you should be able to get your light to stop working in the winter months.

 

Solar Panel Underneath a Car

3. Solar Panel Under a Car

Parking your car over the top of the solar panel will stop all light getting to it and should result in the light not operating.

Solar Panel Facing North

 

4. Solar Panel Facing North

Facing the solar panel in a north direction reduces the performance significantly.

 

5. Solar Panel facing the Floor

If you want to stop your light working you could try directing the panel downwards facing the floor.

 

Disconnected Panel From Light

6. Disconnect the solar panel from the Light

A light with no power will never work if you are able to disconnect the panel from the light you will remove all energy and completely disable the light from working some lights have the batteries separate from the panel so you may need to drain these down before complete failure is achieved.

 

Solar Panel Behind Glass

7. Solar panels behind glass

This is a great way to stop lights from working as not only are you restricting the amount of light the panel will get by the shadow effect you are also blocking the UV rays as modern windows are designed to prevent the energy required for solar power getting through.

 

 

Solar Panel in Conservatory for Reduced Performance of Your Solar Lights

8. Solar panels in a conservatory

Not as effective as a window sill as less shadow effect however you still have UV protection so should be able to reduce the performance of your solar light significantly.

 

Solar Panel Under Snow

9. Solar Panel Under Snow

This is like putting your solar panel in a shadow; performance will be reduced but unfortunately a good quality solar product will still work a little in this situation.

 

Charging Solar by Moonlight

 

 

10. Solar Charge by Moonlight

If you only try and charge your lights on bright moon lit night the light will fail, make sure you remember to bring the light in before dawn and lock it a way in a dark cupboard during the day though.

 

11. Solar Panel in The Arctic Circle

This is a good way to reduce the performance of your solar lights but that is all it will do the further you get from the equator the more successful at stopping your light working will be.

 

Circuit of a Solar Light Under Water

 

12. Solar Panel Underwater

This will pretty much guaranteed failure of your light because not only is it difficult for UV to pass through water but the water will also seep into your panel and destroy it from within. This will of course mean you will never be able to get your light to work again.

 

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Do solar panels work when there is no sun?

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Do solar panels only work in summer?  Can solar panels work in winter? Does solar really work in the UK?  I hope that by answering these questions I can make things a little clearer and hopefully shed some light on how solar works. An important part of the answer is the type of solar panel being used. There are many different varieties of solar panel available for generating solar energy “electricity”, but these are generally found in one of three guises; amorphous, polycrystalline and monocrystalline.

Amorphous Solar Panel
Amorphous Solar Panel

Amorphous panels

Amorphous solar panels are most commonly found on smaller solar products that are designed with a shorter life span and low energy requirements.  A huge advantage of amorphous solar panels are they need very little light to generate some energy, this enables them to work in shaded locations and means that they are very easy to position anywhere and deliver some light.  The disadvantage is they are very inefficient and so need to be more than twice the size of the other panels to deliver the same energy; or to look at it another way, generate less than half the power for the same physical size.   The result of less energy means the product has to be more efficient with what it consumes and so in regards to a garden light the bulb will be dim. Products that use Amorphous Solar Panels would be decorative path lights or lights that hang from trees in partially shaded locations.

 

Polycrystalline Solar Panel
Polycrystalline Solar Panel

Polycrystalline panels

Polycrystalline panels are basically bits of scrap monocrystalline panels that have been recycled.  Although they will never be as efficient as the monocrystalline panels in direct sun, they do get very close and the fractured nature of the construction makes them more efficient in changeable whether conditions.  Although more expensive than amorphous, polycrystalline panels deliver more energy for your £’s.  The disadvantage is that in very low light conditions they will not be able to harness much usable power – positioning of these panels is very important to achieving the best results. Products that use polycrystaline panels would be more utilitarian in nature where bright light is required for longer periods and in open spacious locations like solar security lighting and feature lighting.

 

Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Monocrystalline Solar Panel

Monocrystalline panels

Monocrystalline panels are the most efficient panels. They are designed to give maximum energy from minimal space and have the greatest life expectancy.  Unfortunately they are the most expensive.  Due to the cost they are rarely found in smaller applications such as home and garden lighting and would be more at home in a solar farm in the desert .  The disadvantage is that they do not perform well in cloudy or darkened conditions.

Monocrystalline solar panels are ideal for larger home energy systems and solar farms.

Summary
All solar panels will perform better in open south-facing locations that get direct sunlight. Amorphous panels will work best in shady or cloudy conditions, but will not compete with monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels will when the sun comes out.  Monocrystalline panels are better than polycrystalline, but are more expensive.

So do solar panels work when there is no sun?

do solar panels work when there is no sunNo, but all solar panels perform best when the sun is at its best and that is in the summer. Can solar panels work in winter and does solar really work in the UK? Yes, so long as the size and power of the solar panel is relative to the thing it needs to power. Take solar lights for an example. Cheap solar lights that have a panel the size of a postage stamp will struggle to work at the best of times. High quality solar lights with bigger panels can work reliably reliably in UK winter time so long as they are well located.

panel-comparison

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The Solar Electric Car – Just Gets Better

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No sooner had I finished writing the article on Green GT’s Solar Electric car did I come across more images of the developments they have made.
Wow it is simple I am converted where do I sign up I want to buy one!

Green-Gts-Electric-Car

And apparently the intention is to race in Le-Mans as soon as 2011 – I will say it again Wow! – it seems amazing that from electric power which can be recharged for free from solar, harnessing the suns power can then power a Le-Mans racing car.
I did notice a lack of solar paneling on these images but I am sure that is just so it looks pretty in the pics.

Further confirmation of this cars impressive performance is it is meant to have 350-400 bhp which means that 0-62mph is achievable in less than 4secs – Unbelievable!
One of my questions answered though.

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Solar Electric Cars at Le-Mans? It will never happen!

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When asked the question – would i drive an electric car my initial thought is of a milk float; not exactly the best vehicle to impress the girls.
Then I was shown these pics:-

Green-Car-back Green-Car-front

Surely this was a joke a car that had a top speed of 5mph jazzed up to look like a race car, but no this car can supposedly go 170mph! I of course want to read more – I now had all the questions how quickly does it get to this speed? How long can it be powered for? Could i drive from one end of the country to the other without any fuel? Top car Manufacturers Audi have already shown Le Mans can be won by diesel power will solar electric be the next winning Le-Mans car?

This Solar powered electric car comes from the team at Green GT and it’s an impressive car on paper. The race-spec carbon-fiber chassis holds two liquid-cooled 100-kilowatt (about 148 horsepower) motors that the Swiss gearheads claim put 1,475 pound-feet of torque to the tarmac at up to 100 mph. That figure rolls off to 590 pound-feet beyond the century mark and stays there as the car approaches its claimed top speed of 170 mph. The juice comes from a pair of 30-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion polymer battery packs. All told, the car weighs 1,896 pounds.

If that’s still not green enough for you, the guys at Green GT have installed Flexcells solar panels on each sidepod for extra charging. The whole shebang is brought to a quick stop with Brembo brakes mounted within lightweight magnesium wheels.

The plan is to test the prototype through the summer and begin series production once they’ve sorted everything out. The goal is to build 20 to 25 cars and possibly launch a European race series for the car. Ultimately, the firm hopes to race against its fossil-fueled counterparts in the LMP2 class at Le Mans.

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Solar Christmas Lights

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Excellent news you can now get Solar Christmas Fairy lights in a massive selection of colours. So there is no excuse not to be Green this Christmas – or red or yellow or blue because whatever the colour or length you require it can now be provide for.
Visit Solar Christmas Lights to see the range.

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Solar Spot Light – Super Bright

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There are many solar spot lights on the market – some metal, some plastic, some bright some decorative. So how do you pick?

I have always believed that a spot light should be to highlight something, whether it a statue, a building or a tree.  However the majority of solar spot lights simply are not powerful enough – that was until i discovered the 8 LED Solar Garden Spot.  This really is a super powerful solar garden spotlight like none other on the market.

With 8 Bright LED’s all lined up in a row with a super reflective backing really make this solar light project over a great distance with a good spread of light also.

Now not everyone is like me, some would prefere a more subtle effect from their solar lighting but I don’t think i am alone in expecting the solar lights to work for 4-6 hours every night even in winter – in fact more so in winter as it gets dark earlier and not only do you need light for a longer period but it is when you get to show off your garden lighting for every one to see.  The Solar Garden spot is bright and does last 4-6hrs per night even in winter but if you want a slightly less bright light then my second choice would be the solar spot this again is trully a dusk until dawn solar light with amazing performance for its size – I would use this solar light for shrubbery and small garden sculptures it will light up a good 5 metre area though so still very powerful.

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How to Buy a Solar Garden Light

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Want to know how to buy a garden light that will last all year round!

Dont know how to pick the right light for your needs?

I am going to try and help with this simple guide.

There are three main points to a light – The Panel, The Power (battery) and the Light (LED’s).

Most garden lights will have 1 (one) LED these are the sort of lights that are normally available as a set of four and are fairly cheap they are designed either to be decorative or as path markers. General Solar Garden Lights are available with 2 (two) LED’s through to 4 (four) LED’s. Any more than 4 LED’s and the light is either a solar spot light or a solar security lights and not meant to be lit all night.

Battery – generally the cheaper garden lights will have 1 (one) 600 mAh AA or AAA battery this can be replaced with a slightly higher powered battery if you want to, this will allow the light to last longer into the night during the summer monthes but will not improve winter performance. The higher the power of the battery the more LED’s it can power or the longer the light will remain on e.g. a light with a 1200mAh battery will last twice as long as a similar light with a 600 mAh battery.

A light with 1 LED and 600 mAh will last the same amount of time as a light with 2 LED’s and a 1200 mAH battery but the light with 2 LED’s will be brighter.

The final piece of the puzzle is the panel and although their is a science it is not one that has to be given much thought. As a general rule the bigger the panel the more power it will produce. If you have a light with four LED’s 2 x 1200 mAh batteries and a tiny panel then you will find the light will probably work for a couple of nights but struggle to work beyond this.


In Summary

The more LED’s the brighter the Light.

The higher mAh figure the longer the light will stay on for.

The larger the panel the more power will be put back into the battery.

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Solar Festival Charger

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In 2008 The Solar Centre took part in a few festivals and exhibitions to see what the market wanted and what people thought in regards to solar.
The general comment was “solar does not work” and then with a quick Solar Phone Charger demonstration a number of people changed their opinions to “Solar is the Future”.
In fact at the Glastonbury Festival we had many people coming back to us with friends for them to buy one and buying more as solar Christmas gifts for friends and family.
It really was an eye opening experience for us to see the lack of faith in solar and for our customers to see how far solar has developed.
We tried to take a range of solar gadgets and solar gizmos to demonstrate that solar means a lot more than simple solar garden lights. We also wanted to see what people were interested in buying whether it was a solar toy for them or the latest solar gizmo for a tech savvy awkward to buy for friend. The results were pretty conclusive with The Solar Mobile Chargers stealing the show.

My favourite just for the record was the Power Monkey a bit more expensive than the Freeloader but far better when you needed a charger to rely on over several days and when you wanted to charge your ipod as well as your phone in one day.

Have you used a Solar charger?  What do you think!  Let us know your comments.

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Have a Greener Christmas

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There has been a lot of talk about the amount of carbon that is produced at Christmas from Fairy Lights.

People being deterred from decorating their trees and homes for fear of being un-eco and being judged for polluting the environment and increasing their carbon foot print.

“Carbon footprint” from the Oxford Street and Regent Street lights would take 215 trees 100 years to “offset”. (This is London 9/11/06)

Just one house, on a 25-night bling binge, could be chucking out about 25 metric tons of C02. With something like five million houses joining the party, the environmental cost is mind-boggling. And think of the electricity bills. One enthusiast, Peter Thomas (whose spectacular housebling in Wales made the cover of Christmas Houses), admits to spending an extra £480 a year on powering his December displays (telegraph 19/12/07)

fairylights

Well we do not need to worry any longer with solar powered fairy lights that operate for 20 hours when fully charged, even here in the UK we can be Green this Xmas and save money on expensive electricity bills too.

When buying Solar Xmas lights do be aware of lighting times and charging times as you don’t want to set your lights up for them to only work for a couple of hours each night.

So be Green this Xmas and buy Solar Xmas Fairy Lights!

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Holy Solar

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Roof tiles on the Paul VI auditorium are being replaced by 2,700 solar panels in move that will save over 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted every 2 weeks.

With a reported installation cost of £1.5 million the Pope is certainly lucky they’ve been donated by Bonn-based company, Solar World at no cost.

Surplus power will be fed back into the grid earning the Vatican a good chunk of revenue when it’s not being used to cool or heat the 6,000 seater hall.

See video footage of the installation here.

Thanks to the BBC for this story.

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