Worlds from Fiction

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Books, films and comics have all brought different imaginary worlds to our attention. Whether you’re a die-hard Harry Potter fan or your interests lie within the world of Narnia, it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to immerse yourself in a different world. While some imaginative places may be alongside Earth, such as Neverland which can be reached in the sky, some worlds are entirely dystopian, for example, Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings.

Our latest infographic gives you an insight into these different worlds, along with where they’re from and who thought them up. We’ve also included some interesting facts about them such as the Hundred Acre Wood being inspired by the Five Hundred Acre Wood in Sussex, and that Asgard is based on the realm of the same name from Norse religion. Take a look at the infographic below to find out more about the fictional worlds you know, and to discover any that you didn’t know before.fictional-worlds

 

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Do solar lights work in winter? – the definitive guide

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  1. Do solar lights really work in winter?
  2. Why are my solar lights not on dusk till dawn in winter?
  3. How do you charge solar lights in winter?
  4. What are the best solar lights in winter?
  5. How do you to charge solar lights without sun?
  6. How do solar lights work in the shade?
  7. Can you use rechargeable batteries in solar lights?

 

  1. Do solar lights really work in winter?works-in-winter

All Solar lights work in winter as long as the Solar panel receives enough daylight to power up the batteries to a point that the light can function assuming no faults.

Many people ask if our lights work at winter after having a poor experience in the past, normally with very cheap budget type lights.

All solar lights use rechargeable batteries and with a good set of Lithium Ion batteries costing upwards of £10 so a solar light is less it’s likely to be very limited in performance.

  1. Why are my solar lights not on dusk till dawn in winter?dusk-till-dawn-solar-lights

“Dusk to till dawn” or “always on” are the most common type of solar lights that run at night until dawn or until the charge in the batteries runs out. However the dusk till dawn description can build unrealistic expectations and here at Solarcentre we try our best not to use that description as the time of year, panel positioning and of course the specification of the light all determine how long the light will operate for.
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21 December 2016 is the next solstice and the sun will rise at 07:07 and set at 16:21 in London, that’s 9hrs 14mins of daylight or 14hrs 46 mins night.

 

 

For our premium solar products 1hr direct sunlight can provide up to 1.3hr LED/SMD light output.

Here at Solarcentre we launched two massive technological advances in our solar lights, Power Saving mode, which doubles the light run time by reducing the power going to the LED/SMD bulb.

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Our first Dual Solar Panel lights were also introduced on the Kodiak range. Both features combined offer more than 4 times the runtime of comparable lights without these features.

 

 

  1. How do you charge solar lights in winter?charging-in-winter

No matter what time of year solar lights charge in the same way, the main differences between winter and summer is that the length of time between sunrise and sunset reduces.

The sun in the UK is lower in the sky in winter which has two knock on effects. One being that sunlight has more atmosphere for the suns rays to pass through and the other that a solar panel will produce more when pitched at approximately a 45% angle rather than straight up.

Avoiding shadows is particularly crucial in winter as lengthening shadows that may not have been a factor in summer can make a review of a solar panels positioning an essential task in winter.

  1. What are the best solar lights in winter?best-winter-solar-lights

There are many solar lights that are best for UK winter conditions but it really depends on what you need the solar lights for.

Security solar lights with motion sensor are perfect all year round as the lights that only trigger when movement has been sensed, this is how we can make a security lights with 1,400 Lumens (the brightest in the UK). If bright lighting is essential in winter then we always strongly recommend a motion activated light to provide the best guarantee of the light being there when you need it.

Our range of remote panel solar security lights

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Fairy lights of course use far less power and work all year round. Our Lumify fairy lights have a USB top up for if you ever have very long periods of no sunlight or if you’re struggling to get the panel in a good position for the winter sun.

Last but not least our dual panel lights with power saving mode boast the best light runtimes for always on light in winter!

  1. How do you to charge solar lights without sun?solar-lights-without-sun

Solar panels use the energy from daylight and not direct sunlight, direct sunlight provide the best conditions as it’s the least diffused through cloud. Even the angle of the sun throughout the year is massively affected just by the amount of atmosphere the rays need to pass.

Dark thick cloud will absorb far more daylight than thin white clouds and will in turn reduce the output of the panel. So even on a cloudy and rainy day your panels are still working away.

  1. How do solar lights work in the shade?solar-lights-in-the-shadew

As above solar lights still work in the shade without sun but for the best performance, no matter the time of year, solar panels should be angled directly at the sun with nothing in the way to diffuse the light.

  1. Can you use rechargeable batteries in solar lights?battery

All “real” solar lights should have rechargeable batteries to work, the solar panel simply recharges the batteries during daylight and the lights come on once the sun has set.

Why not check out our full range of solar lighting designed here in the UK for the UK – Click Here For Solar Lights

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Cost Effective Ways to Make the Most of Your Garden This Summer

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We are now well into the summer months, not that you would be able to tell here in the UK, and with warmer weather hopefully reaching us soon we are all going to want to be heading out into the great outdoors to enjoy the fresh air, warm sunshine and the serenity of our own back gardens.

Looking after your garden during summer can be an expensive task – there are plants to water, lawns to upkeep and of course plenty of nuisance insects and bugs buzzing around. In order to help save you time and money, we have compiled a list of useful tips suggesting ways in which you can make the most of your garden this summer

1. Avoid your hose pipe but still water everything

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For every ten minutes that the average hosepipe is turned on approximately 170 litres of water is used. That figure equates to almost 19 flushes of a toilet in the same amount of time. In just one hour, a hosepipe turned out will use the same amount of water a whole family is estimated to use in two days. This all adds up and if you plan to keep your garden hydrated throughout the summer with your hosepipe, you will be met with a hefty water bill! However, that does not mean that you can’t water your plants and flowers, but instead that you should use water sparingly and look for other ways of supplying your garden’s demand for water.

  • Both your lawn and plants are better off when you water them with a watering can – the end of the can produces smaller droplets which sink into the ground more easily.
  • Invest in, or make, your own water butt which you can use to collect rainwater in your garden.
  • Reuse cooking water, bath water or even fish tank water rather than tipping it down the sink or letting it drain down the plughole. The water is full of nutrients and helps to fertilise your plants.
  • To keep in the moisture in and the sun off the soil you should also add a layer of mulch– this can be a layer of tree bark, compost of coconut husks or even ground up corks!

2. Use a compost system

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Another way to keep your plants looking healthy and to save water in your garden is to keep them fertilised in nutrient-rich soil. Whilst you can buy compost from plenty of stores, it is far more cost effective to make your own compost. You don’t even have to buy a compost bin – purely convert an old dustbin by drilling some holes in the side and base and cover with the lid. Once it is set up you can start collecting food waste from the kitchen or garden.

  • To get the most out of your homemade compost and to cut your soil costs in half, you should consider mixing it together with soil. You could also add in extra discards such as coffee grounds.

3. Evening lighting

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Outdoor lighting helps to add a lot of character to your garden, whatever size it may be, and also means that you can sit outside for longer during the warmer evenings. There is a huge selection of garden lights, from battery powered lights to more cost effective and environmentally friendly solar powered lights. With everything from spotlights to lanterns and rope lights, there is something to suit everyone and many can be staked into the ground (great and easy for those who don’t like DIY).

  • To brighten up your garden, you could consider draping overhead spaces with fairy lights, lining your borders with rope lighting, or emphasising particular features of your garden with spotlights. Alternatively, you could also use tea lights inside of old jars.

4. Insect repellent techniques

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Nothing spoils a summer evening more than being bitten by a variety of nasty insects. Rather than covering yourself in a whole host of chemicals, there are plenty of natural and cost effective ways to keep bugs at bay.

  • Mosquitoes in particular do not like the smell of several herbs including lemongrass, rosemary, marigold and mint – so by planting a combination of these in your garden will help to repel mosquitoes.
  • If someone happens to be allergic to bee, wasp or hornet stings, you need an effective way of dealing with them without using chemicals. Fill an old plastic milk bottle with sweet sugar water and cut a small slit into its side – the insects will then not be able to escape but can be released once it is safe.

5. Grow your own

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Most people will find the thought of growing their own vegetables overwhelming but growing your own is in fact far simpler and less time consuming than you would think. Plus, for anybody who thinks a vegetable patch requires lots of space – think again. You really only need a few feet of land, or a few large pots, a source of water and a bit of time. Not only will this save you money on your grocery shop but you will also feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you can pick you own fresh fruit and veg straight from your garden.

  • If you are a ‘grow your own’ novice, lettuce is an easy vegetable to start with and can even be grown in a window box if you are short on garden space. For those with a bit more experience or confidence, you could consider growing tomato plants, which need a fair bit of nurturing in their first few months, chard, or perhaps if you have a little more space, courgettes.

6. Choose perennials over annuals

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Adding colour to your garden can easily be done by planting up your borders. Many people chose to change the plants in their borders each and every season but the secret to a cost effective garden is to choose flowers that will come up every year. A perennial flower garden will result in an eventual low cost and upkeep back garden!

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Solar Lights Not Working? The Ultimate Guide

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Top 16 tips to get your Solar Lights back up and working.

  1. Cover that panel
  2. Replace those batteries
  3. Dodge the shadows
  4. Is that the best angle?
  5. South Facing?
  6. Water ingress
  7. Hungry Squirrels?
  8. On /off switch
  9. Passive Infra-Red (PIR) dials?
  10. Lux sensor dial?
  11. Battery seating/strip
  12. Charging behind glass
  13. Is it plugged in?
  14. To solder or not to solder?
  15. If all else fails there’s always the mains
  16. Grubby solar panel

 

 

  1. Cover that panel

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Covering the solar panel will often trick the lights into thinking night time has arrived early and therefore the light will come on. Solar lights typically stay off automatically by day as they are busy converting the light into energy to be stored in the batteries. This energy is then used at night to power the light. If it’s well after dusk and your light hasn’t come on cover the panel, if it does decide to work you know there’s another source of light hitting the solar panel that’s tricking the light into thinking it’s still daylight. Sometimes a subtle tweaking of the panel location can remedy the situation and have your light behaving as it should do.

  1. Replace those batteriesbattery

Did you know that solar lights often have regular rechargeable batteries inside them? They should always be rechargeable batteries; NiMH or, in more modern products, Li-ion batteries. Because the batteries charge by day and discharge by night, when the light is on, the batteries will lose their charging capability over time. A sign this might be happening to your lights is reduced runtime in the evening, even after a sunny day. Good batteries should last for 1 – 2 years or more before they need replacing but this is only a guide. Some customers tell us they’ve had lights running for more than 6 years and are still using the original batteries – this is the exception rather than the rule though.

  1. Dodge the shadows16948728780_1d8a225209_z

Shadows are best avoided, particularly any falling on the solar panel a couple of hours either side of midday when the sun is at its strongest. Every 3 – 4 months it’s worth taking a quick look at the solar panel around midday to see how shaded the panel might be. Panels installed in the height of summer when the shadows are short are particularly susceptible to shade seeming to come out of nowhere as the sun gets lower in the sky as the seasons change.

  1. Is that the best angle?sunny

    Whilst not as important as outright shadows the angle of the panel can have a real effect on light runtime, particularly throughout winter when the sun is very low in the sky. If your solar light features a panel angle that can be easily adjusted then getting up to a 45 degree angle when winter is at its peak will harvest as much sun as possible.

  1. South Facing?compass

A Solar panel is a lot like a satellite dish – it will work most effectively if it’s pointing in the right direction. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so a south facing panel will harvest sunlight from dawn until dusk. Solar lights can still work if they’re not facing due south; it just means they may not work to their full potential.

  1. Water ingresswater


    Despite the obvious design flaw many solar lights can suffer from issues with water ingress. Well designed and manufactured lights shouldn’t suffer from this issue and you can keep an eye out for IP ratings to learn which products offer the best protection.

    Whilst water may not always present a problem, as some lights allow water to drain away without it accessing any of the sensitive electronics, if water has caused the light to stop working there are still some things you can try: Remove any cover(s) present holding any moisture in place. Store the light for a couple of days in a hot water cupboard to dry out the light. Reassemble the light, double-checking the batteries are well seated. Give the light a day or two to charge and then turn the light on at night.

    It’s also worth checking with the manufacturer. A correctly installed light with a warranty should be covered for water ingress, email a photo or two and you should find a replacement is with you before long.

  1. Hungry Squirrels?hung

Sometimes we get customers sending us interesting pictures where the wildlife have got a bit peckish and helped themselves to some nutritious wire from a string of fairy lights for example. The damage can sometimes be repaired with some electrical tape and plenty of patience. If this isn’t possible it’s worth checking with the manufacturer to see whether spares are available to save disposing of the whole product.

As we’re talking about the wire, with any installation where the wire could be subject to tension, for example a string of fairy lights in a tree, always try to leave plenty of slack between branches. Strong winds can put undue pressure on the cable causing damage that can be hard to find and even harder to fix.

  1. On /off switchpower

This is a classic that we had to include; we’ve even had electrical engineers overlook this one. Not all solar lights have an on/off switch but for those that do make sure it’s set to on. If it’s hard to tell whether the switch is on or off, cover the panel to simulate night time and it should be easy to find out.

  1. Passive Infra-Red (PIR) dials?pir

Some more advanced solar security lights have adjustable dials to fine tune motion detection sensitivity, allowing you to stop cats, bird and other wildlife from triggering the light unnecessarily. This is no one size fits all solution here as the height you install the light, the distance of the light from the motion you wish to detect and even whether the motion is moving across the PIR’s field of view all effect how this should be set. Simply put if your light isn’t activating when you need it too, start with maximum sensitivity and work back from there so the light it only activating as required. A bit of trial and error, preferably with someone to help provide the motion if you’re up a ladder, will get the job done quickly.

  1. Lux sensor dial?dials

This is similar to the PIR however in this case the lux sensor determines how dark it has to be before the light will activate. This can be useful if there are other sources of light that could be tricking the lamp into thinking it’s still daylight and therefore stopping the lamp from activating. Sometimes it’s the reverse, the light could be installed somewhere relatively shady with a remote panel in a good sunny spot. In this scenario setting the lamp to activate when the ambient light is much darker could be useful to save the lamp operating when not required.

  1. Battery seating/stripfix-battery

Another easy thing to check is whether the batteries may have either worked their way loose in transit or as a result of installation. If they’re not touching the terminal contacts the batteries won’t be getting a charge by day or being able to provide that charge at night. If you do detect a loose battery remember to give it a day or two to charge in the lamp before operating the light as the battery may have been flat to start with.

  1. Charging behind glasswindow

While you or I can sit behind glass and feel the full effects of the sun it’s often not the case with a solar panel. Double and even triple glazed windows are very common these days and will often render many of the sun’s rays hitting the panel useless. It’s always best to get the panel outside of any glass in a good sunny spot when charging, put simply the fewer obstructions between the sun and your solar panel the more charge will be generated.

  1. Is it plugged in?

Another one you might think we’re making up here but it does happen. If you’ve got a remote solar panel that’s separate from the lamp you need to make sure the solar panel cable is firmly plugged in, with waterproof connectors tightened if present. Sometimes solar lights will have the batteries stored in the solar panel, other times the batteries will be stored in the light head itself but ultimately if the panel can’t charge the batteries or the batteries charge can’t reach the lamp you’re going to be in for a disappointing light show.

  1. To solder or not to solder?solder

As a general rule of thumb it’s always worth contacting the company you bought from to discuss the issue prior to firing up the soldering iron. Often companies can look favourably on a situation where a customer has tried to help avoid a light ending up in landfill for the sake of a loose wire but ultimately it is going to invalidate any warranty – unless of course you’ve had a chat with the company beforehand.

  1. If all else fails there’s always the mainspylons

Plugging a mains charger into a light or removing batteries and mains charging them can seem like a good idea but unless you’re using a compatible mains charger bought with the light things could go downhill. Solar panels output a specific voltage compatible with circuit componentry and battery voltage. A mains charger might fry circuitry or overcharge batteries, ultimately leading to a purchase of a new light. If the batteries are easily removable, and clearly labelled and you have the appropriate charger then you could guarantee performance for a night or two but you might be better off getting a good solar friendly location to charge your lights in the first place. As always if you’re in any doubt follow the instructions or seek clarification from the company you purchased from.

  1. Grubby solar paneldusty

If you live near a busy road or the panel is in a dusty spot you may find your solar panel performance dips off over time as a result of a film of dust and dirt building up on the panel. Giving it a quick wipe over with a damp cloth every so often will keep it working to its full potential.

Thanks for reading this far, we hope you’ve either got your lights up and running or at least have some ideas of how to get them back up and running again. Always remember if your lights are covered by a 12 month warranty, and all good solar lights should be, provided you’ve followed the instructions you’ll have a replacement on its way to you in no time.

Here at the Solarcentre we have designed Solar Lights for more than 10yrs for UK.

We use the latest Solar Panels along with the most up to date LEDs.

Check out our Dual Panel Kodiak Range:

 

 

 

Our garden post lights with power saving mode :

 

 

 

 

…last but not least our USB backup range of garden fairy lights.

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