Solar Lighting for a Shed, Outbuilding, or Stables

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Choosing the Right Light:

There are plenty of options if you want to light the inside of a shed or outbuilding from the simple to the slightly more complicated. Choosing the right option can be difficult but with this blog post hopefully it’ll be a lot easier!

Why Solar?

First off, let’s assume that you have a long garden and getting mains power to the shed (building) would be a pain. Not only do you need to drill holes through your house, you also need to hide the cable, which means a lot of back breaking work digging and (most likely) an electrician. All of this is expensive in both time and money.
Solar is the opposite of all mentioned above. All of the lights sold at The Solar Centre do not need an electrician to install them. This includes the Geo Lighting Kits which are like a mini solar panel array. Also, it won’t cost you anything in terms of electricity because it’ll be self-sufficient.

Evo 15 Solar PIR Utility Light

This Evo 15 Solar PIR Utility Light packs out a big punch for a small light. It is easy to install with a slim solar panel and clip on style bracket. It is PIR motion activated, which means when you open the door (and as long as you are within range: 2m – 6.5m) the light will turn on and stay on all the time you are in there. This is the smallest shed light we have which can also be used as a basic security light. (You could use the higher powered security lights in your shed but it may be a little overkill if it is only a small area!) It is not designed to stay on for hours though, so I would suggest a different light if you wanted to use it for long periods.

This light will not work during the day. To use it during the day you need to “Fool” it into thinking it is night by unplugging the solar panel which has a lux sensor. This is to stop the light from working during the day when it should be charging. A lot of people use this as a simple security light, for a light over some bins, or for potting sheds.

Vortex Shed Light

The Vortex Shed Light is another light that is super easy to install with a clip design. The solar panel can be attached to the top of the shed or building and the disc shaped light part inside. At night, when you want to use the light, simply click the button on the front. The Vortex Shed Light has three settings: all 36 LEDs (super-bright), 24 LEDs (a little less bright), and 12 LEDs (lowest setting).

This light also has a lux sensor in the solar panel. To make it turn on during the day follow the instructions above for the Evo15 Solar PIR Utility Light. I would not recommend this light if you wanted to read things (like seed packets, a magazine, etc.) as it is less directional than the Evo15 Solar PIR Utility Light and spreads the light further out to illuminate the room. It can, however, run on a full charge for 7 hours.

Solar PIR Porch Light

The Solar PIR Porch Light is like a hybrid that is between the Evo15 Solar PIR Utility Light and the Vortex Shed Light, as it does a bit of both. It has a PIR sensor in the middle (range is 2m – 6.5m) so it will activate rather than the manual turn on and has a slim solar panel, although again it will only work in the dark (unless you unplug it). It has 360 degrees detection range and installs with the clip design similar to the Evo 15.

As this is a hybrid light a lot of people use it for a lot of different reasons but the most common is an entrance light. The light will activate as you get closer to the front door and enables you to find your keys. It’s also perfect for a shed or a bike shelter.

Geo Lighting Kits (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

This is the most complex option but also the most popular for lighting areas that are quite large and don’t have access to a power source. Don’t worry though! As a general rule of thumb, if you can wire a standard household plug – you can use this kit. It is a little more involved than the previous lights mentioned on this blog and I’ll only go into the basics here as we could write a whole blog on just Geo Lighting Kits.

Contents of the Geo 1 Mains Free Solar Light Kit

What can you use this kit for: we’ve had customers using them for a whole range of things from sheds, to stables, to Eco-toilet’s, etc. The options are almost limitless and because of how it all works you can modify it to make it suitable for your needs. For example: want it to work on a sensor: add a PIR, want more switches: that’s fine, need less/more bulbs than the kit provides: just include/remove one bulb. So long as you aren’t using more than the battery can store, you’re good to go! (We generally don’t recommend these kits for anything more than lighting and accessories for lighting. Example: using a power tool with this will put a massive drain on the battery as it was built only to light bulbs.)

 

Each kit will light up to a different sized area, using a different amount of bulbs, and a different sized battery and solar panel. Your choice of kit will depend on the size you need to light:

Geo 1: 16 square metres (5m x 3m) with 1 LED bulb
Geo 2: 32 square metres (5m x 6m) with 2 LED bulbs
Geo 3: 48 square metres (8m x 6m) with 4 LED bulbs
Geo 4: 60 square metres (10m x 6m) with 6 LED bulbs
Geo 5: 84 square metres (10m x 8m) with 10 LED bulbs

After choosing which would be applicable for you the rest is easy. The main set-up is: solar panel (on the roof or using a bracket), to fuse, to battery, to fuse, to light switch, and finally to bulb. Everything you need (apart from the tools to install it like drill) comes in the kit. The only thing you need to purchase is the battery (which you can do at time of purchase via our website).

 

 

Video on how to install a Geo Kit:

Checkout for full range of solar lights for home and garden.

 

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5 Misconceptions About Solar Power

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Converting to solar power doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
Converting to solar power doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

1. Solar Power is Expensive.

This could not be any further from the truth and myth-busting it is easy. The price of solar panels is falling, dramatically, as the demand and amount of importers is increasing. The statistics from the Department of Energy & Climate Change also reported that 50% of all installed solar panels across the UK are residential. If other people are doing it, surely it cannot be that expensive? You also get money back via the Feed-in-Tariff issued by the government for each unit of energy you create. That’s right: you get paid!

You don’t have to convert your whole house to benefit either. If you want garden lights, security lights, or gadgets, a lot of these can now be powered by solar energy. In the long run, even if you only change a few things to solar power, you will save money on your bills each month. It all adds up.

 

2. Solar Power Doesn’t Work at Night.Starry Night Sky

All solar powered items come with batteries. Why? Because the sun isn’t around at night. The solar panel charges to the batteries which then power the light or item at night. Eventually the batteries will need replacing but usually they’ll last a very long time (saving you more money!)

 

 

Installed Solar Security Light3. Installing Solar Powered Lights is Expensive.

You don’t need to hire an electrician to install solar lights or solar kits. You can do it yourself and usually in under an hour; depending on the light you choose. You also don’t need to tap into your mains or drill holes through your house to get the mains wiring outside because solar lights are usually self-contained units with only one wire to the panel. Easy peasy.

You might prefer to hire somebody if you’re like me and worry about falling off a ladder but that choice is yours. The rules (Part P of the planning regulations) include full details about this rule.

Another point to consider if your solar light is an LED light: the bulbs won’t need replacing as often because they last that much longer. (Some quote up to 50,000 hours light-time.)

 

4. Solar Power isn’t Reliable.Reliable Street

This may have been the case when solar power first hit the markets but technology has since improved. Solar panels are better, the batteries can hold more and be changed less often, and the lights are now using the most up-to-date LED technology.

 

 

Yes, I had a Pet Rock as a teenager. I even put boggle eyes on it.
Yes, I had a Pet Rock as a teenager. I even put boggle eyes on it.

5. Solar Power Won’t Last.

This one is an opinion rather than fact based. However, when you look at the statistics, it is hard to believe that this will be a fad that will die out like all of the rest. Governments all around the globe are starting to spend a lot more on renewable energy as we race towards the future. Scientists are exploring new ways that solar power can help us and how far it can go. More importantly: we are starting to think about a greener future as the Eco-movement grows!

Unlike some other fads that I’ve seen in my time!

Also, the sort of solar panels we use degrade less than 1% per year. This means that in 20 years you should still have at least 80% of the performance you had in the first instance.

 

 

Sources:

Planning Portal: Electrical: Part P

Statistics on Increased Demand for Solar Power

The Analysis on The Department for Energy & Climate Change DUKES 2013 Report

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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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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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