Solar power is an important source of renewable energy that can be used to fuel a multitude of items, including our lights. Over recent years solar power has become an increasingly popular source of energy and has been at the forefront of some rather interesting inventions. Nowadays, scientists and manufacturers are beginning to harness the sun’s energy and using it to power all sorts of wonderful creations, including wheelchairs, cars and hearing aids.
Have you ever been out when your phone has died and you desperately need to charge it? Well there’s now a solar plug socket so that you can charge your phone wherever you are, without the need for electricity. After all, solar energy is the power of the future, and so it’s about time that our normal day-to-day electricity powered items started to use cleaner solar energy. Our new infographic explores the most incredible inventions that run on solar energy, including homeless shelters and ferries; take a look below!
Adam goes on to show how to light up your garden with our solar lights:
The picture really shows off Adams flowers pots using our Solar Spotlights to highlight the features of the hand folded moulded and laid planter along with lighting up the flowerbeds with our Solar Post Lights.
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!
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.
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.
With so many options to choose from, finding the right Solar Garden Spotlight can be difficult. Luckily we’re here to provide you with a little guidance on the spotlights The Solar Centre provides. In this blog I’ll outline the advantages of each spotlight and where it would work best.
Thea Solar Garden Spotlight
The Thea Solar Garden Spotlight is a broad beam spotlight, almost a mini-floodlight, which is good for lighting large areas and can light up to 15m in distance. It is a winter worker which means it has a large solar panel and a battery to help it during the winter months where light is sparse. On a full charge it can power on for up to 12 hours.
There are several different ways to install the Thea Solar Garden Spotlight ranging from the spike to push into the ground, to the triangle mount which can be screwed to decking, walls, fences, etc., all of which is included in the box. It is mostly made out of hardened plastic.
A lot of people have used this light for sign-lighting due to the broad beam but also for sides of a building, mural, and anything that is large.
The advantage: it lights a huge amount of space and has multiple options on how to install/mount the light.
The disadvantage: the solar panel is attached to the top of the light on a directional joint. If you intend to light something under a tree/shade I would not recommend this light as the solar panel would be in the shade. This light must be installed in direct and unobstructed sunlight.
Helios Solar Spotlight
The Helios Solar Spotlight is a directional beam of light that can go up to 8m. This is another light that will work well in winter, same as the Thea Solar Garden Spotlight. On a full charge it can power on for up to 10 hours. It is made out of metal and glass. It’s a robust little light.
The Helios Solar Spotlight also has several different ways to install, including spike and wall mount, all of which is included in the box. This light tends to be used for single plants to highlight a part, or a small statue, or a series of spotlights along a walk-way.
The advantage: this light is great for highlighting an area to draw the eye to the spot. It’s also ideal for the smaller garden as it won’t flood the pitch.
The disadvantage: the solar panel is attached to the top of the light on a directional joint. If you intend to light something like a tree I would not recommend this light as the solar panel would be in shade. This must be installed in direct and unobstructed sunlight.
Selene Solar Landscape Spotlights (Set of 2)
The Selene Solar Landscape Spotlights has two spotlights that run from one solar panel. The light part is a lot like the Helios Solar Spotlight, it is a directional light that is great for highlighting a particular area but in this case you get two for the price of one! This makes it great to highlight the same area from two different directions as there is 5m of cable from the solar panel to each light (splitting with a Y connection from the solar panel).
This light also a works in winter conditions and can go for up to 10 hours on a full charge. The light is made of metal and spikes and solar panel is mostly hardened plastic. The Selene Solar Landscape Spotlights also has several different means of installation, including spike and wall mount, all of which is included in the box for each light individually and the solar panel.
The advantage: as the solar panel is connected by a cable it means you can position the lights in a shaded part of the garden. So long as the panel has access to unobstructed daylight they’ll work just fine.
The disadvantage: how large is the area you want to light? If it is large and you can put the solar panel in direct sunlight then I would recommend the Thea Solar Garden Spotlight instead.
We hope this guide will help you in choosing what is right for your garden and your specifications. As always, if you have any questions regarding the lights and range that we offer, you are absolutely welcome to call the office for some advice. We are happy to make suggestions on your specifications or answer any questions. (Tel: 01727 841014)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nothing is more frustrating to honest solar retailers than the relentless flow of cheap solar lights available on petrol station forecourts and other retail outlets. We often take calls from customers who are keen to try something new, like a solar security light for example, but are having trouble recovering from their last solar light purchase which barley manages a whimper come dusk.
Some point the finger at China but this is often unfair as China simply manufactures to our demand. You can get great products from China and you can also get rubbish much like anywhere else. More worryingly, others point the finger at solar itself as their ‘throw-away’ solar garden light flickers out its final flutter. This can do damage to the solar industry as a whole and also the wider environmental cause. Would you consider solar panels for your house if your only previous experience of solar was a garden light not fit for purpose?
The truth is that both solar and the Far East are capable of generating fantastic products and these products are readily available in our shop as well as many others and they needn’t cost the earth. It is our hope that as time moves on the questions will be about the difference between good solar products and bad solar products rather than the integrity of solar itself.