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A solar light consists of three main components, a light, a solar panel and a rechargeable battery. The battery is the light’s power source and its storage capacity determines how long the light will operate for each night. The solar panel’s job is to recharge the battery during the day using the sun. If the batteries storage capacity is too small, the light might only last a couple of hours into the night. If the solar panel is too small, the battery may only get half charged each day and not be able to run the light for the required time. Sometimes the battery will be built in to the solar panel, sometimes in to the light and sometimes all three are built in to the one fixture. It is generally preferable for the solar panel and the light to be separate, making it easier to place the light where desired and the panel where it will get the most sunlight. The solar panel needs direct sunlight to operate efficiently and in Australia facing the panel North will give it the most direct sunlight. If the panel must face East or West it is fine, it will just take the panel a bit longer to charge the battery, which quality solar lights will cater for. Avoid facing the panel South as it will perform very inefficiently. When facing North the panel will do the majority of its charging between 10am and 2pm, so it is not the end of the world if it spends a couple of hours in the morning or afternoon covered by shade. Majority of solar lights today use LEDs as their light source. LEDs have a very low power consumption and are very durable when compared to other light sources. This makes them ideal for solar lighting as it means a much smaller battery is required to run them for the night.
The biggest benefit of solar lights is that they have their own power source (battery) and do not need to be plugged in to mains power to operate. This means that if there is an area around the home or in the garden where you would like a light, it does not require an electrician to come and install it for you. Another reason having its own power source is a huge benefit of solar lights is that there is a $0 running cost. With electricity prices continuing to soar, it is very common for people to substitute their outdoor grid powered lighting for solar lighting. Because a solar light does not require power from the grid, they are very handy in a black out. In some places solar lights are essential as mains power can be down for days and even weeks at a time. People living in remote areas and campers that don’t have access to mains power also find a solar light very beneficial, as it means they can use more of their limited battery power on things other than lighting.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to solar lighting and there are lots of other features and components that make up a quality solar light. To learn more have a read of our solar lighting comparisons post.