Solar Powered Christmas Lights - For Cheap & Green Xmas Lighting
Solar Christmas lights are increasingly popular, and are great for those who want to save on energy bills, while helping the environment too. Many people like to decorate their homes with festive lights, but unfortunately this can be an expensive business, especially if you want to hang lights outdoors. But solar lights can really help to cut the cost of Christmas, and have other benefits too. This article takes a look at why you might want to use solar lights at Christmas, and provides a guide to the different types of lights that are available.
What Are Solar Xmas Lights?
Solar lights are connected to a control board, which features a battery and a solar panel. This may be contained with the light, as in the case of large standalone lights, or may be on a separate panel, as in the case of string lights. The solar panel absorbs energy from the sun during the day, which is in turn transferred to the battery, and used to power the lights. The lights turn on automatically, thanks to an inbuilt light sensor, which detects when darkness is falling. Solar tree lights (and other types) use LED (light emitting diode) bulbs, and may be white or colored. The amount of time the lights work for depends on how fully charged the battery is; a bright sunny day will generally provide enough power for up to 15 hours of light, whereas a cloudy day will produce less.
Benefits of Using Solar Powered Christmas Lights
No need to have an electrical outlet nearby – you can place solar lights anywhere you like, and don't need to worry about find a place to plug them in.
Cheap – solar Christmas lights are generally cheaper to use than conventional lights, which may use up to 100W of power per string – as you can imagine, this soon adds up, especially if you're using several strings and leave them on a lot of the time.
Long lasting – on average, solar Christmas light bulbs last longer than the regular type, and with care, you'll often get at least 3-5 year's use out of each bulb.
Environmentally friendly – solar lights absorb energy directly from the sun, and don't require the use of electricity generated from fossil fuels, nuclear power or other potentially damaging methods.
Safer – traditional Christmas lights use filament bulbs, which can get very hot. Solar Xmas lights, in contrast, use LEDs, which stay cooler, posing less of a fire hazard. Plus the absence of plugged in electrical cables helps to reduce the safety risk further.
Remember that solar lights aren't limited to Christmas! Although some types of lights are obviously Xmas-themed, many (such as string lights) can be used for other purposes too, such as parties and other events throughout the year.
Downsides of Christmas Solar Lights
Although solar lights are a great choice in most ways, they're not perfect. They're not available in quite the same variety as traditional lights, although more designs are becoming available as they become more popular, and you can get different shaped bulbs, in contrast to the plain round bulbs that were pretty much the only choice at first. They're also limited to about 8-15 hours of illumination at a time (depending on how sunny it is during the day), so you may not be able to have them on all night – this is more of a problem for people who live in northern regions.
Types Of Christmas Solar Powered Lights
Solar powered Xmas lights are generally used outdoors, since they need to be exposed to direct sunlight during the day in order to absorb power. Most solar Christmas lights can be used indoors too, although you must ensure that they can be exposed to enough sunlight to recharge.
Commonly available solar lights include:
Solar String Lights
Small strings of 'fairy lights' are perhaps the most common type of Xmas light that's available, and they're very versatile. They are used to decorate Christmas trees and bushes, as well as to string around windows, doorways and other areas you wish to highlight. You can get both short and longer strings; short strings are best for small areas, such as window frames, whereas you might want longer strings of lights for large trees or illuminating the perimeter of your house.
Solar Rope Lights
Rope lights are very popular, and feature a sequence of small LEDs strung together, and covered with clear plastic tubing. They are safe and flexible, and can be used to decorate in many areas, including use as solar Christmas tree lights.
Solar Net Lights
As the name suggests, these small solar LED lights are strung together in a net, and can be draped over bushes and other objects, providing a very attractive effect.
The above types are usually available as twinkling lights, or as lights that are always on. The twinkling variety may have a control panel that allows you to set the rate at which they flicker.
Xmas Solar Stake Lights
You can also get standalone lights that are attached to stakes, which you place in the ground. These are generally larger in size, with a single bulb, and feature a variety of decorative shapes, such as Santa Claus, holly wreaths, snowmen, Christmas trees and other seasonal motifs.
Remote Controlled Solar Lights
If you want to go the whole hog this Christmas, look for solar lights that come with a remote control, so you can change the brightness level, colors and other options. These cost more, as you'd expect, but can really help to create some stunning Christmas lighting effects.
Christmas Light Covers
Another option for outdoor lighting is to cover existing solar lights with Christmas-themed covers – this can be an even more cost effective way to create Christmas lighting.
Solar lights, like other types of Christmas lights, may feature white or colored LEDs, making them very versatile. Always ensure that you place your solar lights in a spot where they will be able to absorb direct sunlight during the day.
Buying Solar Lights For Christmas
Christmas lights are available from many stores that sell conventional lights and other Xmas supplies. However, you'll find a larger variety available online, often at cheaper prices too, since web-based stores have lower overheads.
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