Buyer's Guide - Solar Yard Lights
Solar yard lights are an easy way to be a little nicer to the planet. With the attention that the media and government are placing on global warming, carbon footprints, and energy conservation solar yard lighting is an easy way to help do your part. Sun light is free, and you can harness that power to make your backyard more beautiful. Lighting in your garden is one of the easiest methods to improving the look and functionality of your backyard. Well placed lights allow you to enjoy the outdoors long after the sun goes down.
How solar cells work is best described to normal people like you and me by How Stuff Works as:
Photovoltaic (PV) cells are made of special materials called semiconductors such as silicon, which is currently the most commonly used. Basically, when light strikes the cell, a certain portion of it is absorbed within the semiconductor material. This means that the energy of the absorbed light is transferred to the semiconductor. The energy knocks electrons loose, allowing them to flow freely. PV cells also all have one or more electric fields that act to force electrons freed by light absorption to flow in a certain direction. This flow of electrons is a current, and by placing metal contacts on the top and bottom of the PV cell, we can draw that current off to use externally. For example, the current can power a calculator. This current, together with the cell's voltage (which is a result of its built-in electric field or fields), defines the power (or wattage) that the solar cell can produce.
Or in even simpler terms, the sun hits the semiconductor and forces converted energy (current) into metal contacts to charge the battery inside your solar light. Solar lights that you use in your home or yard will usually have LED (light emitting diode) bulbs inside of them. These are the popular choice because of their extremely low power needs, which allow a solar yard light to operate for a long time on a small charge. The average solar yard lights will stay on for ten hours on a full charge.
There are two common types of solar yard lights; wired and individual cell units. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. They're both excellent choices though!
Read on to learn more about solar powered yard lights.
How Solar Works
Wired Vs. Individual Solar Yard Lights
Wired solar powered yard lights are based around a central solar cell which stores power, then delivers it to the lights via wires. Wired lights can aren't limited in their stylistic design that individual units are. Since there is no need for a solar cell to sit on the top of the light, there is much more room for creative design.
Another advantage of a wired solar powered yard light is the ability to place the solar cell in an area that receives lots of sunlight during the day. This is ideal for shady backyards. If there is a long enough wire it is possible to place the solar cell on a wall or the roof of your house to receive maximum charge.
The obvious benefit of individual solar power yard lights is the fact that they have no wires and can be place wherever you like. If you buy a pack of lights, you have the option of splitting the pack between the front and back yards. Pay attention to the way the sun passes over your yard when installing individual solar powered yard lighting. Lights that are in the shade will not receive the same charge as ones in full sun. They still operate, but for a shortened period of time. This may not be a big deal for most people though, you'll probably be asleep when they turn off!
Installation is a breeze with individual lights. A stake is usually hammered into the ground and the light is mounted on top of that. Easy! Wired lights follow a similar installation, but a narrow hole must be dug into the ground for the wires to run in and the central cell has to be mounted somewhere. Neither are difficult, and professional help shouldn't be needed.
No Bad Choices
Both types of solar yard lights are great, and will be a great addition to your home. Before buying weigh the pros and cons of each to determine which will suit your yard the best. If you want flexibility and be able to rearrange your lights on a whim, individual lights are best. If you are looking for creative designs or have a shady backyard, choose wired. If you make your decision based on these factors, you will have a well lit and earth friendly backyard for years to come!
Also be sure to check out Solar Power For Homes for great information on going green beyond your yard!
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