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Use Solar Path Lights To Light Up A Walkway And Some Facts About Solar Energy

Updated on May 6, 2015

I have made the decision to install solar path lights to replace the low voltage Malibu lights I’ve had for almost 20 years. I have an entrance walkway from the driveway to the front door of my house. It is pretty dark on that walkway at night, and I wouldn’t want anyone to stumble and fall.

Solar Energy Is A Fasinating Subject

Solar energy is a fascinating subject, and I must admit I have limited knowledge about just the way this whole process works. The sun is such a powerful asset. Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. I am seeing more and more solar panels on residences in order to harness the energy from the sun to heat water in the home. I am told these panels are expensive initially to install; however, I’m told that the system should pay for itself after several years in the way of reduced electricity bills.

In my community, we have street lights that come on at dark automatically and go off at dawn. These are solar street lights. Since they are not dependent on electricity, I’ m sure they are more economical to operate for the county. They require NO maintenance.

Using the energy from the sun also enables us to "go green"!

We Begin The Trouble Shooting Process

The Malibu lights along my walkway went out a few nights ago. I checked the transformer and the timer and they seemed to be working fine. I had to trouble shoot further. This was not going to be easy, and I knew that before I began. My teen age son owes me a big chore because I bought him a new game for his computer. He isn’t fond of working out in the hot 90 degree sun, so I agreed to wait until the sun went down and it was cooler to begin digging.

We started the troubleshooting process by digging up the wiring and inspecting it in three foot sections. I thought if the wire had been cut by the lawn man trimming the grass that part could be repaired. When I first installed the Malibu lighting, I dug the wiring down about six inches, so I didn’t really think that would be the problem. After digging up the entire length of wiring, we could find no cuts. We discovered the wiring was very brittle. The wiring actually broke when we dug it up! has been in the ground for almost 20 years. That has to be the problem. I have an electrical outlet on my front porch, but I had a big job running the wiring from underneath the front porch out to where I wanted the lights to begin going down the path. Then I dug a ditch going out to where I wanted the lights to start. It took me about 3 days working on this project.

The Old Low Voltage Lights

The old brittle low voltage lights and wiring.
The old brittle low voltage lights and wiring. | Source

When I first installed the Malibu path lights, I not only had to purchase the string of lights, but I had to buy a transformer to convert the high voltage electricity currency into low voltage. The transformer cost about $45.00 and the lights cost another $50.00.

Over time, a light would go out here and there. I’d have to replace the bulb. The plastic bulb cover would be damaged by the harsh sunlight and crack and break. Ants would go down into the fixture and cause the light to go out. Each fixture had a plastic top to keep rainwater out. With kids and dogs playing in the yard, the tops would get damaged and have to be replaced occasionally. I would say over the years, I have probably spent another $100.00 on bulbs, replacement bulb covers and tops for the fixtures.

The Top Of A Solar Light


Time For A Big Decision

Now, I had to make a big decision: Do I replace my Malibu lights with a new set? Do I replace my Malibu lights with new solar lights? The solar light is just a portable light fixture that is composed of a bulb, a solar panel (to harness the energy from the sun), and a rechargeable battery.

There are so many types of outdoor solar lights. When I was shopping for path lights I saw solar garden lamps that are used for decoration, and come in a wide variety of designs. I saw some that are holiday-themed and some even came in animal shapes. These lights are frequently used to mark areas around swimming pools or any part of the yard that you want some light.

Solar lamps recharge during the day. At dusk they turn on and remain illuminated overnight, depending on how much sunlight they receive during the day. Discharging time is generally 8 to 10 hours.
Solar lights do not provide as much light as a line-powered lighting system, but they are easily installed and maintained, and provide a cheaper alternative to wired lamps.

On the other hand, I can get a whole new Malibu light system for about $75.00. I won’t have to buy a new transformer and timer because I have the old ones. Then, I remembered what a pain it was to keep replacing burned out light bulbs, and the plastic housing that was forever cracking and falling apart, and I made the decision to go with the solar lights.

Energy From The Sun

I was fortunate to grow up in the country on a farm. We did not have electricity until I was about 12 years old. We depended on the energy from the sun in many ways.

Even as a child, I knew what solar energy was. We just didn't have a name for it. My Mother used the warmth from the sun to heat my bathwater. It would take all day on a nice sunny day, but by nighttime I could take a nice warm bath.

We used solar energy to dry our clothes. I grew up hanging the family laundry out to dry. Until my husband and I could afford a clothes dryer, I hung my baby's diapers on the line to dry. I still remember frozen diapers in the wintertime.

My fellow Hubber tells me that in South Africa, all new homes must be built with solar energy. Wouldn't it be nice if the United States did the same? We would all have lower electricity bills. That is a big chuck of my household budget!

Solar Hot Water Advertisement From 1902

Advertisement for solar hot water out West:  1902
Advertisement for solar hot water out West: 1902 | Source

Solar Panels On The Roof Of A Laundromat


A Solar Trash Compactor


I Purchased 18 Solar Lights

I purchased 18 solar lights for $2.98 each for a total of $53.64 plus sales tax. Each light is so simple to install. I wanted each light to be four feet apart. I found a broken hoe handle that I’ve been saving that was just the right length. We laid that out on the ground to assure the lights would be spaced correctly. The stake that comes with the light and the light assembly is pushed into the ground. Since I had already had the trench dug that was used for the old wiring, the soil was nice and soft and easy to push the stakes into the ground. The entire job took my son and me about one hour to complete.

I could have done this job all by myself very easily. My son is not used to manual labor. The most exercise he gets is moving his thumbs to text on his phone, and to type on the keyboard at his computer. He moved pretty slow on this job!

My Walkway After Solar Lights Are Installed


The Solar Lights Are Beautiful!

It was about 3:00 p.m. by the time we finished our project. I hoped the lights would get enough sunlight to cause the lights to come on after dark! Sure enough, as soon as it was dark, I was amazed! I looked, and each one was beaming out a star shaped light about three feet in diameter. What a sight! I called my son to come out and look. He stopped playing his computer game long enough to admire our work. I called my neighbor to come over and take a look. One of my daughters came by and was so impressed. Now she wants to put solar lights all around her flower garden.

The Solar Lights After Dark

The light extends about three feet in diameter.
The light extends about three feet in diameter. | Source

A Solar Light Near My Water Fountain


Solar Light In Flower Pot


I Made A Wise Decision To Install Solar Lights

I don’t know how long each of these lights will function. I’ll just have to wait and see. Other people who have these lights tell me they get about eight months of wear out of them. I’ll be happy if I get six months of enjoyment from mine. I think I will go back to the store and buy six extra lights now while I can still get matching ones.

I believe I made a wise choice by installing the solar lights along my walkway. I just love to sit on my front porch at night, look at the moon, and enjoy the solar lights we installed. Even my son was impressed with our project. When I look at these solar lights, I can’t help but wonder why we don’t harness the energy from the sun more than we do? It seems like such a waste, especially here in Florida where we have so many sunny days. When I can afford to do so, I’ll put solar panels on the roof of my house to heat my water, and dry my clothes!

I am so pleased with how these lights look, I have now put one by my water fountain. It really looks nice at night. I am still experimenting with this I like the solar light better in the ground OR in a flower pot? What do you think?

If you have any dark spots in your yard or if you have a walkway that should be well lit at night instead of being dark and dangerous, I’d encourage you to install some solar path lights.

Buy name brand Solar Lights for your path

After seeing how nice my solar lights looked on my path, one of my daughters decided to install some along her pathway. She went to a "dollar store", and bought 10 cheap solar lights at a fraction of the cost of mine. Within three weeks, hers stopped working and had to be replaced.

I bought a name brand at a major home improvement store. Mine have been installed for almost three months, and not one of them has stopped working.

So, my advice is: Invest in good named brand lights to begin with. They will last much longer.

Would you like to install solar lights in your yard?

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