Opinions on solar powered lighting outdoors
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Mr White
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Re: Opinions on solar powered lighting outdoors

by Mr White » Fri Jan 13, 2023 5:41 pm

Lots of variables to give a specific answer.
How big is the solar panel on the light.
Where is the light to be situated.
How much sunshine will you get.

The list goes on.

I have tried several over the years, all coming to the same conclusion. They are good(ish) in summer, but of little use as it doesn't get dark till 22:00 ish, so they are not needed for long.
In winter, it's dark around 16:00 and by 16:30 (Sadly, not joking.) most have gone out as the battery did not have long enough to charge or enough sunhine.

Often, you will find that the solar panel will fail, letting in water, or the fitting itself will let in water, or condensation fills the fitting or a combination of previous problems.

Another thing, is you can't turn them on or off when you want, so the stored energy is wasted.

In my opinion, self-contained solar lights are a complete waste of money. On the other hand, you could D.I.Y. using big solar panels, and battery storage etc, but it will be cost prohibitive. Mains operated lights are more flexible, you can even control them from a phone app.
I would suggest you look at https://amzn.to/3ZA0zn3 as you "string them up" and just plug them in.

ericmark
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Re: Opinions on solar powered lighting outdoors

by ericmark » Tue Jan 17, 2023 1:15 am

I have same problem, and I have tried various solar lights, one set worked well for a short time, then got water in them, they had a PIR so only lit when you walked up to them, but still run out of battery in the winter.

The type without PIR again soon run out of battery.

I had one with separate panel and lamp, PIR control which is reasonable but depends on number of cats setting it off.

Christmas lights seemed to work reasonably well, since bits outside were extra low voltage and wires thin, just trapped wired in window, but darn things flash, which is not really what I want.

I have tried to fix some mains operated lights, there were some when we moved in around 150 watt quartz halogen but had to come down for roof repairs, replacement 9 watt [attachment=0]Night-light.jpg[/attachment] and it helps see way to door, when we park car at bottom, but not ideal.

So for me looking at around 50 watt of lighting around the house, so around 4 to 5 amp at 12 volt, only real way to get that much power is a car type battery, yes with wind chargers and solar panels I could power them, but for the once in a blue moon BBQ, a 12 AH battery in a car jump start unit is likely the best option, and when finished put the battery on charge. Maths is simple 12 AH means 1 amp for 12 hours or 2 amp for 6 hours.

To charge with solar panels 12 AH will need at least an amp charge, or into watts, 12 watt panel but more like a 20 watt panel, looking at £20 to £40 and 12 volt 10 Watt flood lamp around £15 likely for BBQ you will need two, and Jump start pack around £45. So to light a BBQ will cost around £75 if taking in doors to charge, and £120 if using solar panels.

Clearly you can make battery boxes which blend in, and make a good job, if you look at ready built solar lights from Screwfix again not cheap, around £40 for a reasonable one, but you can get a pack of 4 lights from Amazon for around £23 these are what I bought, and did not last a year.

So how much light do you need and for how long and what are you willing to pay, my jump start unit has a light built in, and for a BBQ that is enough.
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Mr White
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Re: Opinions on solar powered lighting outdoors

by Mr White » Wed Jan 18, 2023 1:45 pm

Although a car battery jump starter may have an integral lamp, it might not, not to mention heavy and bulky and cost, I would suggest considering a camping light such as This one Or for some real atmosphere a couple of These and a pack of These

Obviously I only mean these for a BBQ

ericmark
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Re: Opinions on solar powered lighting outdoors

by ericmark » Wed Jan 18, 2023 2:31 pm

My aim is in the end to have mains lighting at my BBQ, but in the main they are finished before it gets dark, we can use extension leads, but in the main things are starting to wind down anyway by that time, so the battery pack on the table is normally good enough, it does have a 150 watt inverter built in, so can run 230 volt lights, but not done that yet.

But for more permanent lighting, to walk from car to house etc, then the battery pack is a bit useless, what I want is a light which is only one when walking from the car, not dusk till dawn.

So the main problem is the use of a PIR, (passive infrared) if too sensitive battery goes flat, and if not sensitive enough it does not light up, there are some expensive battery/solar lamps which I am sure work fine, but I got cheap ones from the internet, and they have all but one now failed.

I was busy last week fitting wall lights which are mains powered, using smart adaptors or bulbs, so I can switch on from the car, until now my wife would turn on her bedroom lights to get light on the drive.

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