Solar garden lights are a familiar sight in many gardens now, as the money-saving benefits are well known, as well as the ease of installation and maintenance in comparison with wired or battery powered lighting. But how can you get the best performance out of your solar garden lighting, and ensure the best value for money?
Let’s look at the ways you can get maximum value out of your solar lighting.
Where to place your lights
If you’re designing your garden and outside spaces from scratch, and you want to incorporate solar lighting, consider how solar garden lighting works and the type of lighting you want to use, and make sure your design and layout maximises the available direct sunlight necessary for powering the lights.
If you aren’t able to change the layout of your garden, position the lights so that they are in direct sunlight for the maximum amount of time. Choose a spot for your solar light that is south facing, and out of shadows, especially during the middle of the day between 10.00am and 2.00pm. If you want to reposition the lights after dark, don’t forget to replace them during the day for recharging.
Keeping your lights clean
Gardens and outdoor areas are not sterile environments, and it’s inevitable that a build up of dust and dirt, and even the odd dead leaf, will obscure the solar panel, compromising it’s effectiveness. Wiping the surface of the solar panel with a damp cloth from time to time will maintain performance.
Because solar lights are so easy to set up and require little maintenance, it’s easy to forget about them. Try scheduling in a regular date in your diary to give them a clean, and check the solar panels are not covered by anything.
Using solar lights in winter
Most modern solar garden lights will work in winter. In fact many models of lights, in particular fairy and decorative lights for use over the festive season, are designed to provide illumination with minimal daylight.
If the conditions become very cold, colder than is normal for your area, and there is heavy and deep snowfall, you may want to consider storing your lights indoors until the weather improves, especially lights that are positioned close to the ground.
When storing lights indoors, turn them off, and bring them out again as soon as the weather improves. Leave the lights outside charging for three days to restore the battery, then reposition and enjoy!
Long term maintenance
It’s worth noting that whilst the photovoltaic solar panel and LED lamp will not need replacing, the rechargeable battery inside the unit has a long, but finite lifespan, and at some point you will have to replace the battery. It’s generally best to go back to the place where you bought the solar garden light in the first place for spare parts.
If your solar light stops working, try moving it to a more sunny spot, switching it to recharge mode, and leave for three days, which should help it to get started again.
Choosing solar lighting for your garden is a great, hassle free way to enhance your outside areas without adding to your energy bills. The lights cost nothing to run, and most models turn on automatically at dusk. But if you set them up and forget about them completely, you could risk a diminished performance.
A very minimal amount of planning and maintenance will ensure a great display for your garden, at no extra cost.
Nigel Berman is the founder and MD of the award winning Nigel’s Eco Store, providing resourceful, energy saving and eco friendly solutions for the home, garden, work, travel and more. Take a look at our selection of solar garden lights; decorative, low cost and practical lighting for your garden and driveway. Photo by