Solar lights are fast becoming a popular choice for homeowners, gardening enthusiasts, and landscapers alike thanks to the multitude of benefits they offer. They’re cost-effective to run because they convert energy from the sun into electricity and their lack of wiring makes them easy to install and maintain.
Solar fixtures charge up during the day, enabling them to provide hours of illumination at night without relying on a power source. The word “solar” means “relating to the sun” and sunlight plays a big part in powering up these efficient fixtures. But what happens when sunlight is not guaranteed? Can solar lights still function under the grey canopy of the winter sky?
A sunny, cloud-free day will always offer optimum conditions for charging solar panels. But this doesn’t mean your outdoor solar lighting is rendered useless in overcast weather. Winter skies can be dotted with cloud cover a lot of the time but solar lighting will charge regardless. This is because it does not rely exclusively on sunlight to charge – exposure to long periods of daylight works too. If the solar panel receives enough hours of daylight on a cloudy day the fixture continues to work.
Summer days typically last 12 to 14 hours, while winter days are much shorter giving your solar panels less time to charge. This requires a little extra effort on your part to maximise your solar lighting’s efficiency in the winter months.
Take note of these four points to get the most out of your solar lighting year round:
- Regardless of the time of year, the sun is always at its strongest at midday. With this in mind, position your solar lights so that they receive the full noon sun.
- Buildings, plants, and trees can cast shadows over your solar lights preventing them from direct exposure to the winter sun’s rays. Install your fixtures in a location that won’t become shaded as the sun moves during the day (north facing is best). Make a point of observing your fixtures throughout the day to see if any unwanted shadows fall on them.
- Solar lights will charge even when turned off. Turn them off during the day to ensure maximum energy output at night.
- Depending on where you live, winter weather often means rain and wind which can cause leaves, dirt, and debris to fly around and settle on your solar fixtures, inhibiting their performance. Keep the panels clean by giving them a wipe with soapy water and a soft cloth.