Questions and Answers
HOW DO SOLAR LIGHTS WORK?
The solar panel charges the lights internal battery during the day and the light operates from dusk to dawn using the stored battery power.
HOW DO SOLAR LIGHTS CHARGE ON DULL DECEMBER DAYS IN THE UK?
The solar panel converts daylight into an electrical charge that charges the battery to power the lights. Whilst prolonged use night after night may drain the battery, normally there will be sufficient reserves in the battery to last several days without any charge. If a battery becomes exhausted following several nights of frequent use and several days of minimal charge, the unit can be turned off to recharge on the next bright day. Cold bright winter days actually produce a better charge than some summer days.
IS THE UK SUFFICIENTLY SUNNY TO MAKE SOLAR PRODUCTS A GOOD INVESTMENT?
Solar energy is a free energy source with significant potential in all parts of Europe including the UK. Each year the UK receives more solar energy than is frequently imagined. Annually on average the UK receives 960kWh, equivalent to 3.42GJ of solar irradiation per square metre.
The illustration below indicates the average solar irradiation received in the British Isles per square metre.
Conveniently, solar panels receive the most sun from spring to autumn when our lifestyle is orientated for outdoor living. However some bright cold winter days can provide exceptional charging opportunities and the cool temperature helps the cells operate at best efficiency.
HOW DO SOLAR PANELS GENERATE ELECTRICITY?
Solar panel electricity systems, also known as solar photovoltaics (PV), capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic cells. These cells don't need direct sunlight to work – they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run appliances and lighting.
WHY HAVE SOLAR PANELS AND SOLAR LIGHTS BECOME SO POPULAR?
The key factors for the growth of solar as an alternative source of energy can be attributed to developments in the key components.
Both crystalline and monocrystalline solar cells have become more efficient and do not degrade to the extent of some other technologies. They are now able to provide years of production maintaining up to 80% of original output for 20 years.
The advent of a whole host of battery products from phones to tablets has led to exceptional changes in batteries requiring good power output and longevity of charge. Whilst lithium-ion, or Li-ion. Lithium-ion technology isn’t new; even the “polymer” part goes back to the 1970s. Most of the devices we use today that say “lithium-ion” are really talking about Li-ion polymer batteries.
- High energy density - potential for high capacities.
- Does not need prolonged priming when new. One regular charge is all that's needed.
- Relatively low self-discharge - self-discharge is less than half that of nickel-based batteries.
- Low Maintenance - no periodic discharge is needed; there is no memory.
- Specialty cells can provide very high current to applications such as power tools.
- Unaffected by temperature changes compared to other batteries
If you charge a Ni-Cd battery before it’s completely discharged, it will lose capacity to charge fully the next time… as if it remembers the smaller charge capacity and regards it as the new norm. Hence, Ni-Cd batteries have to be completely discharged before charging again, to retain their full lifetime between charges. This is a peculiarity of Ni-Cd batteries, not shared by Li-ions. In fact, your lithium-ion battery likes it better if you don’t discharge it all the way between charges. This makes it ideal for use in conjunction with a charge from a solar panel
We use Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) as they provide bright light and consume less electricity making them ideal for use with battery powered lighting.
These use almost 90% less energy than a traditional incandescent, making them the most energy-efficient type of lighting. LEDs are usually more expensive to buy, but should last up to 25 years. In the long term they are the cheapest option.
OLD STYLE BULBS ARE NOT AS EFFICIENT
Light Bulbs (General Lighting Service)
Old fashioned GLS or incandescent bulbs had a short life and illuminated in all directions (e.g. Up to the ceiling as opposed to the area where light is required). They required high current to operate and were not efficient use of power.
CFLs are cheaper and widely available in a range of sizes and outputs. Some older CFLs were slow to brighten but this has improved considerably in recent years. They are four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs– but not everyone likes the light they emit.
Light from a halogen bulb is similar to an incandescent in colour and quality, as both use a tungsten filament. There’s little difference between the two in the amount of energy used and halogens are significantly more expensive to run than other energy savers. With an expected life span of less than two years, a halogen bulb is unlikely to pay for itself before it fails.
WHAT ARE THE GUARANTEES AND EXPECTATIONS OF PERFORMANCE
(SEE TERMS & CONDITIONS FOR FULL DETAILS)
All our solar lights are supplied with a minimum 12 month limited warranty (from date of purchase) please retain a copy of your proof of purchase.
When installing solar lights ensure the solar panel is facing south and without shading for best performance.
Performance can vary according to light levels and available charging times according to location and application.
Batteries can be charged by turning off the automatic operation for several days.
All specifications are believed to be correct at time of publication but are subject to change and improvement.
Our warranty provides a guarantee of workmanship and quality of parts. It does not cover performance which can vary according to use, siting and weather conditions.