Solar lighting is a great way to add interest and dimension — not to mention safety — to your nighttime landscape. Learn how to complete this quick weekend project now!
How Does Solar Lighting Work?
Solar lighting is a great, cost-effective way to enhance the look of your landscape. Solar lights get their energy from the sun and don’t require electricity to operate. Photovoltaic cells absorb sunlight to charge the batteries, which then light the bulb at night. Because solar lighting is powered by the sun, the sensor must be placed in an area that receives full sun — ideally eight or more hours per day.
Solar lighting is really easy to install and can operate 8 to 10 hours a night if they get enough light during the day.
Types of Solar Lighting for Your Landscape
There are several different kinds of solar lighting that you can use for your landscaping.
Rope lighting is a great way to create accent lighting in your landscape. Use it to illuminate the edge of a pathway, walkway or your garden edging. Most rope solar lighting will automatically come on dusk when the solar panel charges in 6-8 hours of daylight. There are several colors to choose from; from warm to cool white, and even green, blue, pink, orange, etc.! The sky is the limit!
Solar spotlights are the brightest solar lighting available, and the best ones can provide light that’s roughly equivalent to a 40-watt incandescent bulb. That is still not as bright as a typical electrical outdoor spotlight, so you may want to double or triple up in areas where you want bright, direct light. When you choose your spot light, look for more LEDs and for reflective qualities of the light’s cover. You can buy solar spotlights that sense motion, which are great to use near doors and in the driveway. There are also solar spotlights that will automatically turn on at dusk. These are great near your entryway or for the garden, with the beam of light directed at a tree or another landscape feature.
Solar pathway lights are a great way to add style and safety to your walkway. You can run the lighting every few feet along the path to create lighting along the edge of your walk or landscape, or even just to highlight areas of your gardens. Pathway lights can be flush with the ground, or can be purchased on stakes so that the lights dangle several inches to a foot or so above the ground. There are many designs to choose from, so your solar lighting can fit the style of your home or decor.
Some Final Thoughts on Solar Lighting
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing solar lighting. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Wattage of the bulb: make sure that the wattage of the solar lighting you select is bright enough to give off the amount of light you need in the area.
- Temperature of light: Are you looking for a warm or cool light? Direct or indirect light?
- Stake Material (for pathway lighting): Having to drive the stake into the ground is an issue I’ve seen with a lot of reviews for pathway lighting. If the design you choose is heavy and metal, the stake material should be able to hold the weight of the solar lighting so that it doesn’t lean over time or in a storm.
- Light Surround Material: You get what you pay for. Glass will hold up better than plastic for the lamp, but obviously will be more expensive.
- Decor and Home Style: The style of your home and the decor pieces you already have may play a role in what type of solar lighting you choose. Keep this in mind before you purchase your light.
Reading the product reviews online is sometimes helpful, taking a walk around your neighborhood, or visiting your local hardware store and talking to a sales associate are all great ways to find the perfect solar lighting to fit your unique situation! If you aren’t sure what to do, my advice is start small and buy two solar spotlights or a set of pathway lights and see what you think before making a large investment. It’s an easy project that can really motivate you to light up your landscape.