High-power outdoor solar lights can produce up to 24,000 lumens or more. However, the upper range for the typical garden solar light is about 1,400 lumens. This is comparable to the typical 100-watt incandescent light bulb. Small solar lights tend to only produce 15 to 20 lumens.
While you can get a super-bright outdoor solar light, the brightest light is not always the best. 50 to 200 lumens can adequately illuminate a garden or walkway at night.
You should also read: What Are The Best Outdoor Solar Lights?
How Do Outdoor Solar Lights Work?
Most solar lights include a plastic or metal enclosure containing LED bulbs. A solar panel is attached to the top of the light. A rechargeable battery is included in the enclosure or behind the solar panel.
The solar panel contains cells that generate electrical charges from exposure to UV light (not direct sunlight). The electrical charge is stored as energy in the rechargeable battery. The energy is then used to power the solar LED light.
How to Choose the Right Outdoor Solar Lights
When shopping for outdoor solar lights, think about where you plan on placing them and type of illumination you want. If you plan on solar lighting a walkway, consider using a row of small lights.
If you want to highlight your garden area, two or three medium-sized lights may work better. You can also find larger options to light up your entire yard.
Other details to consider include the lumens, battery life, color temperature, brightness settings, weather resistance, and the type of light.
Types of Solar Outdoor Lights
Most solar outdoor lights belong to one of the following groups:
- Pathway light (i.e string lights or fairy lights)
- Spotlight (i.e wall light or accent light)
- Floodlight (i.e security light)
A solar path light and solar spotlight typically include a stake for staking the light into the ground. Path lights cast a wide arc of light, helping to illuminate a wider area.
Spotlights direct the light toward objects. They are often placed facing the feature that you want to illuminate, such as your garden.
Floodlights are often installed on exterior walls or fences. They are positioned higher off the ground and flood the area with light.
What are Lumens?
Lumens measure the light output of a light bulb. People often pay attention to the wattage of a light bulb, but the lumens are more important. The wattage of a light bulb measures the amount of energy needed to power it. A 100-watt light bulb consumes 100 watts of energy.
The wattage was a good indication of the brightness of an incandescent light bulb. A 100W incandescent light bulb is always brighter compared to an 80W light bulb. However, LED lights, CFL lights, and halogen lights have different energy demands.
Separate 20W LED lights may output different amounts of light, which is why lumens are more important. Many of the smaller solar garden lights output 15 to 20 lumens. A row of these small lights can light a small area, such as a walkway. Some of the brightest solar lights can produce 1000 to 1400 lumens.
Here is a quick comparison of wattage to lumens:
- 100W incandescent light: 1600 lumens
- 75W light: 1100 lumens
- 60W light: 800 lumens
- 40W light: 450 lumens
Brighter solar panel outdoor lights are available. The brightest lights are often used for security and may include a motion sensor. A 24,000 lumens flood light can light an entire baseball diamond.
Quick Tip: The solar panel and the light require occasional cleaning. Dirt and grime can dim the light and block the solar panel from charging efficiently. Wipe the surfaces clean if you notice any dirt.
What’s the Battery Life of a Solar Powered Outdoor Light?
Solar panel lights need a battery to store the energy captured by the solar panel. The battery stores energy to power the light through the night.
If you want the lights to stay on all night, look for solar lights with an estimated battery life of eight hours or more.
How is Solar Light Color Temperature Measured?
The color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K). It measures the color of the light emitted from an object. Lights produce color temperatures between 2000K and 7000K.
A light with a color temperature of 2000K produces a warm glow, comparable to the glow from a fire.
4000K produces a cool white color. This is the recommended color temperature for most outdoor lights, as it is not too warm or cool. A sunny day has a color temperature of about 5000K.
Cooler colors tend to stand out at night, as most porch lights use warmer bulbs. It may be a little distracting compared to a slightly warmer bulb.
How do you Adjust Brightness Settings on Solar Lights?
Some solar panel lights include brightness settings. You can lower the temperature to suit your preferences and conserve battery power.
Along with brightness settings, some solar lights allow you to adjust the color temperature or the color of the LEDs. You can adjust the color to suit different moods and occasions.
Is Outdoor Solar Lighting Weather Resistant?
Almost all solar outdoor lights are designed to protect from rain and severe weather. Most lights include a weather resistance rating of IP65. An IP65 rating protects against low-pressure water sprays from any direction.
The type of material may also impact the durability of the light. The typical solar panel light is made with plastic parts. Plastic lights may deteriorate faster compared to lights with metal enclosures.