Frequently Asked Questions
We have created a list of all the most popular questions that our customers have asked us over time.
- Lower energy costs with solar lighting- no electricity used.
- Save money on installation with solar lighting systems.
- No wiring is necessary for the lights to function.
- Installation is a quicker, easier and cheaper process.
- Less fixtures and fittings are required to sustain solar lighting.
- Maintenance requirements for solar lighting are also low due to lack of wiring and fewer fixtures.
- Lack of wiring means fixture location is completely flexible and optional.
- As a renewable resource, solar power is more dependable than electricity, oil or coal powered lighting.
- supply cannot be disrupted by power outages or other disruptions.
- Safer to use- there’s no risk of electrocution or lights getting too hot with solar lights.
The smaller decorative solar lights usually just work for a certain number of hours – usually 6 to 8 hours maximum- each night on a full charge.
For the more powerful security, pathway and area solar fixtures, there are usually a number of options built into each fixture.
- Work steady at full power- usually does not last for more than 6 to 8 hours
- Work steady at 50% power (or similar factor), and motion sensor activation will brighten light to 100% power
- 100% power Activation by motion sensor only.
In many security and area light fixtures, operation in the 2 reduced power modes can allow the fixture to be able to have back up power (without recharge) for 2 nights or longer.
- Solar panel (collector)
- Circuit board
- Bulb (usually LED)
- Photo cell (switches it off during the day)
On a commercial scale, Solar fixtures have started to become appropriate for street and parking lot lighting.
Outside of that, the principal applications are in
- Security lighting
- Spot and flood lighting
- Path lighting and markers
The decorative low output solar lights are still available but are used mainly for aesthetic purposes only in residential applications.
This is a type of solar fixture where the battery and solar panel are built into one compact unit. This is usually more aesthetically pleasing and easier to install than having a fixture with separate bulky solar panels. However, the All- In-One fixtures would not be as powerful as they have a limit on solar panel size.
Solar lights need direct sunlight to charge – the more sun received during the day, the longer they will run at night. Most solar lights need at least 6 full hours in the sun for a full charge, and they will usually run up to at least 8 hours on a good charge.
The larger the battery and the longer the charge in full sunlight, the longer the lights will work.
- Dependency on sunlight – affects operating time and brightness. Fixtures need to be positioned carefully to maximize effectiveness.
- Bad weather will affect performance
- Not usually as bright as normal mains- powered outdoor lighting
- May be considered aesthetically unattractive because of large solar panel which often needs to accompany the fixture
Except for very special cases, LED bulbs can be used in all applications. The principal concern would no longer be performance but bulb aesthetics and size – LED bulbs in particular tend to be longer than incandescent ones- but engineering is improving quite rapidly. Where there was doubt before that LED s could provide the full warm effect of an incandescent in special applications – restaurants etc, the new Filament-style LED bulbs are now the answer- mimicking incandescent bulb output in every aspect.
No, they do not. Insects see entirely different spectrums of light so most bugs cannot detect the light that LED’s emit.
Some LED bulbs are rated for outdoor use in an open fitting. Some are rated for outdoor use in a sealed fixture only. Some LED bulbs are rated for interior use only – and sometimes only in an open fixture. Check carefully at the time of purchase, although this is sometimes difficult to understand from the packaging. Use the rule that unless the bulb says “Weatherproof/IP 65 or IP67) assume that it cannot be used outside.
It is possible to get an LED in any color – or use a controller to create a huge mix of colors. For ‘white’ light, LEDs can give from a very warm golden to a very cold ‘blue’ white. You should check carefully to ensure that you are getting the color that you want. Most household applications require a fairly warm golden/yellow light.
There should be no problem with a magnetic transformer. AC Electronic transformers which were previously used with halogen MR 16 bulbs usually require a minimum of 15 or 20 watts to operate effectively. LED wattages are so small that they usually do not meet this minimum. A DC electronic transformer might be the answer or a very low output AC transformer. For those who still have MR 16 12v halogens, you might consider switching to 120v MR 16 LED bulbs and bypassing the transformer altogether.
- Are somewhat larger than usual incandescent (if space in your fixture is limited)
- Are not as aesthetically pleasing as LEDs (if bulb is visible)
- Have a life of 8,000 to 12,000 hours
- Have some mercury
- Are not dimmable
- Are less expensive than LED’s
- Energy savings are about 20% less than an LED
- Can be dimmable
- Are more aesthetically pleasing
- Have an expected life of 30,000 hours +
- Are smaller than CFL’s of the same wattage
- Are cool to the touch
- Are now only slightly more expensive than CFLs while saving 25% more energy
CFL bulbs are not dimmable and usually take up to 30 seconds to get to full illumination. You can purchase LED bulbs which can be dimmable. Check the label carefully. The main problem with dimming LEDs is with the dimmer itself. Many of the regular incandescent dimmers on the market may not dim LEDs smoothly or fully, often resulting in a jerky or flickering effect. Specialized LED dimmers (LUTRON etc) will usually solve this problem.
The light output of a bulb is measured in lumens. A typical 60w incandescent bulb delivers about 850 lumens. Lumens become important when you are trying to replace existing halogen and incandescent bulbs with energy saving ones. It is necessary to know the amount of lumens energy saving LED (or CFL) bulb delivers (usually indicated on the packaging) in order to choose the correct replacement for your incandescent.
|Compact fluorescent (CFL)||8,000-12,000 hours|
|LED||30,000 -60,000 hours|
It depends on the lumen output of the bulb that you are replacing. You should check the lumen output of the energy saver bulb, and make sure it matches the output from the incandescent/halogen bulb that it is replacing. Here is a quick comparison guide:
LED bulbs are about 40% more energy efficient than a CFL bulb, and up to 85% more efficient than incandescent or halogen.
It does affect CFL’s but not LED’s.
Incandescent and halogen bulbs light up immediately but compact fluorescent bulbs take up to 30 seconds to reach full illumination. LED bulbs light up immediately.
The light quality (colour and sharpness) of CFL and LED bulbs does vary. There are a number of options available. If you want a bulb that gives the same effect as incandescent, then you should make sure to buy a ‘warm white’ or ‘soft white’ bulb. Look on the packaging to find a color rating of somewhere between 2700k-3000k (which denotes a warm color). Where there was doubt before that LED s could provide the full warm effect of an incandescent in special applications – restaurants et6c, the new Filament LED bulbs are now the answer- mimicking incandescent bulbs in every aspect.
The terms can be used interchangeably but generally, spot lights output a much narrower beam of light than do flood lights. The light from a flood light is spread over a much wider area and looks much softer. A spot light is used when you need a very sharp narrow beam of light to highlight a particular area.