How Does Solar Power Work?
When the light from the sun hits a Solar Panel, a certain portion of the Photons (light) are captured by a special material in the panel called a Super Conductor. When a Photon strikes the Super Conductor an electron is knocked loose. This electron, along with the many others which are knocked loose, are what makes electricity. So all that is needed then, is to channel these electrons down some conductive tracks, like copper, into a battery. This battery is charged by this process and then goes on to power the attached device.
How Do Solar Lights Work?
Solar Lights use the power stored in the included batteries to produce light, much in the same way a regular battery powered light would. The only difference is that these batteries will be regularly charged by the sunlight, through a Solar Panel, thus eliminating the need for you to charge them and greatly reducing the need to replace them.
Typically, our lights use LEDs instead of regular bulbs, as these draw very little power and essentially never need to be replaced. They also provide an extremely bright and powerful light source, so they are idseal in Solar Lighting solutions.
A light sensor in the lights detects when the ambient light level drops and automatically switches on the lights, so you don’t need to worry about turning them on and off every evening. They do it for you. In most Solar Lights there is an additional On/Off switch, which you can use to switch the lights off permanently and override the automatic light sensor.
Why Do Solar Lights Have Batteries?
Having batteries installed in the lights allows the Solar Light to store the charge collected from the sun during the day, to save for the night time when you need light. Without the batteries, there would be no way to store the charge and you would end up with a light which shines only during the day when it is receiving direct sunlight and switches off at night, which isn’t very helpful.
Why Do Some Solar Lights Work Better Than Others?
Imagine rain falling into two buckets placed side by side. The bigger bucket will collect more water than a smaller one after the same length of time in the rain.
With Solar Power, the Solar Panel and batteries represent the bucket. The panel collects the light, converts it to power and stores it in the batteries. Typically the bigger the solar panel, the more light is collected.
Matching higher capacity batteries with a more powerful solar panel has two main benefits.
- More sunlight, and therefore, power is collected during the day.
- More excess power collected can be stored in the batteries for use that evening. If there is already a charge in the batteries, then it won’t start each day from flat, giving the light a head start on a cloudy day in terms of performance in the evening.
Other factors can have an effect such as:
- Efficiency of the panel
- Type of solar panel
- Capacity of the batteries
- Type of batteries used
How Can I Get The Best From My Solar Lights?
With the right product and a little planning, solar power can, and does, work all year round in the UK. Naturally the performance in the Winter will be reduced, when compared to the performance in the Summer, but it will still give you great performance.
A poorly positioned panel can often be make or break when it comes to the performance of your Solar Light. It is critical to make sure you position and angle the Solar Panel correctly. If you are experiencing issues, this would be the first thing to check.
Put simply: The fewer obstructions between the sun and your solar panel the better your unit will perform. You need direct line of sight, from your Solar Panel to the sun, with no obstructions, or as few as possible.
Your solar panel should be:
- South facing or as near as possible, to catch the sun all day long.
- Outside of any glass windows and wiped clean from time to time, to ensure all the sunlight is captured
- Free from any shadows. This is especially important between 10am – 2pm
- Angled as directly at the sun as possible. Please note that this angle changes throughout the year due to the height of the sun. See the image below as a guide
If you have any further questions or other FAQ for Solar Power, please dont hesitate to Contact Us and we will be happy to advise.