Before rushing out to the nearest garden center or lighting store to add a set of cheap solar lights to your household it is best to consider the many options you have with these items, to avoid being let down by getting a set that doesn’t do what you had hoped.
It is important to bear in mind the limitations with these lights and not believe all the hype and buzz surrounding them – though of course there are very good reasons for being excited by the possibilities that solar lighting brings to the home, as you will see later.
Firstly though, consider what you will be asking your purchase to do. If you are buying a couple of small, cheap rock lights and are expecting to place them on your deck to light up the whole area when you have a party then you will be disappointed. They are designed only as accent lighting to be placed in a flower bed or light up around a hazard like a pond for a few hours during the evening. They normally have a small solar panel, a small battery and an LED bulb that processes the sun’s energy, stores it and releases it – as most solar outdoor lights do – but they are certainly not designed to produce strong lighting throughout early and late evening and into the night.
In this situation you will probably need to “up” your budget and go for some post lights and deck lights that you will install at regular intervals around your decking, providing both mood lighting and safety lighting that will illuminate step areas or other hazards. In other situations that require task or spot lighting the cost per unit will be higher still as you will need a light that uses a larger panel and multiple LEDs to provide adequate illumination. So cheap is not always the way to go with these lights.
Now we have covered the main downside that people experience with outdoor solar lights, let’s take a quick look at all the advantages of these units over electrical lights, before giving you a couple of tips how you can save money when purchasing them.
Firstly they use zero electricity so any cost differential between the outlay for these lights and that for electric lights is paid back over time. This makes them more environmentally friendly than electric lights, of course. Also, they have virtually no maintenance required to keep them running – there’s not even an on/off switch in most cases and they will turn themselves on as the light starts to fail.
Being easy to install – pathway lights are often pre-mounted on spikes that are driven into the ground – also means that if you buy a large set of units it doesn’t involve much work to get them all set up, unlike electric lighting which involves a qualified electrician to wire everything up and hide the cabling.
Buying solar lights in sets is a good money-saving idea. Some manufacturers like Westinghouse will package their lights in 6, 12 or even 24 lights so that you can choose a set large enough for the job at hand and place at regular intervals around your property – doing this will mean that the work you ask of each light will be less, as it will be spread out amongst more units. They are usually quite attractive designs too, so having lots of lights adds to the overall ambiance of your garden, yard or driveway area.
Of course another way to save some money when buying solar landscape lights is to get them online. Garden centers are a good idea to get a look and feel for how they work, but you will find cheaper prices available at the many specialist solar lighting web sites. Choosing one with a variety of brands, images, clear specifications and product information, a good ordering process, secure payment and a proven delivery process will give you the peace of mind to order online.