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 Solar Questions

Is it expensive to use postable solar products?  How do I charge a solar light? Which kind of solar charger is best?  How do I store a solar light during the winter (snow climates)?   Will solar products work indoors? Read these and more... (and be sure to visit our solar blog, for more...)


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 Solar Questions from our blog    -    real questions from our customers...

Saturday, February 2, 2014

Q: Which type of solar charger is best?

    What is the best kind of solar charger, the kind that has a battery with it, or the type with just a solar panel?  Some friends and I are
      going hiking and I thought I'd take a solar charger to keep my phone batteries charged up..

A:  The solar charger manufacturer's have come out with two types of solar chargers (ones with a battery and one type without), your choice actually depends on how well you are at keeping charged. The solar battery type requires that you keep the battery up, either with periodic charges in your backyard, or actually going places to use the charger.

The solar charger without a solar battery requires no maintenance at all; except to lay the panel in direct sun.  The theory that you only charge in the sun, so why not just have a simple panel without a battery to keep up.  Both types of chargers wil charge your phone, music player, etc., it's just that one requres a little bit of work to remember to keep the battery up.   You can also go to our blogger solar blog to read other questions and responses about which solar chargers are best.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Q: How do I store a solar light?

    My question is how do we store a solar light? I have a utility light on my sailboat that has a small solar panel on the top. Now I want
      to store the boat for the winter and the light with it. Will this light work automatically, come next spring-summer?

A:  Like a lot of things there are two ways to store a solar light... the easiest way is just to remove the battery out of the unit, try to keep it charged up until the ice thaws and then replace it.  This depends if the battery is the type that can be charged by an over the shelf battery charger however, and this could be a drawback. There are specialized battery chargers out there, but is it worth an investment?

Another way is to try to keep the light charged during the winter.  Keep it in a window facing south and on that one or two days in the week that the sun is out, your light will get a little charge.  Taking a winter trip from Michigan to Florida? Take your solar light with you! Put it in the back window of your car... use it on your vacation. Some lights, depending on the manufacturer might even take an indoor charge.  -See this link on our educational model kits page re: charging with halogen lights.  You can also go to our blogger solar blog to read other questions and responses about storing a solar light.

FAQ on Solar Lights                                                              To Home Page

Questions and Answers about the care and operation of outdoor solar lights
used in the garden or along pathways - go to our Solar lights page

How does a solar light work?

Solar lights have a solar cell that converts sunlight into electricity. This electricity is then used to recharge the built-in batteries each day. A photo-cell sensor automatically turns on the solar light at night.

How long will solar lights run at night?

Solar lights need direct sunlight.  The more sunlight received during each day, the longer the light will operate that night. Since solar lights are powered entirely by the sunlight they receive each day, operating times will vary by specific location, daily weather conditions, and season. Many of our solar lights can run for up to 8-10 hours. As a general rule, solar lighting performs better during the summer months mainly because the longer and sunnier days enable a full charge to be achieved.  Adverse weather and short winter days do affect performance, as charge times are reduced in relation to hours of daylight and the strength of the light.

What are the advantages of solar lighting?

Solar lighting is safe and environmentally friendly since they do not require external power supply. There is no wiring required and installation is very easy. Suitable for use in remote areas and location near water.  And they run cost free, you do not have to worry about electricity bills.

Are solar lights weather-proof?

Solar lights are designed for all weather temperature.  If you have the glass type model and you live in an area where you get rain, snow, or wind storms during fall and winter season, it is best to store your lights during these months.  When storing them, make sure that the rocker switch is in the Off position to prevent the battery from draining. If you live in an area where rain is minimal, your solar lights can be outside all year round.

What type of battery is used on solar lights?

We use AA type rechargeable Nickel Cadmium (Nicad) batteries on most of our products. These batteries can be ordered directly from us or can be purchased from any home center or local electrical store such as as Radio Shack.

How long does the battery last?

Nickel Cadmium battery should last about 2 years with proper maintenance.  To maximize the life span of the battery, it is best to recharge the battery by turning off the solar unit periodically for 3 to 4 days to deep charge.

Do I need a charger for my batteries?

No. The batteries in your solar units are charged by the sunlight through the solar panel.

The batteries must be charged properly prior to first use. Turn the switch to the Off position and place the solar light in direct sunlight for 3 to 4 consecutive sunny days.

What type of bulb does my solar light use?

We utilize the latest L.E.D. (Light Emitting Diode) on our solar lights.

How long does the L.E.D. lasts?

You  should never have to replace the LED bulb in your solar lights. LEDs will run up to 100,000 hours. LEDs are not replaceable.

How bright are the lights?

The brightness of the LED solar lights are not indicated in terms of watts. The measurement of it is mcd (millicandelas candle light). Solar lighting has become much more reliable and efficient over the years. But it is especially important to note that this product is usually used for accent or decorative lighting.

If my solar lights run automatically, why does it have an on/off switch?

Many solar lights are equipped with a convenient on/off Rocker Switch for manual override and to eliminate performance inhibiting memory effect from the internal batteries.

What kind of maintenance does it require?

No maintenance is required except for an occasional wiping of the solar panel to keep it free of dust, dirt, debris, or snow to allow the batteries to charge properly for optimum performance.

What are the disadvantages of solar lighting?

Because solar lights are dependent on the amount of sunlight they get each day, the run time will be reduced during non-summer months. Adverse weather and short winter days do affect performance, as charge times are reduced in relation to hours of daylight and the strength of the light.

Solar lights may not seem as bright as other forms of outdoor landscape lighting and some people see this as a disadvantage. However, others welcome the softer, more subtle light output for which these fixtures are specifically designed.

How do I store my solar lights?

Some people store their solar lights indoors during winter months.  Make sure to put the switch in the off position and kept in a dark place. When positioning outdoors again, follow the start procedure in the owner's manual.

Light storage tips:    When you need to store this light... remember that this solar light needs sun to constantly reharge the internal rechargeable battery.  If you live in an area where it snows or is overcast longer than a week or so you willl need to take certain steps. However, it is recommended to keep the light on a window towards the souther exposure. This is ensures that the battery doesn't get completely drained. The only other option is to take the battery out and replace it when the weather is sunnier.   Email us for more info...

LOW VOLTAGE LIGHTING - as seen on our Solar Address Signs

We typically provide a 1-Year Limited Warranty with most products - unless it is a sale item (or no refund  noted in description.

How does low voltage light work?

Low voltage lights operate on 12-volt electrical current. The transformer reduces the 120-volt home current to a safe 12 volts.

As I connect the post with the ground stake, why do I need to twist the wire counter-clockwise eight times before connecting the two together?

Twisting the wire counter-clockwise ensures there won't be any shortage of the wiring because it will avoid stripping of the wire from the post and the ground stake.

My transformer does not have an "on/off" switch.

The transformer has a built-in photo sensor that automatically turns your lights on at dusk (night time) and turns off at day light.

Can I use an extension cord from the outlet to the transformer?

For safety reasons, we do not recommend the use of an extension cord. However, you may use a higher gauge of wire than the transformer.

How many lights can my transformer accommodate?

You may use up to nine (9) lights with 10-watt halogen bulb per light. Our transformer has a 90-watt maximum capacity.

We don't recommend it. If you try to use a different transformer make sure that it has the right electrical specifications (voltage, amp, watt, etc.),   and can accommodate the wattage of the lights. Always check with a qualified electrician before using a different transformer than the one provided.

Can I use a different bulb wattage on the same cable run?

Yes, you can mix different wattage on the same cable provided that the total wattage of the whole run will not exceed the total wattage output of the transformer.


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