What features do I need to look for when choosing solar products for my outdoor?

There are a couple of features you should be aware of before purchasing outdoor solar equipment. In this post we provide the most relevant ones.

Feature 1 - Battery

This is the little and re-chargeable equipment that stores the electricity generated by the solar cells. Check out if the product has batteries included and what is the charging time and working time of the device. The working time will depend on several factors. Some batteries can last from 4 - 6 hours and a maximum of 10 – 12 hours. NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries and Li-ion (Lithium ion) batteries are often used. You can explore in the table below the pros and cons of each one.

Usually the batteries work for a maximum of 3-4 years (on average about 2 years). Check out in the project description if the battery can be replaced and if it can be ordered from the same manufacturer.

Feature 2 - Brightness / lumens output

The lumens of a light can be explained as how visually bright the light is. This output can vary considerably from light to light. Most solar panel lights have a lumens level of 1 to 30. The higher the number, the brighter the bulb. Roughly, about 15 to 20 lumens generate a soft light while for a higher value we can expect a brighter (and harsher) light. One important distinction we must highlight here is that watts and lumens measure two different things. Wattage measures the amount of electrical power the light bulb consumes. Lumens, on the other hand, measure the brightness regardless of how much power is needed. So, we advise you to take a closer look on lumens instead of wattage. It’s more accurate if you want to determine the product brightness.

Feature 3 - Lighting / Brightness Modes

Some outdoor solar lights have different brightness modes. This is very convenient for someone who plans to use the lights for multiple settings. If, for example, you´re having a dinner outdoor with a large group of friends, you might want lights that can have a stronger brightness level. Garden areas may require a lower level of brightness to give off ambient light, while pathways and swimming pools may require stronger brightness. Note that the brightness of the solar light depends always on the sunlight and the amount of daylight the equipment is exposed to, on the quality of the solar cells and the size of the LED bulb. Check out in the product description the different brightness/lighting modes available on the device.

Feature 4 - Lighting Range / Scope

For several solar lights you’ll be able to see in the product description the lighting scope (measured in square meters or square feet) of the equipment. Most standard lights may only shed light for a few m2 / sq.ft but others can go up to 30 m2 / 323 sq.ft. If illumination and security is your goal, then it is a good idea to place several solar lights close together or in strategic positions around your property. Check out in the project description the lighting range of the equipment.

Feature 5 - Automatic On/Off settings

The majority of solar lighting devices come with an automatic on/off switch. The battery charges throughout the day until the sun goes down. The device senses the light around and automatically turns ON when the sun goes down and OFF at dawn. Some devices have a manual switch and others have also both options. Check out in the project description the existence of automatic on/off settings.

Feature 6 - Waterproof level

Check out in the project description if the solar device has a protection standard. You’ll usually see an IP (or “Ingress Protection”) rating, a protection rating which represents a code that the manufacturer is supposed to specify so that the client knows if the product is protected against intrusions of solid-state particles or liquid particles. A product that has a rating of IP44 means that it is protected against solid objects that are bigger than 1mm and water splashing from all directions. If you see IP65 written on a product, this means it is fully dust tight and protected against solid objects. Plus it is protected against water jets projected by a nozzle (6.3mm) from any angle.

Feature 7 - Warranty

It is always a good idea to review the warranty coverage of the product. We’ll try to recommend you the best solar products available but sometimes issues occur and it is better to be covered by a warranty. Check out in the project description the existence of a warranty.

Illustrative Image | By aymane jdidi from Pixabay

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