One of the best ways to improve the appearance of the exterior of your home is to add some outdoor lighting. Granted, no number of lights will do much for you during the daytime, but at night? A few well placed lights will dramatically improve the drive-by and walk-up look of your home, as well as the ambiance of your back yard. If you have a front walkway or a garden path, though, keeping them lit is more than a matter of aesthetics. Especially if your home sees any kind of outdoor traffic after hours, having adequate path lighting is crucial to keeping your home and your guests safe. But between startup costs, installation, and maintenance, conventional path lighting can be prohibitively expensive. The solution: use solar lights instead.
Conventional landscape lighting requires what all lights do: a source of power. The problem is that the power they crave doesn’t come standard in most back yards. That means that running the power traditional path lights need to where you want to put them means a lot of digging, wiring, possibly a transformer, and probably professional installation. Add to that a hefty increase in your monthly utilities, and it’s not hard to understand why someone might pass on this project. But solar path lights address and cure all of those problems by powering themselves naturally. The small square panel on top of this Homebrite Landscape Light makes it self-powering, easy to move, and totally free of any but the upfront cost.
Unlike conventional path lights, solar powered ones can be installed as easily as sticking them in the ground. Because the solar panels are built in, each unit is entirely self contained. These Three Tier Pewter Lights, for example, can be spaced as far apart or as close together as you want without worrying about wiring – and the last one in the line will be just as bright as the first, whereas traditional lighting loses power as the length and load of an electrical circuit increases.
Aside from the small, round or rectangular solar panel on the tops of the lights – which on these decorative Tulip Lights aren’t even visible at a glance – they look exactly like conventional ones. Despite their similar appearance, solar path lights are much, much more convenient, and not just for the decreased utility cost. While with traditional electric path lighting, once you’ve laid them, they basically have to stay put (unless you want to call back your contractor and dig up your lawn again), solar path lights can be installed, repositioned, and removed at any time without any complications.
The best part, though, is that you don’t have to sacrifice style for convenience. Outdoor solar lighting ranges from the practical to the whimsical and everything in between: everything you’d expect to find from a selection of traditional lights. From a distance, this Mission Style Lamp mimics an old fashioned flame lantern, converting sunlight to a beautiful faux flame for up to eight hours. Better still, solar powered path lights tend to be at least equal in price or even less expensive than their traditional counterparts, so not only are you saving on the installation and the maintenance cost, but your startup expenses might be lower, too.
Not only will you not be sacrificing style by opting for solar rather than traditional path lighting, but you won’t be sacrificing quality of the light, either. Almost all solar path lights use ultra-energy-efficient LED lights, which use very little power but produce a very bright light. If you’re especially concerned about brightness, check your prospective light for the number of LED lights. This Kettle Lantern uses two per lantern, and the more you have, the brighter the overall light will be.
In fact, if you have an especially long line of lights, solar is probably the better option. As I mentioned before, the more lights you have on a traditional line, the dimmer they all are, especially toward the end of the line, because the power has to be distributed between them. Because solar panels work independently, even if you have a long line of them, as with these Smart Solar Sentinella, they’ll all produce a consistent amount of light, still without consuming any additional power.
Solar powered landscape lights also work even in areas with relatively low light, and because they’re photosensitive, the lights turn on automatically at dusk, and turn off at dawn (assuming they still have power when the sun comes up). The only real drawback is that they might not always make it that long – most lights will state their typical duration (usually about 8 hours), which is more than enough to last you through the evening, but maybe not all the way through the night. Also, all the lights need to be placed in at least partial sunlight to charge properly. If you do have a longish row of lights, like these Scenery Solutions, that get varying degrees of sunlight, they might turn off at slightly different times as they power down – though probably long after you and your guests head to bed.
Ultimately, if the biggest thing holding you back from having a safe, well-lit path either in your back yard or leading up to your house (or both!) is the cost of installation and maintenance, solar landscape lighting is an amazing, eco-friendly, cost-effective alternative for your lawn or garden- and, especially if you don’t have an existing setup you’d have to dig up, I’d say a better option all around!
Why are you looking into solar lighting for your back yard? Are you more interested in the cost effectiveness, or have you been scouting ways to green your home? If you have an existing electrical landscape or path lighting system, would you consider switching? Let me know in the comments!