Solar Motion Lights: Do the Bulbs Ever Expire?

Solar Motion Lights: Do the Bulbs Ever Expire?

November 6, 2020

 Solar motion lights are a stellar investment that offer long-term beauty and value to every home. 

Added motion sensors create an extra layer of security and enjoyment by providing light precisely when you need it. Beyond power savings and easy installation, solar lights are also great for the environment.

Solar lights are particularly attractive to homeowners because they operate independently which allows for quick and flexible installation. Most solar lighting lamps can be installed in a single afternoon on practically any part of your house or yard. Their power comes from the sun so you don’t have to worry about any added strain to your electric grid. 

If you’re willing to make the investment into solar motion lights, you probably want to know if they’re long-lasting and worth your money. The good news is yes! With the right amount of care and maintenance, most solar motion lights are built to last. 

Let’s explore some common questions and care tips for keeping your solar lights shining bright.

What Are the Major Components? 

In order to gauge the lifespan of solar motion lights, we need to understand their individual components and how they work together. Each component can have a different lifespan, so keep this in mind when choosing your lights. A worthy lighting product will combine each of these components properly to keep the light shining as long as possible.

Light Bulbs: Are LED’s Better?

The primary component of a quality solar light is the bulb. If you’ve made the investment into solar lighting, you want to be sure that you’re choosing the right bulb for the job. Try to avoid traditional incandescent bulbs in solar light products because of their short lifespans and inefficient energy use. Additionally, traditional bulbs generally can’t handle the rougher, outdoor conditions where solar lights thrive.

LED lamps are the best bulb choice for solar lights due to their longevity and durability. The average outdoor LED bulb has a lifespan of up to 25,000 hours with the right care. LED’s also shine as solar-powered products because their energy efficiency provides extended hours of light with the average daytime solar charge. 

Another major benefit of LED’s is their cooler operating temperature which prevents the bulbs from burning out. This cooler operation also protects the surrounding lamp components and exterior casing from heat deterioration. On top of this, multiple LED bulbs are generally arrayed in a wider configuration that ensures the failure of a single bulb doesn’t affect the rest of the light.

On the whole, LED bulbs are the strongest component in any quality solar light. LED’s are compact components that can withstand the elements and have a lifespan that outpaces any other bulb type. Choosing a lamp with LED bulbs is the best investment because you can be confident in their lifetime, continuous operation without any drop in light quality.

Batteries: Is Battery Type Important?

The next major component of solar lights is the rechargeable battery. Batteries in solar lights are particularly important because they operate on a continuous charge cycle. This repeating charge process can wear out the battery faster than any other component, so it’s important to choose the right type when buying.

There are two major types of batteries used in most solar lights: Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion). While both have their benefits and drawbacks, Li-Ion batteries are better for solar lighting because they charge at a more rapid rate than NiMH batteries. Additionally, Li-Ion batteries have a lower “memory effect” from constant recharging which can reduce a battery’s capacity as time passes. 

Choosing an Li-Ion battery equipped solar light will ensure a longer lifespan as the charge quality won’t decline. Often, when consumers see their lighting products begin to fade, low-quality batteries are likely to blame. Lithium batteries keep solar lights in operation longer than NiMH without the hassle of a reduction in charge capacity.

Solar Panels: Are they Durable?

The final major component of a solar light is, of course, the solar panel. Given that solar lights are outdoor products, the solar panels need to be rugged in order to survive the elements. When selecting your lights, make sure you’re choosing those with an epoxy-resin encapsulated panel. This coating ensures your solar panels are waterproof and capable of withstanding rain and moisture.

Epoxy-resin covered solar panels maintain tight seals in all weather, but it is important to make sure nothing covers the surface of the panels in order to maintain proper battery charging. Winter weather such as snow and ice do require regular clearing of your solar panels as the low operating temperature of the LED’s won’t melt either away. 

Motion Sensing Lights

Another feature that can ensure the longevity of your investment into solar lights is motion sensing. Added infrared photosensors in your outdoor lamps ensure that your bulbs and battery are only in heavy operation when you want them to be. This will extend the lifetime of your products and will keep the individual components in better long term condition.

Motion sensing can also create a safer home environment by providing momentary extra light when needed. Some lights even maintain a lower ambient light at all times with bursts of brighter light upon sensing motion. Whether you’re going to your car at night, or illuminating your home entrances, motion sensors ensure the area in question will be well lit at the right time. 

How Do I Extend the Life of My Solar Lights?

Clean the Solar Panels

While the rain will naturally clean the solar panels, dirt and dust accumulation on solar lights can reduce direct sunlight contact with the panels. This can reduce charging efficiency which can prevent your lights from receiving enough power needed to operate at full capacity. If you notice your lights operating less brightly than normal, you may just simply need to clean the panels.

Cleaning the panels is as simple as wiping them gently with a damp microfiber cloth. Always use water: be careful not to damage the epoxy coating with any harsh chemicals or solvents. 

Additionally, use soft, microfiber cloths to avoid scratching the surface of the panels which can reduce their efficiency. Solar lights are built for rugged, outdoor settings, but like any other lamp, upkeep is still important to keep them operating at their best.

Place in Natural Light

One of the prime suspects when it comes to solar light failure has nothing to do with the product itself, but rather, where it is placed. Artificial light (such as a porch or streetlight) won’t charge solar lights, so make your lights are positioned to receive the maximum direct sunlight possible.

Common things that obstruct solar panels’ access to sunlight include:

  • Roof overhangs (often from being installed too close to roofs)
  • Foliage (bushes, trees, and plants that overshadow the lamp)
  • Improper Angles (when the panels are positioned at an angle that prevents direct contact with sunlight) 

Conclusion

Solar motion lighting products are more advanced and well-built than ever. If you’re willing to make the investment into solar lights for your home, buying lamps with the best internal components will ensure you get your money’s worth over the lifespan of the light. 

Whether you’re looking to increase the ambience of your home or add an extra measure of security, solar motion lights are an affordable, easy-to-install way to go. 

Sources:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2013/12/27/incandescent-light-bulbs-phaseout-leds/4217009/

https://auto.howstuffworks.com/lithium-ion-batteries-improve-hybrids1

https://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-safety/question238.htm