Solar lights absorb the sun’s energy during the day and store it in a battery that can generate light once darkness falls. Like solar panels used to generate electricity, solar lights use photovoltaic technology. They can be used for a variety of indoor and outdoor purposes, from lighting streets to illuminating homes and gardens, and are particularly useful in places and circumstances where it isn’t possible to connect to a central power grid.
How Solar Lighting Works
Solar lights use photovoltaic (PV) cells, which absorb the sun’s energy and create an electrical charge that moves through the panel.1 Wires from the solar cell connect to the battery, which converts and stores the power as chemical energy until it’s needed.
The battery later uses that energy to power an LED (light-emitting diode) bulb. The diode is a semiconductor that allows electrons to pass between its two points, creating electromagnetic energy in the form of light during hours of darkness.
LED technology generates light up to 90% more efficiently than incandescent and fluorescent lighting, making it ideal for solar lighting systems.2 Rather than burning out like a traditional light bulb, LED bulbs simply dim over time. But their typical lifetime is far longer than a traditional bulb: tens of thousands of hours versus the 1,000 hours of an incandescent bulb, or 3,000 hours for a halogen bulb.
Types and Uses of Solar Lighting
Solar lighting sales have taken off in response to the global demand for less carbon-intensive energy sources and as a strategy for increasing energy resilience in the face of extreme weather and other natural disasters that leave centralized power systems vulnerable.3 It is also helping to meet the energy needs of developing regions where connection to a centralized electricity grid is difficult or impossible.
Solar lighting provides cheap, attractive, low-maintenance illumination for homes, businesses, and public infrastructure while reducing the environmental impact. When we think about solar lighting, there are two broad categories: indoor and outdoor solar lights. Here are a few of the many solar lighting uses.
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