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Community and Q&A

Kinda different quesiton-are solar lantern/sconce lights “there yet”?

Ryan_SLC | Posted in General Questions on

Thank you so much for all the green and builder tips on the addition.

A thought popped into my head that couldn’t be more green related.

I’d like to add lights on the exterior wall of my garage door. While I could wire it up it accord to me that solar is the energy I want, but it eliminates the need for a jbox in my brick.

Any opinions? Are solar wall lights there yet to be indistinguishable from hardwired?

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  1. WilliamLi | | #1

    There are 3 problems with most of the solar light fixtures on the market today:

    1. Fixed, usually suboptimal solar panel placement.
    Often, they’ll be integrated into the top of the light fixture, flat to ground, which is generally about 30-40 deg away from direct for most parts of the world other than equatorial regions. If the fixture is on the south side in the northern hemisphere, it’s ok. If the fixture is on the other side, not so good. Only a minority of fixtures have a separate panel. Most don’t as doing so both increases cost of manufacture as well as detracts from the “no wiring work” use case for these solar lights.

    2. Limited storage.
    Light fixtures, whether of the garden or coach light type, have limited space for batteries. This means there’s a hard calculus of light level vs continuous time on. ie, you trade one off for the other, and there’s a hard limit on the product if the two.

    3. Exposure of electronic elements
    Solar fixtures generally have more circuitry, including charge regulation, you wouldn’t find in even an LED bulb, let alone something simpler. This circuitry plus the battery needs to be exposed to the harsh outdoors. Even inside a sealed IP-whatever enclosure, you still have temperature extremes to contend with which are not kind to electronics.

    Overall, Solar lights have the deck stacked against them in terms of longevity, cost, and brightness. There are some overhead lamps which look like they might be ok, but they’re all definitely $$$ or $$$$.

    1. Ryan_SLC | | #2


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