You know that porch of yours needs some extra lighting. Unfortunately wiring for electric outdoor light can be quite expensive (and sometimes not feasible at all).
When this happens a solar-powered light fixture might do the trick.
There are lots of advantages (and a few disadvantages) to adding a solar-powered light fixture to your porch. We will explain some of the options you have available and a few of the decisions you will have to make before adding another porch light.
Why Go Solar?
Solar-powered light fixtures have three main benefits. They’re better for the environment, easier on your electric bill, and don’t require any electrical infrastructure to install.
As great as outdoor lighting can be, it is just yet another expense to add to that ever-growing electric bill. Keep this fact in mind when you look at the pricing of solar-powered light, you will only have to pay for it one time, and the sun will handle the rest.
Advantages of a Solar Powered Light Fixture
In addition to the fact that your solar-powered porch light can help save money and the world, there are other factors to consider. Here are a few other advantages:
- No electrical work to get this project done and no need to hire an electrician. Hang your fixture in a spot where it is exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day, and the rest will take care of itself.
- The solar light should stay on all night long, something that could be costly with electrically powered light.
- Solar lights are low maintenance because their design is so simple. You will likely not have very many repairs or maintenance to these lights, and they should last for many years. Usually, about once a week, you will want to wipe off the panels of your solar light to make sure that it is clean and can absorb all of the energy it needs.
Disadvantages of a Solar Powered Light Fixture
As I said above, there are also a few disadvantages. While none of these are deal-breaks, they must be considered when making your purchase decision.
- The initial cost of a solar-powered outdoor porch light fixture will likely be higher than that of a similar electric fixture. However, remember that you won’t be adding anything to your electric bill when you use a solar-powered light.
- Reliance on weather is another disadvantage of a solar-powered light. The batteries inside a solar-powered light are dependent on the sun. If you go through a bad stretch of weather with very little sunlight, your lights will not work as well.
- Although this is not a real disadvantage if the area that you are looking to place your porch light is under an overhang, you may struggle with it getting enough light to be effective.
Types of Solar Powered Light Fixtures
The most common type of solar porch light is a wall mount. This can be placed next to a door and light up an entrance way to provide light for both homeowners and guests. These types of lights come in a variety of styles and designs.
Another type of porch light would be a spotlight; this would be much brighter and direct an intense stream of light onto one specific area. Solar-powered spotlights can be mounted on a wall or placed on the ground as well.
Solar-powered string lights also exist, although they’re less popular than their plugged-in cousins (subsequently, we wrote an article about how to hang outdoor string lights without nails)
If you are mostly concerned with lighting the steps and pathways of your porch, then you may want to look into a bollard type solar porch light. These are shorter units that you place in the ground, and you can line them on a walkway.
Consider the Quality
Remember that many of the solar lights on the market are designed for a decorative purpose. These types of decorative lights give off a small amount of light for a few hours after dusk, sometimes extending into the night.
Porch lights that illuminate the front of your house for the entire night definitely exist. However, you will need to invest in a higher-end solar product. Trust me, the investment is well worth it. Not to mention, the amount of energy savings quickly pays for the initial solar light investment.
Consider the Weather
A common question that comes up with any outdoor lighting is whether or not the lights are made to withstand weather conditions.
Solar-powered porch lights are intended for outdoor use and will have no issues handling rain and wind (if installed correctly). However, if you are expecting a significant storm, a bollard type light may need to be put indoors so it doesn’t blow away.
One thing to remember — if rain clouds are hiding the sun, it doesn’t matter how high-quality your solar light is. The battery can eventually run out.
Both the fixture and the LEDs in solar powered porch lights will last for many years .The only thing you will potentially need to replace from time to time is the batteries in the light fixture.
A few things that you can do to prolong the life of your light fixture include:
- Cleaning the panel every week or two with a damp cloth.
- Removing snow and ice off of the fixtures when there are storms.
- Switching the light to off when you are in a patch of rainy or cloudy weather. If you know the light does not have enough sun to charge it throughout the day, turn it off and give the batteries a quick rest.