Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Solar Lighting: More than Just Roof Panels
Solar lighting is a term that has been in the lexicon of eco-friendly energy supporters for years, but in the past it has been dismissed by many as being too expensive and unreliable. However, we’ve seen many advances over the past few years that have enabled solar lighting to become a viable alternative for more and more people. Even so, most of us do not have the time, money, or wherewithal to install solar roof panels. But solar energy is now a readily available, inexpensive, and practical option for folks who are looking to improve their home lighting scheme. So we’ll go over how use solar energy to help power your outdoor lighting setup.
Today there are hundreds of solar lights out there, and a number of major lighting manufacturers utilize the sun’s power. Most of these products are pathway lighting, but recently we’re seeing lanterns, post mounts, and even flood lights that run solely on solar power. This is in large part thanks to technological advances in the production of the photovoltaic cell battery, which is responsible for storing the sun’s energy into usable energy. For a long time, most of these batteries were not powerful enough to be able to store enough energy to provide lighting at night, or if they were then the batteries were too unwieldy and expensive to be able to use for residential lighting. However, changes the chemical makeup of the battery’s semiconductor has enabled the production of smaller batteries that are able to store and release enough energy to provide adequate night lighting. While these batteries are not powerful enough to provide home electricity, their size and inexpensiveness made them ideal for outdoor pathway lighting.
This in turn helped spur a trend among homeowners and landscapers beginning using path lighting, post lanterns, and other forms of outdoor lighting to enhance the appearance of the yard space while at the same time providing a sense of security for the house’s occupants. Outdoor yard lighting for a number of years fell a bit out of vogue, as many viewed it as too expensive and wasteful. But solar technology has enabled the average home resident to purchase additional lighting without having to worry about their impact on the environment, not to mention their electricity bills!
This goes to show that sometimes it is best to think small when it comes to energy saving. While outdoor solar lights might not save as much energy per capita as roof panels, their availability has made them a feasible and eco-friendly option for all homeowners.