Some Solar Lights Can Not Be Fixed and Overall Are a Waste of Money

Crappy solar light with bad light sensor that makes it work during daylight only.

Some Solar Lights Can’t be Saved and You Shouldn’t Waste Your Money on Them in the First Place

We just did a post about a solar lantern that wasn’t working as it should be. And, there was a quick fix to that problem and the lantern works as great as ever.

Unfortunately, not all solar lights can be saved. Even more unfortunately, there are a lot of lights that frankly are a waste of money.  We can’t say it often enough: with solar lighting, you usually get what you pay for.

It’s kind of hard to see in this picture, but even though it’s daytime, this solar light is on. In fact, the only time it works is in the daytime.

Even though we bought six of these for around $15 buck, it really was a waste of money.  This light (and 4 of the other ones we bought with it) can’t be fixed. Continue reading

Quick Fix for a Common Performance Problem with Solar Lights

Even the Best Solar Lights Get Tired

Even the Best Solar Lights Get Tired

Even the best solar lights can get tired.

Our Plantern (half planter, half solar lantern) was a bright and attractive addition to our deck this summer.

It added just enough light to sit at the table and chat comfortably by, and was bright enough that it usually kept the motion activated spotlights and floodlights from turning on. (Which sometimes can be annoying if you’re out for some fresh air before you go to bed.)

But, the other day I  noticed the light quality was GAWD-awful. Luckily, it was an easy fix.  Find out what happened and how easy it was to get it back to it’s normal self.

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Retrofits with Solar Lights: When You Need Electricians or Plumbers

retrofit_wall_mounted_lamp

Lamp on Left is Ugly, Worn Out, Electric and a Great Candidate for a Solar Retrofit

One of the major advantages of solar lights is that most are incredibly easy to install, a simple DIY weekend project.

And, selecting solar lights over electrical fixtures means cost savings on far more than utility bills. Solar lighting means cost savings since:

  • No Electricians to install power to remote/unlit areas
  • No expenses to repair landscaping or hardscape damaged by laying electrical lines
  • Rarely are any permits or inspections required.

But, there are rare exceptions when you should consult or hire a qualified electrician, plumber or even a lighting engineer.

The most common reason: when you retrofit an existing gas or electrical lamp with an eco-friendly and more energy efficient solar light.  Find out what you really should should have a licensed professional take care of and why. Continue reading

Video – Curious About Solar Spot Lights?

Solar_Spotlight_Video_from SolarFlairLighting

Check it out on YouTube!

We’re adding more videos every day.  If you’re wondering how solar spotlights can help you meet your landscape lighting needs, this video has some great tips.

Spotlights serve functional needs, like brightening doorways and can also add dimension to your gardens by varied uses of lights. The benefits of flexible spotlights, what to look for when buying are briefly reviewed in this video.

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Solar Street Lights: Bright Solutions for Public and Private Sectors

Solar Street Lights: Not Just for Streets!

Solar Street Lights: Not Just for Streets!

Many US states and municipalities also choosing to go green to stretch tight budgets and help with the growing desire to be environmentally sustainable.

Cities and states throughout the United States are looking towards solar to save energy costs and help meet their environmental sustainability goals.

So too are universities, businesses, ports and other entities responsible for providing safe and reliable lighting for streets and roadways, sidewalks, parking lots, jogging or biking paths, and more.

We are very pleased to announce that our store, SolarFlairLighting.com now offers solar street lights that are are made in the USA fully compliant with the Trade Act Agreement (TAA).  TAA compliance is necessary to obtain funding under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which funds 90% of all road and bridge projects in the United States, even those administered at state and local levels.

TAA compliance is also necessary for most renewable energy incentive programs and grants.  For more information, please contact info@SolarFlairLighting.com.  Information on these incentive programs is available online at DSIRE, Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency at http://www.dsireusa.org.  DSIRE maintains a continuously updated database of federal, state, and local programs for renewable energy.

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Get the Most Out of Solar Lights!

Maximize Your Solar Lighting

All solar lights work best when they are placed and used properly.  While summertime has the strongest sunlight, you can maximize the advantages of solar lighting throughout the year.

Solar lighting technology has come a long way over the past couple of years. Better ways to use LED lighting, more weather-tight construction, and better designs make it the smart choice. When going solar, make sure that you buy quality products that use the latest in technology and design for both the light source and the housing.

Like many evolving technologies, solar lighting is definitely one where you get what you pay for in terms of appearance, reliability, product lifespan, and light quality.

Regardless of what type of solar lighting fixture you purchase, there are easy things you can do to get the most from your solar lights.

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Brighten Thing Up with Decorative Solar Lights!

Start Thinking About Spring & Summer Fun!

It’s winter and in many area of North America, it’s cold and bleak, so we want to brighten things up by talking about Decorative Solar Lights!

Instead of discussing nuclear plants and solar lighting, online scams, or the benefits of solar products during emergencies, this post focuses on the fun and attractive solar lights available for your garden, patio, pool and more.

Solar Accent Lights

Solar Accent Lights

While many people thing of string lights in terms of ornamental outdoor lighting or fancy accent lights, there’s a lot more options for decorative solar lighting available.

Springtime will be here before we know it, making now a great time to look at some of the “lighter” sides of solar powered products!

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Today’s Solar Lamps: Bright, Reliable and Stylish

Pillar Mounted Solar Lamp

Pillar Mounted Solar Lamp

Lamp posts at the entrance to your property, along your driveway, or near your front door not only welcome you and your guests, they add safety to your property.  As with all lights, solar lamp posts can also help ward off unwelcome company.

Somebody recently told me “forget about solar lights, they don’t give off much light.” Baloney!

In the past, this may well have been true but not today. Modern solar lamps incorporate state-of-the-art engineering in all components and come in a variety of styles to meet a variety of tastes to match the decor of your property.

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Solar Lights and Pressure Washers: Not a Good Mix

I found out the hard way:  pressure washers and solar lights don’t play nicely together.

We hired painters to paint our house and they came a day early to prep because they had an opening in the schedule. We and our solar lights were not prepared.

I came home to find all of our lights (solar and non-solar) covered with hardened strips of latex paint; dryer and bathroom vents and air conditioners were covered as well.

While I wasn’t surprised about the lights mounted directly on the house were covered with paint, I was stunned that solar lights chairs, grills and bird baths over 20 feet away from the house were covered with scraps of old paint strips, grass and dirt.  I also panicked at first because the paint had dried solid because it was a very dry and hot day.

Luckily, only one spot light was broken and that was because instead of securely attaching it to a deck post, I had hung it from a couple of nails where a plaque had been.  Not a wise move, it turns out; I found it in the yard over 20 feet away from the house, bent and filled with water and definitely beyond repair.

The good news is that all the other solar fixtures and electrical lights are all as good as new.  But it made me think that it wouldn’t hurt to give pointers to others facing this situation, particularly:

  • Preventing Damage to Solar Panels and All Lighting
  • How to Clean these Fixtures without Damage Should They get Soiled

Preventing Damage

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is true for solar lights in particular. Since solar security lights are easy to install, whenever possible, remove any solar panels that are remotely connected to solar spot or flood lights. If this can’t be done, make sure that the solar panels and lights are securely attached to the wall.

Next, cover all remote solar panels and all lighting fixtures with plastic bags and secure them with duct tape.  This will prevent the paint and dirt from spraying on to the fixtures.

While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to cover other things such as air conditioners or dryer or soffit vents.  Even if they are not in the direct path of the pressure washer, the splash back of the pressurized water is very strong and as noted above, reaches distances further than you might think.

Cleaning Paint from Solar Panels and Lighting Fixtures

While oil paint is unlikely to be come soft enough to re-dry onto other fixtures, latex paint will.  It’s actually an easy, though time consuming fix.   First, use a soft brush to loosen and brush off the paint that you can.

No matter how much you are tempted, do not use any object to scrape the paint.  Similarly, don’t use any harsh cleaners or paint solvents as these will damage the solar panel and any plastic parts of the lights.

While solar panels are generally study, a utility knife or razor blade will undoubtedly scratch them at the minimum or do permanent damage at worst.

Instead, take wet paper towels or rags and lay them over the area where the paint as dried. After a few minutes, you will be able to easily peel of most of the paint. For paint in corners or in any grooves, just use a soft toothbrush to brush it away.

(On an less pleasant note, the above method also works to remove “bird droppings” from solar panels and any type of lighting fixture.  Disgusting yes, but a necessary task for many locations.)

The same method can be used on plastic or glass panes of lighting fixtures.  While a razor blade can be used on glass panels, anything sharp is likely to permanently scratch plastic panes.

Within a couple of hours after my original horror at the state of the lights, all fixtures and solar panels were as good as new, except for the one that was not securely attached and was knocked several feet away.

Still, next time I plan on asking for a firm date when workers will come and cover the fixtures and solar panels as outlined above.  It will take far less time then cleaning.  In addition, we were lucky that no hard objects such as rocks hit any of the glass fixtures.

It’s Wind! It’s Solar! No, It’s Hybrid!

Boston Replacing Gas with Solar Solar

Photo from Boston Globe, 6/06/11

Lots of states, cities, companies and universities have been using solar lights for a few years now.

In fact, the City of Boston just announced a plan to retrofit 600 historic gas lamps in key neighborhoods with solar lights, saving the City roughly $140,000 a year in fuel bills while reducing carbon emissions. The $450,000 cost of the devices will pay for themselves in by eliminating gas costs in a little over three years.

There’s been a lot of news lately about other cities, private companies and universities using solar lights for roadway, park and parking lot lighting.

What hasn’t been talked about much are hybrid lights, those powered by solar panels and wind turbines. And they are a great solution, as few places are without wind or sun for any significant period of time. Continue reading