We all know that water and electricity are not a good mix. So it is only natural that one could have concerns about their outdoor solar lights getting wet.
Questions like, ‘will it electrocute someone or maybe catch fire?’ are completely feasible. But the reality is, engineers are well aware of the inherent dangers of outdoor electricity and have this in the forefront of their minds when they design the light fixtures that illuminate your yard.
Consequently, if the engineers have done their homework – and hopefully a little testing – rain will not hurt your outdoor solar light.
This is not to say that the solar light can be submerged or withstand the constant barrage of a water sprinkler. Only that certain features have been designed into the light that should offer protection for the components handling electricity.
Benefits Of Rain
Believe it or not, there are actually some benefits to gained for your solar light when exposed to rain.
Solar cells work on the concept of electron movement caused by the bombardment of photons found in sunlight. For more on this, please read, ‘How Do Solar Panels Work?’
Simply speaking, the more photons that come in contact with your solar cell, the more energy they can produce – which for the homeowner, translates as brighter, longer-lasting illumination from the solar light.
There are many things that can affect this process of photon bombardment, one of which is dust on the solar cell.
Dust particles can deflect the photons, preventing them from coming in contact with the material in the solar cell and thusly lowering energy generation.
When it rains, these dust particles are washed away and a clear path for sunlight is restored.
Risks From Rain
While a capable engineer may have designed a flawless outdoor light, what happens during manufacturing is beyond their control. Having worked in manufacturing, I can tell you that things do occasionally go wrong.
Certain types of lights can be more susceptible to rain, simply because of way their components are made.
Power generation is one area where this can be seen.
Outdoor lights generally have two different kinds of solar cells – thin film and crystalline. As explained in the article, ‘Do Solar Lights Need Direct Sunlight?’ thin film solar cells have material sprayed onto them, while crystalline solar cells are made up of a sandwich of materials.
In the case of thin film, there is very little opportunity for water to get into the solar cell as the power generating film is applied directly to a surface. Much like the paint on a car, direct access to metal is difficult from the painted side.
However, crystalline cells are a sandwich of components. And if access can be obtained, say from the side, then moisture can cause the cells to degrade. Depending on the design of the solar light (meaning places for water to accumulate) and the design of the solar cell, water can be detrimental.
Rain And Decreased Power Output
Arguably, the most notable way rain will affect your solar lights is by reduced power generation. Remember, solar cells generate power by the bombardment of photons present in sunlight.
And if it’s raining, then it’s probably not very sunny outside.
While this is not necessarily a hazardous situation, rain is less than ideal when it comes to powering your solar lights. It is not uncommon to see a decrease in performance from your solar light after a rainy day, simply because less than adequate power was produced.