Should You Turn Solar Lights Off At Night?

There’s no doubt about it, adding solar lights to your walkway can really step your ‘A-Game’.

When tastefully done, these small lights can bring a soft ambiance, adding to the visual appeal of your home. And should you have guests at night, they are certain to appreciate being able to see the path as they walk it – void of unwanted shadows often caused by lights hung at eye level.

It’s no wonder so many people are using them.

Yet despite their growing popularity, solar lights are rarely fully understood by those who use them.

And with so many of us being raised to ‘turn off the light when you’re not using it’, it is only natural for us to wonder whether or not solar lights should be turned off at night.

The answer to this question is simple.

Solar lights do not have to be turned off at night.

The majority of solar lights on the market today, turn on and off according to their design parameters and require almost no input after installation.

In other words, after placing them in a well thought out pattern, you simply need to sit back and appreciate them. Your solar lights should operate as consistently without the need to be managed.

Solar Lights: On/Off Switch

Should you acquire a package of solar lights and note an on/off switch, do not be alarmed. The general rule of ‘solar lights do not have to be turned off at night’ still applies. However, it should be noted that this switch was designed with purpose.

The following are a list of reasons why your solar lights may have an on/off switch.

  • Desired Shutdown – There may be times where you want the lights to stay off. For example, if you live in a location where snow accumulation is significant and you wish to bring your lights in for winter, having the ability to turn them off will avoid any undesired illumination as they sit in storage.
  • Battery Cycles – One of the most important factors for battery life is cycles (the charge and discharge process of electrons in and out of the battery.)

Should your solar lights be permanently on, then they will continue to try and operate as they have been designed to. This means, that the battery will never stop trying to power the LED – even if there is insufficient power to do so.

Having an off switch to break this process and could provide significant advantages towards extending the life of your light.

  • Initial charge – Some manufactures may recommend allowing your solar light to charge for an entire day before turning them on. This is to allow for a full charge for first time use. And while there will be days where environmental conditions prevent from your light achieving a full battery, it is always wise to follow manufacturer recommendations.

Solar Lights: How Do They Turn On?

While most of us have learned how solar cells generate electricity, and virtually everyone knows how batteries power our lives, very few people understand just exactly how a solar light knows when to turn on at night.

A solar light will know when to turn on by means of a photoresistor.

In the simplest of explanations, a photoresistor – also known as a light dependent resistor – allows electron flow in the presence of appropriate light levels (lots of light = lots of electron flow). However, in the absence of light, resistance to electron flow increases (no light = little/no electron flow).

With this behavior of electron flow being understood, engineers can design photoresistors to act as essentially sunlight sensors.

In short, when the sun is shinning, electron flow through the photoresistor is good, indicating a sort of ‘all is well’ signal and therefore, there is no need to engage the LED.

However, as the sunlight decreases, electron flow slows and eventually comes to the point where a sort of ‘it is too dark to continue’ signal is sent and your solar light knows it’s time to turn on.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, the ‘bang-for-buck’ value on solar lights is extraordinary!

Solar lights take their power from the sun, so there is no additional costs to your home electric bill. They make an excellent accent to your home and provide an increase level of safety for guests as they walk outside of your home in the dark.

For a great example of what’s available, check out this solar pathway light.