I have a rather dark, shaded lot. Having lighting on the walkway to
my front door, and perhaps on the steps leading up to the deck at the
back of my house, would be a very Good Thing. I'm not real impressed
with any of the solar lights available, but I have an idea. Could I
perhaps use a solar cell to charge a 12V UPS style battery (7-10 AH?)
then use a photocell to switch the 12V from the battery to a string of
regular low voltage lights whenever it gets dark? Where would I go
about finding an appropriate solar cell and charging circuit to make
this work? Are there any good LED style low voltage lights on the
market, or are they all pretty much still incandescent?
In theory it should work. The trade-off is how big of a solar panel
you need, how much it costs and weighing that against the the lower
power requirements of LEDs versus incandescent lights. The battery
part should be the easiest, any boat type deep cycle battery should
work fine. The solar powered LED walkway lights I've tried from HD
were marginal. They are barely bright enough to light up the edge of
a walkway so you can see where to walk, but not bright enough for much
more than that. There are probably other LED lights available with
higher output. The problem with the self-powered ones, as you
already know, is that they need to be in full sun to get enough
charge. Driving down the street I see lots of half-ass ones that are
By splitting off the solar panel to a good location, no reason your
approach would not work. I see solar/battery powered blinking lights
along the road now in many places and that is what has been used for
decades for most waterway flashing buoys.
The only obvious question is whether for the small amount of $$ it
costs to run some sidewalk lights is worth all the trouble and cost of
implementing what you're talking about. For example, the battery has
to be replaced at some point and I would bet that alone could equal
the cost of just using electricity.
One place you could start to look is at solar panels sold to keep
cars, rv's, boats, etc charged. Also, I'm sure if you type in solar
panel in Ebay you will find some quick info.
On Dec 22, 9:36 am, email@example.com wrote:
that, and the solar panels are of shite quality and don't last. And
the overall construction of them is just garbage. Yes, we bought some
HD special solar lights when we moved in and they're all trash now.
Battery cost is not an issue for me; where I work we regularly deal
with this kind of stuff so I could probably even get old batteries
that don't meet their ratings anymore for free just by sorting through
the junk pile. My real problem is sorting the good stuff from the
junk when it comes to solar panels, I just don't have a whole lot of
knowledge in this respect.
Or I suppose I could just "liberate" a solar panel from one of those
roadside sign things :P (no, seriously, I wouldn't do that...)
I think I have a couple of those plug-into-your-cigarette-lighter
solar panels that used to ship with new VWs to keep the batteries
topped up, but I suspect those may not have enough onions to do the
really, my purpose in this whole exercise is just to see if I can do
something cool and efficient that will actually work; I don't really
expect to save any money. Having a "free" topped up 12V battery in my
basement would be a nice bonus for when the power goes out, although
of course it's just as easy to grab a battery out of one of the cars.
Depending on how handy you are, you
might consider turning on one
or 2 lights continuously when dark, but,
then when a motion detector
sees people movement, turn on the rest
of the string. This should
improve battery time and cut down on the
size of the solar charge
The goal is obviously safety. Seems to me that the shortest path to that
goal would be to install whatever lights work best in terms of illumination
and durability, even if they're AC powered, **BUT** install a motion sensor
(or timer) to control them. There's got to be a way to buy just sensors
similar to the ones which come attached to floodlights.
Ba da bing. Mission accomplished.
If you do go to a powered system, make sure the timer switch is on the
input to the 12V transformer, otherwise you are wasting power in the
transformer all the time. Only a few watts, but they add up over time.
I'd say the primary advantage to the solar powered low voltage
lighting is that you do not have to run wires. Once you start running
wires then you might as well use a transformer too. You won't be
saving moeny if you factor in battery and solar power life cycle
costs. And the impact on the environment of those items verses the
power company is not so cut and dried, the battery has a pre
production and disposal impact. So do the solar panels.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.