Should You Choose Solar Lighting for Your Garden?

Choosing the right lights and design for your landscape or garden doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Start with a piece of paper in the afternoon and sit out in the area your planning on lighting and answer these simple questions:

Do you need functional or decorative lighting? (Both is an acceptable answer.) Some garden lighting has functional purposes, for instance, walk down a path without tripping. You can also install lights for security purposes, like a floodlight hooked up to a motion detector that comes on when you arrive in the driveway. Of course there are purely aesthetic reasons for lighting your garden as well. Garden lights can be used to create atmosphere or highlight cherished garden areas or decorations.

What type of energy will power your lighting?

There are four main types of energy that power most garden lighting: electric, gas/oil fueled, solar and non powered.

Gas/Oil: Torches and gaslights have a small canister to fill with liquid fuel. These gas-powered lights are great for sparse use, but impractical to fill often. They may also be a fire hazard, so they need to be kept clear of plants and flammable material.

Electrical: Electrical is more convenient and versatile. A low-voltage electrically illuminated garden is easy to install, but the transformer must be kept safe from the elements. Higher-voltage lighting systems need to be installed by an electrician. Make sure you are always careful of hidden cables while using garden tools.

Solar Lights: Solar lights are simple, versatile and eco-friendly. These lights store the sun’s energy in photovoltaic cells. At sundown they are turned on, and stay on until they run out of power or the sun rises again. Most of these lights use LEDs, which require less energy than bulbs.

Non-Powered: Non-powered includes candles and lanterns. These act as great temporary sources of light during a party or special event. As with gas-powered lights, these lights present a fire hazard if not carefully placed.

How much lighting does your garden require?

For a decoratively lit garden, a few lights are all you need. On the other hand if you plan to work on your garden after dark you will need a more powerful light source. You may consider a spotlight or two to light the entire garden area.

What material should your lighting hardware be made of?

There are many different types of materials and finishes available. Some popular designs include wrought iron, panted or unpainted metal, copper plastic or glass. Wrought iron and copper tend to be the most durable and will weather to a patina that blends in well with most gardens.

Once you have decided on these basic requirements, trust your instincts to guide you through most other decisions. Browse at a home improvement store and see what possibilities await you.

Choose the right light for your garden

Choose the right light for your garden

Home Garden Lighting

Your garden can be your personal space to feel nature, even in the middle of a modern metropolis. Everyone enjoys a sunny morning, how can we attain that feeling at night? Choose the right lighting and your garden can be a romantic hideaway all night long. There are two types of electric lighting for self-installation: low-voltage garden lighting and solar.

Low Voltage and Solar Garden Path Lighting

These are very economical choices for lighting your garden. You can even set them up to an automatic timer. This keeps your garden path lighting system from needless energy waste. It is also shock-free, so it is very safe for children and pets. Best Solar path lighting doesn’t require any wiring and draws all of its energy from the sun. The drawback is that it cannot be used to power large areas. (more…)

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Solar Panels DIY Projects

Brief Overview of the Build Solar Panels DIY Projects

$200 DIY Build Solar Panels Projects? What you need to know about these projects, who can build a solar panel, what information is required, and what elements make up a solar panel energy system.

 Who can build a solar panel?

Anyone can build a solar panel. All you need is some basic DIY skills: use of drills, screwdrivers, hammers, saws and soldering iron.  A solar panel is a simple assembly of the solar cells on a backboard with a clear cover, a frame to hold it all together, and some wiring to connect the panel to other panels or your batteries. Anyone can put together a solar panel in just a few hours.

 What information you need (Plan – Guide – Materials)

Information is the key!  Any project, large or small needs a plan to be successful. Your plan is your overall strategy and includes preparations, scheduling, selecting your guide, gathering materials, building the panels, testing the panels, installing the panels, connecting the panels to your batteries, and then connecting to your home energy supply.

Most important in your overall plan is the selection of your Guide. The guide is your step-by-step procedure on how to assemble, test and install the solar panels.I have reviewed many guides for solar panel projects.

Next we will go over the elements of a solar energy system and discuss the materials you will need.

Overview of Solar Energy System

Solar Energy System

Let’s take a brief look at the components of home solar energy system. This is a basic system with just the essentials.Obviously, the more elaborate your system becomes, the more sophisticated your setup must be. (More expensive.)

Solar Panels

The solar panel is the starting point for your system. Solar cells in the panel convert the solar energy from the sun into Direct Current (DC) electricity. One solar cell typically produces 1/2 volt of electricity. So you will need 36 cells to generate about 18 volts for one panel (18 volts is the minimum required to charge a 12 volt battery). Panels are wired in series and/or parallel to create higher voltages or more capacity (amperes).

Charge Controller

Charge Controller

A Charge Controller is a device which protects the batteries from being overcharged and prevents the batteries from discharging into the solar panels. This is a very important part of the solar energy system, but is relatively low cost.  Typical charge controllers can be purchased for $12 to $25.

The Charge Controller is located between the solar panels and the batteries.


Batteries are required to two reasons. One to provide a means of storing the electricity generated from the solar panels, and Two to provide a regulated buffer from the irregular output of the solar panels. Batteries absorb the highs and lows of the solar cells, such as when the sun is directly producing high output, or when the sun is partially obscured by clouds. To fully meet the above reasons, you should choose high quality batteries such as deep cycle batteries. They are commonly used batteries for solar systems. These batteries regulate solar power flow and provide a constant source of energy for the home energy system

Inverter – Converting Battery DC to Home AC


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Solar solutions

Solar Solution – Great Alternative Energy Source

Solar solutions to power are proving to be increasingly more valuable. As pollution and global warming increase, traditional energy sources are no longer a viable option. Renewable energy sources, unlike fossil fuel resources, are unlimited. Solar panels information products are springing up everywhere as the technology develops.

It’s incredible to think that the power transmitted by the sun in just one hour, is more than the whole planet uses in a year. Passive solar power is created by designing or redesigning a building to make the best use of sunlight and heat. An example of this is adding a south-facing window or increasing insulation in your roof in order to capture the sun’s heat for longer. Any “passive” adjustments like these would be installed either when the house is initially built, or during major refurbishment. Adding a collector like a solar panel, would be referred to as “active” solar power.

A lot of people think that solar panel technology requires direct continuous sunlight in order to work whereas, in fact solar panels can actually convert any light form that hits them and they are effective in doing this even on cloudy days. For after-dark energy supply, there are two possibilities. Your other option is to use batteries to store any excess electricity generated during the day. Or, as your solar power system creates electricity during the day, any excess can be stored in batteries, which will then run your TV and lights after dark. (more…)

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Solar Umbrella Lights

Solar Umbrella Lights Product Review – 9 feet Aluminum and Steel Solar Market Umbrella

We all enjoy and love the summer heat – but not too much of it though. Good thing Southern Patio has devised its own solar umbrella lights to make our summer perfectly comfortable and fun. They give us convenient shade while out in the sun, and provide us with the necessary lighting in the evening. What’s more are their eco-friendly credentials – no energy-wasters, no pollution contributors, just one efficient solar powered outdoor patio light. Other features:

  • The umbrella canopy is made from polyester material that is designed to resist water and mold.
  • It has an 8-LED hub solar light at the center, and 3 LED lights on each of the 6 umbrella ribs.
  • The solar lights are all in white LED, and there are two available umbrella colors: taupe and sage green.
  • Product dimensions are in inches: 108.3 x 108.3 x 92.5; the shipping weight is around 15 pounds.
  • The solar panel is pre-installed on top of the umbrella.

Product features

This product features an air vent for better air circulation while under the umbrella. It also has a crank system and a tilt mechanism, all for the user’s convenience. The aluminium pole is connected to the snap button for easy set up and for an effortless safekeeping of the umbrella. There are two lighting system – one solar hub light at the center of the umbrella pole, and smaller LED lights on each of the rib. And both of the lighting system has their own separate switches too. (more…)

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Batteries for a Home Energy System

A Brief Overview of Batteries for a Home Energy System.

You have built your new solar panels and they are providing power for your home.  But what happens when you leave the house, turning off your lights and appliances?  Where does all that fresh clean newly produced solar energy go now that your household demand has dropped to nearly zero? 

The answer is Batteries!

A battery is a device that stores electrical energy.  Batteries are made up of positive and negative terminal material, separated by an electrolytic medium (something that allows the flow of electrons from one terminal to the other).

There are many types of batteries.  Wet, Gel or Dry.

The best example of wet or gel type batteries are the automotive batteries we use in our cars.  These are mostly Lead-Acid type.

Marine or Deep Cycle batteries are a special purpose battery designed to provide a constant current for long periods.  Automotive batteries are designed to produce a high current for a brief period to start the motor.

The long constant current capability is what makes the deep cycle batteries ideal for solar energy systems.

NiCad batteries are made from Nichol-Cadium and are a dry rechargeable type battery.  NiCad are used in many electronic devices but do not have the capacity required for a home solar energy system.

Lithium Ion batteries are the newest and most powerful variety of rechargeable battery.  Li Ion batteries have a storage capacity greater than Lead-Acid batteries, and have the same constant current delivery properties as the deep cycle batteries.

Li Ion batteries would be the ideal choice for home solar energy systems, however at this time, they are 3 to 4 times the cost of the available lead-acid deep cycle batteries. (more…)

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Solar Panel Maintenance

Solar Panel Maintenance in 5 Easy Steps

Solar panels have no moving parts and are “maintenance free”.  But, even solar panels get dirty and need periodic cleaning or they will lose efficiency to convert solar light into clean electrical energy for your home.  Debris like dust, dirt, algae, mold, or leaves can all reduce the amount of sun your solar cells receive.

The key to peak performance of your solar panels is regular maintenance.

Here are 5 easy steps for solar panel maintenance:

  1. Clean Plexiglas surfaces
  2. Check/Reseal waterproof seals
  3. Check weep holes
  4. Check/tighten electrical connections
  5. Check/secure mounting hardware

Clean your Plexiglas (plexiglass, Lexan, Lucite or other acrylic sheet) with care.  Plexiglas surfaces are easily scratched or damaged by dirt, hard brushes or harsh cleansers. Do not use scrubbing pads or gritty cleaners! These cause scratches in the Plexiglas surface which reduce its ability to pass the sun’s energy to the solar cells.

plexiglass solar panel

Cleaning Plexiglas should be done by first gently rinsing the surface with water to float the dirt off, then using a soft cloth with a mild dish detergent and warm water solution to remove the remaining dirt.  Change the cloth’s cleaning area to prevent scratching from the dirt build up. (more…)

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diy solar power kits

DIY Solar Power Kits – A few Faq’s

Why must I recieve any system?

Do-it-yourself solar power kits are a great way associated with assisting shield the planet, and also allow you to lower your expenses! Certainly producing your own electrical power cuts down on quantity of energy you have, and thus you will find that your own energy costs is going to be reduce. If you help to make replenishable energy in addition, you reduce your reliance upon the particular energy created by using past energy sources, that is significantly risking the earth as a result of climatic change. Therefore Do-it-yourself solar power kits assist you, your bank account, and also our own total earth.

How are you affected when the sun decreases?

A lot of people believe that Do-it-yourself solar power kitskits are only able to operate during the daytime : well this is actually partly true, needless to say solar solar panels are in the most effective when they’re inside sunshine. Even so, the most up-to-date researchers have already been in a position to produce solar sections that happen to be able to produce small amounts of energy from the ir mild obtainable throughout the night. It’s prior to this technology is going to be readily available for Do-it-yourself solar power kitskits, but also in the long run it might be very easy to you could make your own energy Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week! (more…)

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Solar Energy for kids and DIY Solar Energy Kits

Solar energy is the future of the energy requirements in the United Kingdom, United States and other countries. And, it is important for kids to understand both the generation and usage of this form of green energy. When kids are taught about solar energy, they would be able to make better energy choices in the future. The exploration of DIY solar projects such as building solar cars and solar boats will also help kids in understanding the technology better. In addition, solar toys are also great ways for teaching kids about solar energy.

Solar Cars

Just like homes powered by solar energy, solar cars also run from the energy supplied by the sun. Solar cars convert the sun’s energy into electricity and use this electricity for running. The sun’s energy is collected by using solar panels, and this energy is used for fueling the deep cycle batteries that run the car’s motor. Designers of solar cars consider the basic designs of solar panels and cars so as to create the best possible solar car designs.

In fact, they have to install many solar panels in order to generate sufficient energy for running a car. And, this is can be a complex situation given that there is not much surface area on the top of a car. In addition, they have to build cars that are light. The World Solar Challenge is the most popular solar car race in the world. This race is held in Australia, where cars powered by sunlight come from different parts of the world.

Solar Boats

Solar Boats

In addition to solar cars, solar boats are also interesting solar energy trivia for kids. One of the popular examples of solar boats is the “Solar Sailor,” that is located in Sydney, Australia. It’s Solar Wings can capture both sunlight and wind power for generating electricity. The wings are moved by a computer for getting into a position so that it can attract maximum amount of solar energy and wind. It has larger batteries for storing all the generated electricity. (more…)

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Solar Energy

How Does Solar Energy Work ?

If you want to know how solar energy works, the answer is dual in nature. It is as simple as getting warmed up in the sun and it is as complex as installing and using solar panels for generating electricity. Photovoltaic cells are the components in solar panels that transform the sun’s energy into electricity. Basically, moving photons are used in creating electric current inside the solar panels.

Photons get created inside the sun through the fusion of atoms. Any photon takes around one million years to reach the solar surface. Once it becomes free it takes just 8 minutes to reach earth. It is this energy originating in the form of a photon in the sun that is already powering lives on the planet including feeding plants, refreshing and redistributing water and creating other types of energy, including fossil fuel.

In the last few decades, there has been huge growth in the technology designed for harnessing solar power that doesn’t cause any pollution, radiation or noise. In addition, the new source of energy is not affected by the economical conditions that drive up the price of fossil fuels and hydro power every year.

Types of Solar Energy Conversion

Basically there are two approaches for conversion of solar energy into useful energy. These approaches are solar thermal and photovoltaic.

Solar thermal

Solar thermal

Solar thermal approach utilizes the energy from the sun to generate heat directly. In this case, solar panels are used for collecting heat from sunlight and transfer it for a wide range of heating applications including water and space. Usually, this type of solar panels are placed in such a way that they absorb maximum amount of heat from the sun for the maximum period during daytime. (more…)

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