"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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Solar lights are available in many designs and possible applications are only limited by your imagination. Some common uses are for decks, steps, walkways, driveways, in gardens, around pools, ponds, etc. If you want to be real creative, place a floating pond light in the punch bowl when hosting an evening garden party! No kidding, it looks really neat. Instead of the "stick-in-the-garden" walkway light there are also solar lights that have been built into bricks so they can be embedded into brick pathways.
Solar lights are only 100% "green" if
you don't thow the disposable batteries in the trash but dispose of them as directed by your municipality. Some stores will collect your old batteries.

Solar powered light

Solar lighting

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Solar powered garden lights are very popular, mainly because they are easy to install and provide a cheaper alternative to wired lamps. The lights are also eco-friendly or "green" as they do not require renewable energy to operate.
How do they work?
There is a photovoltaic panel at the top of the light fixture. Sunlight charges the panel and stores the energy created into a rechargeable battery located below the panel. They turn on automatically at dusk. Each unit stores enough energy to provide light for up to eight hours or longer. Many manufacturers claim that the LED bulb will last a lifetime.
In recent years, more and more people have shown an interest in solar lighting.
Benefits of solar power for the homeowner
- Light fixtures are available in a staggering array of styles and colours.
- Easy to install.
- No wires to run and hide.
- Light fixtures are often "portable" and locations can be rearranged whenever you feel inclined to do so.
- Virtually no maintenance except for the occasional cleaning of the solar panel and, in northern climates, removal of accumulated snow.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- No costs to operate. Not having to spend electricity to light up the yard, walkway or driveway will save a bundle.
Benefits for mankind
- Solar power is a "green" source of energy. The lights are eco-friendly as they do not pollute our environment.

Solar flood light. Image courtesy of WSE Technology

- An issue with solar powered garden lights is often how long the lights will burn on a full charge. It may be not long enough for it to be useful as a security system.
- In northern climates, where the days are shorter during the winter, there may not be enough sunlight to keep the solar powered garden lights on all night. Also, the snow has to be cleared off after each snow fall. Storing the lights away for the winter may be a good option.
Solar-Powered Floodlight with Infrared Motion Sensor
It may not always be practical to install a 120 volt floodlight for backyard sheds or farm yard outbuildings. The solar powered floodlight shown to the right has a 10W halogen bulb which can light up a large area. The sensor can pick up any movement up to a range of 12 m. (39 feet).

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