With global warming and climate change seen as serious threats to the earth and its inhabitants, the need for alternative energy options has sparked renewed interest in using solar power for a variety of applications. Before committing to using solar power for any application, it would be wise to look at the inherent advantages and disadvantages of relying on the sun for power.
Long Term Cost
When using solar powered lighting for less crucial applications like landscape or garden lighting, you can often set it up and forget about it. With the sun's rays being completely free, the long term cost of your landscape lighting amounts to the initial cost of the lights. This is a huge advantage, where using solar lighting instead of electrical lighting to light up your landscape and outdoor areas will ultimately save hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the course of years.
Again, when you use solar lighting for non crucial applications like outdoor lighting, you are able to set up the lights and forget about them. They can do their job for years without need for your intervention.
There is very little maintenance needed for solar powered outdoor lights, as they should last years before you need to replace them or replace a part.
If you're simply going to light your pathways or driveway, then solar lighting is a great choice, as you'll be able to set the lights into the ground very easily, without any complicated, messy or dangerous electrical hookups.
Just as with other types of solar lighting, the initial cost for solar powered outdoor lighting is usually higher than with electric outdoor lights. If you have a large yard, long driveway, long pathways or want to light up all your trees at night, then the initial cost of solar powered lighting may add up to quite a lot.
While the need for maintenance is cut down substantially by using solar powered outdoor lighting, there is also another side to the reliability coin. You are, in the end, still using a power source that is only available for little more than half the day. Then consider that rainy, foggy, snowy or stormy days will allow the lights to gather very little energy for lighting up your landscape at night. In the case of weather inhibiting energy storage, some solar lighting kits have a built in back up battery or use electricity as a backup power source. However, in the case of lights that have no backup power source, you may find that on winter days, they only light up for a few hours a night or will simply have a dimmer light for a shorter time.
Whether you choose solar powered lighting for outdoor areas or you choose traditional lighting methods, it's important to consider the pros and cons of each method.