Go Green: How to Maintain Solar Deck Lights

With solar deck lights you can illuminate an outdoor space using only the sun as the energy supplier. After the initial purchase of the lights they are cost free, making them the green choice for deck lighting. There is no electricity required to power them, nor do they require a natural gas connection. With direct sunlight, they provide an entirely sustainable means of illumination that, with a little maintenance, will last you years. 

How Solar Outdoor Lights Work

The way outdoor solar lights work is simple: during the day when the sun shines the lights’ solar panel absorbs radiation from the sun. A small battery in each light stores this energy that is built up while the sun is out. At night, after a photosensor no longer detects any sunlight, the LED within the fixture is activated. The light shines as long as there is power in the battery. Provided the lights are exposed to sunlight everyday, the batteries are constantly recharged, meaning they will always illuminate when the sun goes down. 

Types of Solar Lights

There are literally dozens of styles of solar lights, from recessed deck lights that you install flush with the surface of the deck to post lights and step lights. They are designed to look modern, rustic or to fit in with the outdoor decor and landscaping of any home or building. Outdoor solar lights are made to blend in with the deck and to resemble any conceivable electrical fixture. Outdoor solar lighting is typically used for ambiance such as softly illuminating a pathway, stairs or deck railing. The biggest criticism of solar lighting is that it does not provide as much nighttime visibility as electric or gas lighting, but more powerful solar lighting is available. For most deck uses, ambiance is all that is desired. Still, a combination of solar post lights, step lights and recessed lights is enough to produce a warm glow on the deck that extends in part to the surrounding landscape. 

Maintenance of Outdoor Solar Lights

Perhaps the best attribute of outdoor solar lighting is that it is relatively maintenance free. After its installation, the only things that need to be done to ensure proper working order is infrequent battery replacement and keeping the solar panel clean. NiMh batteries are superior to NiCd rechargeable batteries mainly for the memory effect. NiCd batteries tend to lose charge capability after many recharges. NiMh batteries will last 2 years when of the best quality, so that creates little work for you. The most you will have to do is keep the solar panel clean. Dust and dirt will eventually cover the panel, at which point it will no longer effectively absorb solar energy. Keeping the panels clean, however, is a quick matter of wiping it down every so often. 

With no cables, wires or external power supply to worry about, solar deck lighting is the maintenance-free and green choice for outdoor illumination. Only requiring occasional cleaning and the infrequent replacement of their batteries, outdoor solar lighting is largely self contained. And because solar lighting comes in numerous styles, you can practically custom fit your deck with an assortment of lights that only require direct sunlight for their power.