Many of us are now used to having some form of lighting in the garden and in this article we aim to give you some insights into the different types of lights that are available, the pro’s and con’s of each and help you decide what’s best for you and your garden.
Mains, battery or solar powered?
For mains lighting in the garden, there are two options; an extension lead from indoors or permanently installed cabling.
At Christmas time an extension taken from the house can be a reasonable solution because there isn’t much traffic in the garden and it’s only there for a short time, but that may not be a suitable solution for all-year-round garden lighting.
It’s absolutely essential to ensure that the lights you use are recommended for outdoor use and preferably of low voltage – particularly if you are running them from an extension lead from indoors.
Only use lights outdoors that are recommended outdoor use.
Permanent mains powered garden lighting is generally found in electrical stores rather than garden centres and should only be installed by a qualified electrician.
Battery powered lighting
Simple battery powered lighting will usually work off standard batteries, with the number and size of the batteries being related to the number of bulbs they’re lighting.
With LED battery-powered lights, there’s often an in-built 6/18hour on/off timer and these tend to be designed so that you’ll get at least a full month from a set of batteries (although members of staff have found that you can often get longer than that).
To choose from our range of battery-operated lights with timer, please click here.
Solar powered lighting
Solar lighting has 4 main working components:
solar panel – converts sunlight to charge. Keep the panel clean and in clear sight of the sun’s rays to maximise efficiency.
rechargeable batteries – store the charge generated by the solar panel in daytime to power lights when darkness falls. Batteries can be replaced when their efficiency reduces. Remove them when storing solar lights.
controller – this is the sensor that detects the light levels and switches the light on when it becomes dark.
led unit – the ‘light bulb’. For modern led lights the unit of measurement is in lumens – and as you might imagine, more lumens = more light!
As technology progresses, the two components where we see the biggest improvement is in the quality of the solar panel and the brightness of the light bulb. Generally speaking, when you buy a more expensive solar light, these are the components that will affect the price.
When you first purchase your solar lighting, leave the light in the ‘off’ postion for a couple of days to allow the batteries to build up charge before you try to run the lights.
Although it may be possible – depending on the efficiency of the solar panel – to run the solar lighting through the winter, that can be difficult in Scotland with our short (and often grey!) winter days. We therefore recommend that you store your lights over winter. Clean the solar panel and remove the batteries before doing so, and you’ll be all ready to go again in the spring.
There is (obviously!) a clear relationship between the amount of sunlight and the charge generated, which means that solar lighting can be less effective at some times of year. For that reason, many manufacturers are now designing dual-powered lighting; systems that run primarily on solar power (which boosts the rechargeable batteries) and also incorporate standard batteries as a standby for when the rechargeable batteries have insufficient power.
We’re seeing more of this type of lighting becoming available allowing customers to enjoy inexpensive garden lighting throughout the year.
Garden Lighting Products