Last Updated on May 6, 2021
Solar power has been an essential source of renewable energy in today’s world. It can be a very cost-effective option in any household. Buying solar lights is usually the most common first step, but is it possible to charge them without the sun?
Let’s first take a look at how to charge solar lights normally. Solar lights have several essential components. These are the solar panels, the light sensor, the LED lights, and the rechargeable batteries.
The solar panels absorb solar energy from the sun. This is then converted into electricity. The electricity is then used to power the batteries or power source of the solar lights. Also, the light sensor detects sunlight throughout the day. This is used to determine whether the solar lights should be turned on or off.
As you can see, you generally need direct sunlight for solar lights to charge correctly. The more sunlight that shines on the solar panels, the more effectively they will charge. So what do you do during the winter when there is less sunlight? Or what do you do on cloudy days when the sunlight can’t penetrate the solar panels properly?
Charging Solar Lights Without the Sun
We have established that solar lights need direct sunlight to charge effectively. However, that is not the only way you can charge them! Don’t worry if you live somewhere where there is not much sunlight or many cloudy days. We have provided six solutions for how to charge solar lights without sun below:
Option 1: Use an Incandescent Light to Charge a Solar Light
Firstly, you can use another artificial light source for charging your solar lights! Yes, this may seem strange. Indeed, the point of solar lights is not to use electricity. This is true, but using incandescent bulbs is a great way to charge your solar lights during an emergency.
Incandescent lights work because both solar lighting and incandescent lights use a similar wavelength and frequency of light. You can use anything from a 40W up to a 100W incandescent bulb to charge solar lights without sun.
Place the incandescent bulb a couple of inches from the solar panels. It will then need to charge for anywhere between 6 to 12 hours. This is a great way to charge solar lights without sun. However, it is much slower.
Using incandescent bulbs usually takes up to five hours longer compared to using natural sunlight. Also, be sure to place the bulbs on a non-conductive surface and be careful when handling them. This is because the bulbs will get hot when left on for this amount of time.
Option 2: Use an LED Light to Charge Your Solar Lights
Similar to using incandescent lights, you can also use LED lights to charge solar lights when there is little to no sun. There are many different LED lights, such as LED light bulbs, LED headlamps, and LED torches. These types of artificial light can be highly effective to charge without sunlight.
To charge using LED lights, place the solar light a couple of inches from the LED light source and ensure it is turned on. It should then take several hours to charge fully.
There are several benefits to using these lights instead of incandescent light. First, LEDs are more energy-efficient. As a result, you will not use as much electricity to charge solar lights. Second, LEDs will charge your solar light much quicker. Therefore, if you need to charge your solar lighting, LEDs are the best option.
Option 3: Turn the Solar Lights off to Allow Them to Charge Properly
Option 3 is not a direct charging method but a vital tip to help charge your solar lights more effectively. Most solar lights have a “deep charge” function. This is where you turn the solar lights off entirely for 72 hours.
By turning the lights off, the batteries and solar panels can recharge properly. The lights are not powered. Therefore, there is no drain on the batteries. You could then use one of the above methods to charge without full sunlight.
If you do this once per month, you can improve the efficiency of your solar panels and solar lights.
Option 4: Reposition the Solar Lights to Receive More Indirect Sunlight
Another great tip is to reposition your lights. As mentioned, you can charge solar lights without direct sunlight. However, there must be at least some indirect sunlight to fall onto the solar panels. Therefore, it may simply be a case of repositioning your lights.
For example, maybe your solar lights are currently in a place that doesn’t get much sunlight. They could be obstructed, or they could be at the wrong angle. Try different positions and angles during cloudy days and see if this can improve the solar energy the panels are receiving.
It could be a simple case of observing the sun and shadows and simply changing the angle of the photovoltaic cells so that they are catching the sun properly.
Option 5: Use a Mirror to Reflect Sunlight Onto Your Solar Panels
What happens if you have fixed solar lights that cannot be moved easily? The sun is out, but they are not catching enough. To boost the charging, you could position a mirror to reflect sunlight onto the solar panel to charge solar lights effectively.
This is one of the tougher methods to use, but it can be effective. The main issue with this method is that you may need to change the position of the mirror at different hours of the day. If you leave the mirror in one position, the sun will eventually move, and the sunlight may not be reflected properly.
If you opt to use a mirror, it is important to use a larger mirror than the solar light. This will ensure that more light can be reflected onto the panels.
Option 6: Use Alternative Charging Methods
Many modern solar light solutions also have secondary charging methods. For example, some models today have a USB charging port. Therefore, you could detach the light, take it inside, and charge it using a standard USB cable and plug.
Alternatively, depending on the type of batteries inside the light, it could be possible to use a rechargeable battery pack. This method is a quick and easy way to charge solar lights without the sun. It is possible to buy charging units for different types of rechargeable batteries.
Tips for Using Your Solar Lights Effectively
As you can see, all hope is not lost! It is possible to charge your lights, regardless of the weather conditions! To further help you out, we have provided some helpful information on your solar lights’ practical usage and maintenance.
Keep the Solar Panels and Light Sensor Clean
Solar lights need maintenance and care. If you want them to charge effectively, and last, you must clean them regularly.
The cleaning process is simple and should not take too much time. The main areas you must clean are the solar panel, the light sensor, the LED lights, and the casing. If the solar panel is dirty or covered in debris, it may not absorb energy properly.
Also, if the light sensor s obstructed, it may not be able to detect daylight properly. As a result, the lights may never turn off! Over time, this could affect the solar panel and how effectively it charges.
Use a wet cloth to wipe the different parts of the solar light. Be careful when wiping the solar panel and light sensor. If they are damaged, the light will not work. It is also essential to then wipe the lights with a dry cloth to remove any excess moisture as this could potentially damage the circuits inside.
Position the Solar Lights, so They Are in Direct Sunlight
The importance of positioning cannot be stressed enough! This is something that should be given great thought. It would help if you also did plenty of planning to find the optimum position to place your solar light units.
First, your solar light unit should not be obstructed in any way. These include trees, bushes, fences – anything that covers the light and places it in shadow. You should observe your garden and look at which spots get the most sun. These should then be great places to install your panels and lights.
However, you must also look at other artificial light sources outside. Street lights, for example, can disrupt solar lights and affect how well they charge. If possible, the lights should be placed in direct sunlight, away from any other light sources.
Make Sure the Batteries Are Working Properly
Solar cells and lighting are complex pieces of technology. If your solar cells are not charging correctly, it does not always mean they are not getting as much sunlight as possible. This could also be an issue with the battery pack.
Check the power source you regularly use to make sure it is working properly. For example, you could take each battery out and test them in another electrical device.
If the device is powered, you can conclude the battery is working fine. It may then be another issue like a lack of sun or a faulty solar panel. Often with this type of light, it is a case of trial and error. You must check the different components to be sure where the issue lies.
Solar Light FAQS
Let’s go through some of the frequently asked questions about solar lights. Hopefully, this will help you have a clearer understanding of how solar lights work.
How Long Do Solar Light Batteries Last?
The rechargeable batteries inside these lights can last up to four years. However, it is more common for them to last between two to three years. It is vital to check they are working and have replacements handy if the current ones stop working.
How Long Does It Take to Charge Solar Lights in Direct Sunlight?
This depends on the model of light and the effectiveness of the solar panel. However, it is common to charge solar lights for anywhere between four to ten hours. Typically, six hours of charging should be sufficient, and this should allow the light to work for up to eight hours.
Do Solar Lights Charge During Cloudy Weather or the Winter?
Yes, even during a cloudy day or the winter, some sun will still provide light. However, the lights without the sun directly shining will not charge as effectively. This is why it is essential to understand how to charge solar lights without sun.
Can You Leave Solar Lights on Overnight?
Yes, although it is not advisable. If your lights have gained enough charge during the day, the batteries should easily last and provide energy for them overnight. However, if you do this frequently, it could affect the performance of the lights later on. It is a better idea to use a timer function or switch the lights off late at night.
Switch to Solar Lights
Using solar lights is not only easy on the pocket, but it’s also great for the environment. However, you must make sure that they are charged properly for better performance. The tips mentioned above on how to charge solar lights without sun should help you achieve this.
Do you own solar lights? Do you have other helpful tips on how to charge them effectively? Let us know below!