Have you ever wondered if you can create a magical winter wonderland right in your front lawn or backyard with solar lights? Answering this question is like asking, can solar lights stay out in winter? The good news is that the right solar outdoor lights can stay outdoors all year round – even in winter.
I know how fascinating it is to adorn your snowy-white landscape with colorful solar lights. So, let us learn more about these lighting fixtures and whether you can use them outdoors in the winter or not.
Can Solar Lights Stay out in Winter
If you were to ask this question a few decades ago when solar lighting was still in its infancy, the answer would have been a resounding NO!
Legacy solar lighting fixtures featured inefficient photovoltaic cells. They can still collect light energy but transform only a small fraction of it into electrical power.
Old-generation rechargeable batteries were also inefficient in storing and holding DC electricity. The power they provide lasts only several hours.
Today, outdoor solar lights feature many advances in photovoltaic cell design and construction, light bulbs, batteries, inductors, and other electronic components. Even the fixture’s housing is now more robust.
That is why many high-end solar landscape lights work all year round. They can be the perfect winter solar lights many people have been waiting to use in their homes.
How Do I Know If My Garden Solar Light Is Perfect For The Wintery Outdoors
Choosing outdoor solar lights that work in winter requires comprehensive research. While manufacturers can put different terms on their labels, it pays to do your homework.
One thing you should look for is weatherproofing. It would be best to get an outdoor solar light with excellent weatherproofing, especially against snow, rain, hailstorm, and strong winds.
You might also want to differentiate between waterproof and water-resistant. A solar light with waterproof housing stays better protected against snow and rain. A water-resistant device may still allow some moisture to ingress.
Ideally, you will want to look at an outdoor solar light’s ingress protection (IP) rating. Each IP rating comes with two numbers – the first one for particulate and foreign body ingress and the second for moisture ingress.
For example, an IP65-rated solar garden light stays protected against dust, dirt, and other particulates. The number ‘5’ describes this device’s ability to withstand occasional wetting from low-pressure jets. In a way, we can consider this product water-resistant.
If you get an IP68-rated solar light, you get the same protection against particulates. However, the device stands a much better chance of lasting in watery or snowy conditions. The number ‘8’ in the IP rating denotes the product’s ability to withstand continuous and complete water submersion.
Will It Work In The Snow Or Cloudy Days
Rain or shine, today’s garden solar lights work. However, it would be best not to expect its solar energy-transforming capabilities on cloudy days as efficient as during bright days.
Today’s photovoltaic cells are more sensitive to light that some high-end units can even absorb light coming from the moon at night. However, reduced lighting conditions also reduce the amount of light a solar power system can turn into electricity.
The reduced power generation can affect the amount of energy stored in the rechargeable battery. If a solar system can charge a solar battery in six hours under intense direct sunlight, it may require a much longer time to recharge the same battery on cloudy days.
If not, there is a chance that not enough electricity is present in the battery. Instead of your solar light illuminating your lawn or garden for eight to ten hours, it may only be able to do so in four to six hours.
As mentioned, modern outdoor solar lights have exceptional weatherproofing. Even if it is snowing heavily, it still collects visible light from different sources.
So, do solar lights work in winter? Of course, they do. However, their illumination may not last that long if the battery does not get sufficient charge during the day.
If snow covers the solar lighting fixture, it may not collect adequate sunlight through the compacted snow. However, if only a thin film of ice builds up on the solar panel’s surface, the system can still gather solar energy because ice and snow are transparent.
How Long Will Outdoor Solar Lights Shine In Winter
Modern solar lights are more efficient than their predecessors. While older solar light models will illuminate for an hour for every four to five hours of charging, today’s devices can light up for 1.5 hours for every hour of charging.
However, you should know this formula is only applicable in ideal conditions: optimum 25-degree Celsius environmental temperature, 25-degree latitude location, and photovoltaic cell efficiency greater than 20 percent.
Ordinarily, outdoor solar lights require eight to twelve hours of uninterrupted direct sunlight exposure to recharge the battery, depending on the dry cell’s capacity.
People living in the north may not have the ideal conditions for powering their solar lights. The Earth has an axial tilt of about 23.5 degrees, shortening the daytime hours in the northern regions during the winter and extending daytime hours in the summer.
For example, if you live in Alaska’s northernmost town, you might not get sunlight for 67 days during the winter. Charging your solar lights is next to impossible if you call this part of the world your home.
There is also the solar battery you must consider. It is not a secret that batteries show a substantial reduction in their charging capabilities in cold temperatures lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Your dry cell may pack less than the 1.5 volts it should have even after a whole day of sunlight exposure.
How Can I Ensure The Best Possible Solar Light Performance In Winter
If you want to charge solar lights in winter to bring out the best possible performance, you must be diligent enough in repositioning your devices every hour during the day.
Ideally, you will want as much direct sunlight exposure to your solar lights as possible. It would be best to reposition your lighting fixture to follow the sun’s track through the sky.
You might also want to clean your solar panels every chance you get. Clear the solar panels of snow, ice, or any debris that can reduce their light absorption capabilities.
Perhaps the best piece of advice I can give you is to purchase outdoor solar lights designed specifically for winter conditions. Not only do these devices offer the best protection against cold elements. They also have components that optimize the solar light’s ability to collect, convert, and store solar energy.
Can solar lights stay out in winter? Of course, they can. However, you must choose your outdoor solar lighting fixtures wisely, ensuring you get products built for harsh winter conditions. It would also be best to consider a more efficient solar battery, ensuring adequate charge to power up your solar light.
While solar lights stay operational in the winter, their efficiency may not be as great as during the summer. However, positioning and regular solar panel cleaning can optimize your system’s ability to charge the battery and operate the solar light bulb.