Author Topic: Solar Landscape lights that last?  (Read 747 times)

BudgetSlasher

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Solar Landscape lights that last?
« on: October 11, 2020, 09:15:16 AM »
Has anyone had good luck with solar powered landscape lighting? If so, do you mind sharing what has worked, either the brand or the model?

Since we are spending more time at home and as it is getting dark earlier by the day and the upcoming time change will make it dark even earlier I would like to add some new outside lighting. There are some places where solar powered landscape lights would be a great solution; ideally they would last until 9 or 10 at night and automatically come on when the sun goes down, which can be as early as 4. The problem is every solar landscape light I have tried in the past works great for a period of time, lasting from a couple weeks to maybe a year, then they quickly stop shining as late into the night. Ultimately they are dim even right after the sun goes down. I have tried a couple different brands, styles, and price points, though it has been a while since my last attempt.

So are there any units that have the longevity to last years?

SunnyDays

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2020, 03:45:28 PM »
I have a bunch of the larger spike type lights with flat round heads with the solar charger in the centre (2 different kinds and no idea what brands).  They are at least 5 years old and still work fine.  The trick is to make sure they get enough sun during the day to fully charge the battery, so as the days get shorter, you might need to move them into the sun in the daytime.  I bought a couple of motion activated deck lights (Noma) that Iíve mounted on the fence a few months ago and theyíre doing fine so far too.  On the other hand, I put up 2 post lights many years ago that worked about a year, then when I had to change the dead batteries, they didnít work at all because the batteries didnít seem to be making proper contact.  So it does seem to be a bit of a crapshoot, but well known brands might be better quality.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2020, 11:01:07 AM by SunnyDays »

katsiki

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2020, 03:53:59 PM »
We have had good luck with these but it has only been about 4 months.  They are sturdy (spike and other materials) and it is real glass.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Q8K2X4N/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

They are more expensive than the cheaper, plastic ones I bought in the past from Harbor Freight, Amazon, etc.  Maybe you get what you pay for..

Good luck!

lutorm

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2020, 04:30:55 PM »
I'm interested in this as well as the ones we got from Home Depot has a 6/6 failure rate after <2 years. Certainly one of the problems with them is that the solar cell is encased in some clear plastic, I suspect epoxy resin, and it does not handle the UV exposure but will quite quickly start going opaque. Now, how someone can think that covering a solar cell with a material that can't handle sun exposure is a good idea is beyond me, it seems to indicate a complete focus on cheapness. Like someone said, make sure the solar cell is covered in glass.

The other problem with them is that they have LiMH batteries which have a fairly short lifespan and start to self-discharge quickly when they get old. So not only are you getting less power because the solar cell is obscured, but the battery is also losing more of that charge. Li-ion batteries, while more expensive, typically handle this better (but have other problems, like they don't like to get hot.)

I've also concluded that the "bollard" lights that have the solar cell integrated with the light is suboptimal. Yes, you don't have to worry about any cabling, but because they are so low to the ground it's hard to get good solar exposure unless your yard is a desert landscape.

We also got one of these a year ago and because they have a separate solar cell (with glass and Li-ion battery) it's much easier to place such that it get a full charge. On the other hand you have to deal with the cable, which the yard guys cut with a weed whacker last week...

lthenderson

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2020, 08:33:11 AM »
Has anyone had good luck with solar powered landscape lighting? If so, do you mind sharing what has worked, either the brand or the model?

So are there any units that have the longevity to last years?

In my opinion, this is like trying to find a unicorn. Just the nature of solar cell technology and price points people are willing to spend for such things mean that none will last for a long enough time to be a great deal. Installing low voltage landscape lighting on the other hand, has gotten much easier and there are solutions for just about every problem you run into in a typical lawn. The fixture itself will last your lifetime and all you have to worry about is changing the LED lightbulb every handful of years or longer.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2020, 11:02:49 AM »
I've had good luck with the Home Depot Hampton Bay solar landscape lights, e.g. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Hampton-Bay-45-Lumens-Solar-Black-Outdoor-LED-Landscape-Spotlight-NXT-1775B/310424635

hdatontodo

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2020, 12:02:20 PM »
I've had good luck with the Home Depot Hampton Bay solar landscape lights, e.g. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Hampton-Bay-45-Lumens-Solar-Black-Outdoor-LED-Landscape-Spotlight-NXT-1775B/310424635
I got 3 of these $20 Post Cap lights from HD. I didn't want to spend this much, but my neighbor's cheaper ones didn't throw out much light.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Hampton-Bay-Solar-Powered-Outdoor-Mediterranean-Bronze-Integrated-LED-3000K-Warm-White-Landscape-Post-Cap-Light-84044/301712159

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EricEng

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2020, 02:33:53 PM »
I'm interested in this as well as the ones we got from Home Depot has a 6/6 failure rate after <2 years. Certainly one of the problems with them is that the solar cell is encased in some clear plastic, I suspect epoxy resin, and it does not handle the UV exposure but will quite quickly start going opaque. Now, how someone can think that covering a solar cell with a material that can't handle sun exposure is a good idea is beyond me, it seems to indicate a complete focus on cheapness. Like someone said, make sure the solar cell is covered in glass.

The other problem with them is that they have LiMH batteries which have a fairly short lifespan and start to self-discharge quickly when they get old. So not only are you getting less power because the solar cell is obscured, but the battery is also losing more of that charge. Li-ion batteries, while more expensive, typically handle this better (but have other problems, like they don't like to get hot.)
My experience as well.  None of them seem to last more than a couple years and none throw out a decent amount of light.  Better solution would be run some wires if at all possible.  I've been happy with dusk to dawn bulbs in my outdoor fixtures.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2020, 07:07:10 AM »
None of them seem to last more than a couple years and none throw out a decent amount of light.

Lumen ratings are key. The ones I got are 45 lumens (on par with many wired fixtures) and going on 2 years. Anything below 15 lumens isn't worth bothering with for decent light output.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2020, 12:15:13 PM »
Has anyone had good luck with solar powered landscape lighting? If so, do you mind sharing what has worked, either the brand or the model?

So are there any units that have the longevity to last years?

In my opinion, this is like trying to find a unicorn. Just the nature of solar cell technology and price points people are willing to spend for such things mean that none will last for a long enough time to be a great deal. Installing low voltage landscape lighting on the other hand, has gotten much easier and there are solutions for just about every problem you run into in a typical lawn. The fixture itself will last your lifetime and all you have to worry about is changing the LED lightbulb every handful of years or longer.

Thank you for the suggestion, I have done low voltage for short runs near the house and willingly would do so on short runs near the house and in soil that was easy to work.

In my original post I decided to omit details for 2 reasons, they did not seem entirely necessary and I do not have a solid plan (I'm trying to figure out what options are out there before I spend too much time deciding where exactly to place lights).

But, since it might bring some clarity ... If I had a good option I would consider adding some lighting not just near the house, but toward the end of the driveway and outback. There are two problems: 1) Distances of multiple hundreds of feet and voltage drop. and 2) The soil is a rocky PIA to dig in.

Even at line voltage (120v) some of the "would be nice" areas of the property would likely have a materials cost in the hundreds of dollars just in wiring for power supply (depending on amperage and tolerable voltage drop). And then multiple hundreds of feet of cable to properly route (buried in rocky clay based soil).

So, in light of that I guess my price point might not be the same as what most people are willing to spend for a few lights around the deck.

I am not sure exactly how to phrase what I am looking for in terms of information. My best attempt is I am looking to find out what a durable and reliable stand alone solar light costs, if such a thing is even manufactured. At which point I can decide if it is worth it to me to using as part of my plan or not; I am not certain I know exactly where the dollar cut off is between worth it and not lighting that area.

BDWW

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2020, 02:41:56 PM »
Quote
In my opinion, this is like trying to find a unicorn. Just the nature of solar cell technology and price points people are willing to spend for such things mean that none will last for a long enough time to be a great deal

Quote
My best attempt is I am looking to find out what a durable and reliable stand alone solar light cost

Lots of reliable solar lights exist, but they are generally far outside the price points most people will pay. Just search for industrial, sign, flagpole or parking lot solar lights.

Generally start north of $100 and go into the multiple 1000s depending on what your looking for.


BudgetSlasher

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2020, 06:19:43 PM »
Quote
In my opinion, this is like trying to find a unicorn. Just the nature of solar cell technology and price points people are willing to spend for such things mean that none will last for a long enough time to be a great deal

Quote
My best attempt is I am looking to find out what a durable and reliable stand alone solar light cost

Lots of reliable solar lights exist, but they are generally far outside the price points most people will pay. Just search for industrial, sign, flagpole or parking lot solar lights.

Generally start north of $100 and go into the multiple 1000s depending on what your looking for.

Do you have a suggestion of where to look or brands to look at? Multiple 1000s is out, but north of 100 ... well the wire alone (UF-B w/o conduit) would cost multiple hundreds of dollars to run to some of the would-like-to locations.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2020, 10:08:19 AM »
From my experience would be better to use solar flashlights.

Do you mean carry a solar flashlight when outside or do you a diy somehow using solar flashlights as fixed lighting?

Carrying any flash light, which we have a few of is an option and it partially what we do now, along with some exterior flood lights by the house. But it still leaves things off the would-be-nice list, or at least DW's version of such.

BDWW

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Re: Solar Landscape lights that last?
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2020, 11:19:22 AM »
I believe the brand of solar bollard (pedestal lamps) we have at our work are "Solera".  We built the building in 2015, and they are running strong still. I think they're a commercial sales only thing though. i.e. you can't just buy them on Amazon.