Method One: Cleaning the solar panel – The solar panel is one of the main components of solar lighting. It’s made up of cells that absorb the energy of the sun to later convert it into battery power. Needless to say, in order for solar light to be effective, they need to be exposed to throughout the course of a day. In time (and especially if your solar lights aren’t inclined), dust, debris, snow, or other stuff can accumulate on the surface of the panel, blocking sunlight from reaching the photovoltaic cells. That can only mean one thing: it’s time to clean them:
If your lights are mounted up high, remove them so you’ll have easier access to the solar panel. If they’re in-ground or on-ground solar lights, you can leave them there. Use a brush to remove any excess debris or whatever is stuck on top of the solar panel. Use a damp cloth and some mild detergent (such as dish soap), and gently scrub the surface of the solar panel. Once the solar panel is clean, use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess water and detergent, leaving the solar panel nice and shiny. Put the solar lighting back in their original position.
NOTE: Your lights can also lose brightness if the light panel is dirty. The light panel is typically made from plastic or glass, and it’s the protective cover that shields the light from the external environment. Using the same steps that we’ve talked about before, make sure that this protection panel is also clean.
How do you make a landscape light brighter?
Austin Landscape Lighting: Why Are My Landscape Lights Dim? Oh yes, this is the age old low voltage lighting question, “Why are my lights dim?” Although there could be a number of reasons for this, the primary and most common culprit is VOLTAGE DROP.
So, what is voltage drop you might ask? Quite simply, it is energy that is lost along a wire due to friction. As the electricity travels down the wire, it meets up with resistance in the wire and loses some of its power. If there is a load on that wire, it loses even more energy. Each load along the way creates even more friction and takes some of the energy.
More loads, more loss of energy. There is a to figure this out which is: (Watts X Length of wire ÷ Cable Constant) X2 = Voltage Drop, Got it? Like a lot of scientific formulas, every component is critical information. Consulting the National Electrical Code, and being familiar with wire will be very helpful when utilizing this formula on your own.
Professional outdoor lighting designers and installers know this formula by heart. Most DIY folks who install lighting themselves, often using a box store lighting kit, will run into this problem. The kit instructs the installer to run a wire from the transformer, and connect the light fixtures along the way in what we call the “daisy chain” wiring method.
The homeowner finds that the first light is bright and looks good, while each additional light on the chain gets dimmer and dimmer. If there are enough lights on that chain of wire, all of the lights may be dim – and the last light may not work at all.
- This is because each of those lights along the way takes power out of that wire, leaving less and less energy at the end of the line.
- This would be a very long post if I went into each and every scenario of voltage drop and its remedy, so I’ll spare you from that.
- But I will give you the most common fixes to lessen the effects of voltage drop.
First, you may just need larger wire. Next option is to look at a different wiring method. In some cases, you might need to do both. If you increase the size of the wire, you are allowing the electricity to flow with less resistance and, therefore, lower the amount of voltage drop to each light.
DO NOT overload the wire you choose to use. Know the amount of load (amps) the wire is rated to handle. For example: 12 gauge wire is rated for 20 amps, 14 gauge wire is rated for 15 amps. Adapt your wiring method and/or number of fixtures per wire to meet the limitations of the wire. By using fewer lights on a wire, you decrease the resistance and lower the voltage drop. Be sure to make good, solid, waterproof, Those pierce-point connectors that come with that DIY lighting kit will allow water to get into your wire causing corrosion, which in turn will increase the resistance and voltage drop, ultimately ending in system failure.
We use professional series transformers with higher voltage taps, going up to 15 volts, which also help us deal with the very common voltage drop animal. The transformer, the wire, the wiring method and the load all contribute to the voltage drop that we see in low voltage lighting systems.
Knowing how to insure that each fixture gets the voltage it needs to operate at its best is where the outdoor lighting professional can really help, saving you tremendous aggravation and providing a well-balanced lighting system that will look beautiful for years. We do not work on the type of landscape lighting products that can be purchased at the home improvement stores.
But if you are in the central Texas/Highland Lakes area and have these problems with a professional grade outdoor lighting system, we would be happy to fix the voltage drop problems for you. Just, : Austin Landscape Lighting: Why Are My Landscape Lights Dim?
Do solar lights have different brightness?
Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor Using solar lighting outdoors can be a lifesaver when outdoor outlets are not available. But do solar-powered lights really work? How do they measure up to hardwired electric lights? And what if your yard is shady or you live somewhere that rarely sees the sun? Here’s the full scoop on choosing and using solar-powered lights in your yard.
How solar lighting works. Photovoltaic cells absorb sunlight during the day to charge the batteries, which then light the bulb at night. Because solar lights are powered by the sun, they must be placed in an area that receives full sun — ideally eight or more hours per day. What if you don’t have direct sun? If you are putting solar lights in your desert yard in Tucscon or Palm Springs, they are sure to operate at maximum strength — but what if you live in Seattle or simply have a heavily shaded yard? It’s not quite as simple, but you can still have solar-powered lights, even in a fully shaded area.
A solar or landscape lighting pro can help position a remote photovoltaic panel on your roof or in a sunnier area of your yard, which can then be wired to the lights in the shady area. If there simply isn’t much sunlight to be gathered, even on the roof (for example, you live somewhere like Seattle or Portland), the solar lights will still work, but they won’t shine as brightly or for as long each evening.
- Types of Solar Lights Solar path lights.
- These are small solar lights on stakes, which can be pushed into the ground alongside a walkway to softly illuminate the path at night.
- They are not as bright as electric path lights, so plan to use more (up to twice as many) to light your path with roughly the same glow as electric.
Get help: Work with a local landscape architect Where to use solar path lights. Solar path lights are ideal for illuminating walkways far from exterior outlets, and can provide an enchanting glow along winding garden paths. Ambient and decorative solar lights.
Decorative solar lights, including colorful blown glass, decorative lanterns and string lights, are not as bright as solar path lights. However, used in multiples or alongside path lights and spotlights, they can provide a warm ambient glow. Where to use ambient solar lights. Place a few handblown glass solar lights on stakes in your garden beds for soft landscape lighting.
Or hang solar string lights, like the charming mason jar lights shown here, over an outdoor dining table for a welcoming touch at your next gathering. Solar-powered spotlights. The brightest solar lights available are called task lights or spotlights, and the best ones can provide light that’s roughly equivalent to a 40-watt incandescent bulb.
That is still not as bright as a typical outdoor spotlight, so you may want to double or triple up in areas where you want bright, direct light. Where to use solar spotlights. Motion-sensing solar spotlights can be used near doors and in the driveway. Spotlights can also be placed in the garden, with the beam of light directed at a tree or another landscape feature.
Pay attention to the hue. Since most solar-powered lights today use LED bulbs, the light they emit is bright white. If you want the look of incandescent bulbs, look for solar lights with tinted covers — they may be labeled “amber” or “soft white.” You get what you pay for.
- The brightness of a solar light depends on the brightness of the sun and the amount of daylight it is exposed to — but it also depends on the quality of the photovoltaic cells and the size of the LED bulb.
- Higher-quality photovoltaic cells and larger LED bulbs tend to cost more, so to a certain extent, the higher-priced solar lights do tend to shine more brightly.
Browse photos of landscapes illuminated by solar lights
Why are my outdoor lights so dim?
Final Thoughts – Dim landscape lights can be a nuisance and ruin your home’s nighttime aesthetics. If you’re having trouble with dim or flickering landscape lights, try cleaning the bulbs to remove any dirt or debris. Replace any burned-out bulbs and check the timer to ensure it’s working properly.
Why Are Your Landscape Lights Blinking? 7 Fixes
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Willie writes on small engine repair, landscaping, and lawn care. He owned a professional lawn care business in Alabama for almost 10 years. Latest posts by Willie Moore ( see all )
Why are my landscape lights dim?
Voltage Drop – How to install landscape lighting – Voltage drop is the decrease in electrical current experienced as electricity travels through a wire, This is most commonly seen as dim light output from your landscape lights, Voltage drop is especially noticeable when many lights are wired in series.
distance of the wire runamount of wattage on the runspacing of fixturesoutput from the transformer size of the low voltage wire quality and placement of connections
In most installations a few simple tips will help you avoid voltage drop issues.