Winter is coming!
It’s the season of hot cocoa, cozy blankets, and shorter days.
It’s also the time when many people wonder about the effectiveness of their solar lights.
After all, it’s dark for so much of the day, and it seems like there’s not enough sunlight to power them.
However, solar lights do work in winter, you just have to know how to make them work properly!
In this blog post, we will discuss the best ways to use solar lights in the wintertime.
We’ll also give you some tips on how to keep your solar lights working well even during the coldest months.
How Do Solar Lights Work in Winter?
Solar lights work by converting sunlight into electricity through a photovoltaic cell.
This means that as long as there is sunlight, even on a cloudy day, the solar lights will still be able to absorb some energy and work at night.
During the winter, there may be fewer hours of sunlight, but as long as the solar lights are placed in a spot where they can still receive some sunlight during the day, they will continue to charge and work effectively at night.
However, it is important to note that colder weather can impact the performance of solar lights.
First of all, unlike popular belief, solar panels actually work best in colder temperatures because they lose less energy through heat.
However, the cold weather can slow down the battery’s chemical reactions, so the lights may not shine as brightly or even work at all.
Cold temperatures also make the batteries discharge faster, so your lights won’t last as long in the winter as they do in the summer.
But if that’s your problem, you can always replace your solar light battery with a higher mAh one.
Do Solar Lights Charge on Cloudy Days?
Solar lights can still charge on cloudy or overcast days, although they will not be able to charge as efficiently as they would on a sunny day.
This is because clouds can scatter sunlight, so your solar lights get less direct sunlight.
However, as long as there is some daylight and the solar panels are clean, they will still be able to charge and function without direct sunlight.
In fact, there are even some ways to charge your solar lights without sun!
Should You Bring Solar Lights in During Winter?
It’s advised to bring your solar lights in during winter but this doesn’t mean that they can’t stand harsh weather.
In fact, most solar lights are made of high-quality weatherproof materials that can withstand rain, snow, and wind easily.
But not all solar lights have the same level of weatherproofing.
Some are better than others, so you need to check the product specifications before leaving them outside all winter.
Here is a list of the most common solar lights’ weatherproof ratings:
- IPX4: Solar lights with this rating are only resistant to water splashes, so it’s not recommended to leave them out in winter
- IPX5: These solar lights can withstand low-pressure water jets, so they can handle moderate rain.
- IPX6: Solar lights with this rating can withstand strong, high-pressure water jets, so they can handle heavy rain and snow.
- IPX7: These solar lights can be fully submerged in up to 3ft of water for 30 minutes, making them a great option if you live in a snowy area with heavy rain.
For more information, check this article on how to improve solar light’s water sealing.
It’s important to note that even if your solar lights can handle winter weather, it’s not always worth it to leave them outside.
If they aren’t getting enough sunlight, they won’t be able to charge properly.
And in this case, bringing them inside is more beneficial because it’ll prolong their lifespan and reduce wear and tear.
How Long Do Solar Lights Last in Winter?
Solar lights can last about 4-6 hours in winter, but this depends on the amount of sunlight they receive during the day.
As you know, in winter the days are shorter and there are many clouds in the sky that can block and scatter sunlight.
This means less sunlight for your solar lights to absorb and convert into energy, so their runtime will be shorter than in the summer.
But don’t worry, there are a few things you can do to maximize your solar lights’ runtime during the winter months.
How to Charge Solar Lights in Winter?
In winter, there aren’t as many daylight hours to charge solar lights.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t be charged at all!
It just means that we need to maximize the sunlight they do receive in order to charge them properly.
Here are some tips for charging solar lights in winter:
1. Clean Your Panels
The first and best step to take is to make sure the solar panel is clean and free of any dirt or debris.
Snow, leaves, and dirt can block the panel, preventing it from absorbing sunlight effectively, and as a result, decreasing its charging efficiency.
Simply using a damp cloth or a soft brush to clean off the solar light.
If there are any stubborn spots, try using a mixture of water and a mild detergent like dish soap.
Just make sure to not scratch or damage the panels while cleaning them.
2. Place in Direct Sunlight
The second tip is to make sure the solar lights are placed in direct sunlight during the day.
While solar lights can charge in shade, they will charge much more efficiently in direct sunlight.
This means placing them in an area where they won’t be blocked by trees or buildings during the day.
3. Use a Reflector
If there is no way for the solar lights to be in direct sunlight, try using a reflector like a mirror or a metal sheet to amplify the sunlight and increase their charging efficiency.
Simply place the reflector behind or next to the solar lights during the day, and it will reflect additional sunlight onto the panels.
4. Face your Panels South with a 60° Tilt
Solar panels work best when they are perpendicular to the sunbeam, meaning they should face toward the equator and be tilted at an angle that matches your latitude.
For most locations in North America, this means facing the panels south and tilting them at a 60-degree angle.
This orientation maximizes the amount of sunlight that is hitting the panels and therefore, the solar lights’ charging efficiency.
How to Store Outdoor Solar Lights for Winter?
Although solar lights can stay out in winter, some prefer to store them to prolong their lifespan.
If so, then here are a few tips to help you properly store your solar lights in winter and prevent battery damage:
- Clean your solar lights, then switch them off
- Charge the batteries to 40%, so they can gradually discharge when stored
- Remove the batteries from your solar lights
- Keep them in a cool, dark, and dry location
- Save them in a battery storage box to prevent leaking and rupturing
Does Temperature Affect Solar Lights?
Temperature does affect solar lights, as colder temperatures can decrease their runtime and charging capabilities, while hotter temperatures can cause the batteries to overheat and the solar panel to lose its efficiency.
Can You Leave Solar Lights out in the Rain?
You can leave your solar lights out in the rain, but it is always best to bring them inside during a heavy thunderstorm or harsh winter storm.
Solar lights work in winter, but their runtime and charging efficiency may be decreased due to shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures. However, with a few simple steps like cleaning the panels and facing them toward the sun, you can maximize their efficiency.
And when it comes to storage, removing the batteries and keeping them in a cool, dry place can help prevent damage.
With a little extra care, you can enjoy the convenience and eco-friendliness of solar lights all year round.