There is no better way to reduce your carbon footprint and save a few dollars a month than using solar-powered lights. However, since solar lights depend on sunlight, some people may have doubts about their effectiveness. How to charge solar lights without the sun?
Do solar lights need direct sunlight?
To answer your question, first you need to understand how lights work
The main component of solar lights is solar panels, which are placed above the lamp. They act as semiconductors that can capture solar radiation (photons) and convert it into electricity.
Solar radiation is everywhere around us and for this reason your lights don’t need direct sunlight to charge.
However, it is essential to mention that although solar lights do not require direct sunlight, it is better to install the lights in a sunny location.
It will maximize exposure to solar radiation and generate more electricity, so your lights will run longer.
Can solar-powered lights work in the shade?
The short answer is yes, the light can be charged in the shade
Shade’ is defined as the comparative darkness/coolness as a result of shielding from direct sunlight.
As you can see, it is therefore a rather broad term that covers a lot of things. The shade can be very dark with almost no light coming through or slightly less bright than in direct sunlight.
The most important is; The less light that passes through, the less chance there is for photons from the light to reach the panel and generate electricity.
So, if your panel is behind a wall that is heavily hidden for an extended period, that is different from being under a tree. A tree causes shade but some light still gets through. You know this because when you walk into a forest, even if all the trees are leafy and there are many trees, you are not sure to fall into absolute darkness.
In detail, when the light is covered by the shade, there is practically not much light, the panel will generate less electricity. And as a result, your lights will dim and stay on for fewer hours at night.
How to charge solar lights without sun?
An experiment on the placement of lights:
I ran several tests with different types of solar lights in different shade situations with all that in mind. For all these situations, I first wait for the battery to drain:
Scenario 1 – Leaving in direct sunlight all-day
Obviously, I was expecting the best results here, I placed the light in the middle of the garden where it got almost 8 hours of sunlight and stayed on all night with no problems.
Scenario 2 – Half day direct sun half-day in total shade
In scenario 2, I put the light in a position where it will receive direct sunlight for about half a day but then when the sun’s position changes, it will be hidden behind the fence.
Again, the light stays on all night, it may not have fully charged the battery, but it has been accused enough to last all night.
Scenario 3 – Under a tree on a sunny day
Still on a sunny day (as above), I placed the light under a large oak tree, thus placing it in the shade most of the day.
The result this time was not satisfactory, the light was still on but turned off after about 4 am
Scenario 4 – A cloudy day, no shade
On a cloudy day with no shade, the lights stay on all night (more than 8 hours).
When purchasing and locating solar lights, the chances are good that the part of your garden receives the most sunlight and where it can collect less.
Solar lights will charge in the shade but it’s best to check the placement of the light so it can get the best sunlight, change the position and see what happens.