Do Solar Lights Work in Winter?

Solar lights are a great environment-friendly solution for your garden and outdoor space. However, when you’re looking for a solar light that will work all year round, including in winter, you need to consider a number of factors.

Both the location where you live and the quality of your solar garden lights will determine how well your solar lights work during winter time.

Over the past decade, supermarket chains and online retailers like Amazon have started to offer incredible value for solar lights. You will usually see a variety of promises on these sites, such as that the lights will work perfectly in winter or that the solar lights will last many years to come.

Unfortunately, most of these promises are not kept due to the low quality of the materials used to manufacture these ‘great value’ solar lights. Therefore, like everything in life, it is sometimes better to spend more money on a quality product than being disappointed by unrealistic expectations when it comes to the performance of solar lights.

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at how solar lights work and at the types of solar lights that work best in winter.

winter sunshine

So, do solar lights work in winter?

During winter time, when weather conditions start to worsen, many people wonder whether their solar lights work properly.

Solar lights work in winter as long as they get enough sunlight during the day. Another key aspect that will determine how well solar lights work in winter is the quality and power of the solar panel, and the batteries used.

Solar lights that use potent solar panels will likely work and charge even on cloudy days to give a decent amount of light output at night. This is why it is fundamental to consider the quality of the solar panel when you browse solar lights for your garden.

solar lights shining bright in a garden

How do solar lights work?

Before evaluating whether your solar lights have the necessary potency to work in winter, it is important to understand how solar lights work.

Essentially, solar lights receive energy from the sun, which is then converted into electricity. This electrical power charges the batteries inside the solar lights.

The solar lights automatically switch on at night time, in the absence of light. Lastly, the solar lights will run on the energy stored by the solar batteries. 

This means that the longer the exposure to the sun is, the more electrical energy will be produced and stored by the solar lights, which will be translated into a brighter lighting source. 

Therefore, if your solar garden lights are not potent enough, it might mean that they will still work in winter but their brightness levels will be reduced. This is because weaker, low-quality solar panels can’t absorb solar energy as efficiently when it’s cloudy or rainy.

Do solar lights need direct sunshine?

One of the most frequent questions from our customers is whether solar lights need direct sunshine to work properly. Though this can depend on some factors, such as the quality of the solar light and panel, there is a scientific answer to this question.

Solar lights don’t need direct sunshine to work efficiently. The panels of solar lights absorb the energy from daylight and not direct sunlight.

However, direct sunlight provides the best conditions for solar lights to operate at their best capacity. This is because sun rays will be less diffused through the clouds allowing for an easier absorption by the solar panels.

direct sunshine in the sky

Solar lights will therefore be brighter during summer months due to the longer exposure to direct sunshine. Though solar lights can still work during winter months, their brightness will likely be reduced due to a lack of direct sunlight. 

In addition, your solar lights might stay on for shorter periods of time in the winter due to the reduced amount of daylight during the cold months. This is why you should opt for a higher-quality solar panel during the winter months.

Are solar lights any good?

Since it can be more challenging for solar lights to operate in winter, especially if you live in the UK or the northern areas of the United States, you may be wondering if solar lights are worth it.

The truth is solar lights are still a great choice, even for winter. To optimise the amount of light output during winter months, you can opt for higher quality solar panels as well as you can test different areas in your garden to find out where your lights will absorb the most solar energy.

Moreover, when it comes to solar lights and their performance, the higher-priced solar lights do tend to shine more brightly.

Since highly-priced solar lights usually have solar panels with higher quality photovoltaic cells, these lights tend to be better at absorbing sun rays, even in the absence of direct sunshine.

All in all, solar lights are a good investment since they are not only an environmentally-friendly solution, but they can also save you money on energy bills in the long term.

solar garden lights with a solar panel

What types of solar lights work best in the winter?

It is important to use the best solar lights in the market for an optimal performance during the winter months.

Below you can find the best types of solar lights for winter as well as some technical aspects you should look out for when you’re browsing for solar lights.

Solar Fairy Lights

Solar fairy lights are a great addition to any garden. The benefit of these solar lights is that their LED bulbs are quite small, which means that they don’t require as much solar power to run.

Our 100 white solar fairy lights have an IP65 rating, which means that they are very well protected against dust and weather conditions. Opting for a solar light with a high IP rating will usually mean that they will perform better since they use higher quality materials. 

Solar Fence Lights

Many of our customers use solar fence lights to not only add ambiance but also an element of security to their outdoor spaces.

The key aspect to consider with these lights is that their LED bulbs are usually a considerable size. Therefore, they require solar panels with high quality photovoltaic cells to give a decent amount of light output.

So, you should avoid cheaply priced options when browsing for solar fence lights as they will likely be much lower quality.

For example, our solar garden fence light with motion sensor is fairly priced at just under £50 (or 69$) considering its high-quality solar panel and high IP rating. 

Solar Decking Lights

Solar decking lights are a modern solution to add an element of luxury and security to your garden, decking or patio.

Since these lights are supposed to shine very bright, it is extremely important to opt for decking lights in the more expensive price range as they will be better quality. You can find decent quality sets of color-changing solar step lights from £35 or 50$.

Another popular option is wireless solar decking lights. These lights are perfect if you're looking for a solution that doesn't require drilling and that is easy to install.

Solar Festoon Lights

Similarly to fence and decking lights, solar festoon lights need a considerable amount of solar power to run properly.

If you live in a country like the UK, where the amount of daylight is extremely reduced during winter months, you will need top-quality solar panels to run these solar lights effectively.

Again, you can find some hints of the quality of the solar lights by looking at the IP rating of the lighting fixture and the size of the solar panel (the bigger, the better). 

On the other hand, if you live in a Mediterranean country like Greece or Croatia, you will likely get enough sunlight to power your solar festoon lights.

Learn more

If this blog post has answered your question or if you would like to learn more about all things related to solar lights, feel free to visit our outdoor lighting blog.

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