Do Solar Lights Work In Winter? Solar Lights And Winter

Solar lights are becoming popular lighting solutions because of their benefits over traditional lights. But one might think that Do Solar Lights Work In Winter? In this guide, I will answer this question and will tell you some important things to know about keeping solar lights in winter.

Do Solar Lights Work in Winter Season?

Solar light works in winter as long as it gets enough sunlight. Solar lights can bear snow, ice, and temperature. The only thing they need is light which can be direct sunlight, daylight, or artificial light. As long as the solar lights are receiving enough light to charge them they will keep working.

However, solar light’s performance in winter is affected by temperature, battery performance, placement, availability of sunlight, snow covering, etc.

Continue reading to know how these affect solar light performance in winter.

Does Temperature Affect Solar light performance?

Temperature directly affects the efficiency of solar light panels and batteries. Solar panels work best at temperatures around 25°C that is 77°F. Photovoltaic cells are tested at 25°C and heat can reduce their efficiency by 10-25%.

You can check the temperature tolerance of the solar panel by looking at the temperature coefficient (Pmax) on the panel. It tells us how much efficiency will be reduced by the increase in temperature by 1°C above 25°C. For example, if the coefficient is -25% per 1°C then the power generation will be reduced by 0.25% per 1°C increase in temperature above 25°C.

This means the solar panel performs better in cold temperatures. However, it applies to a certain temperature only, if the temperature become severely cold then efficiency will again start to fall.

The temperature also affects the battery performance. The battery performs better in normal temperatures and is affected by severe temperatures at both ends.

Both solar panels and batteries reduce the performance of solar lights in winter.

Does the Winter Season affect Solar Lights?

Winter season does affect solar lights but not greatly if there is the availability of sunlight in your region. Solar lights do not use the heat of the sun instead it utilizes light from the sun, as long as solar lights are getting direct or indirect sunlight they will keep working.

Generally, solar light’s performance is reduced in winter for various reasons including availability of sunlight, battery performance in winter, and snow covering the panel.

Availability of Sunlight in Winter

In winter, days become shorter and nights become longer so there is less availability of sunlight in winter. Solar lights charge by using sunlight, more sunlight means more power and less sunlight means less power.

So solar light’s performance will be reduced due to less availability of sunlight.

Battery Performance in Winter

Another factor that affects solar light performance in winter is batteries. The performance of batteries is affected badly by cold temperatures so does the solar lights.

The chemical reaction inside batteries gets slowed down in cold temperatures causing batteries to drain faster.

Effects of Snow on Solar Lights

The third factor affecting the performance of solar light is snow. In winter snow gathers on the solar light panel and blocks the sunlight hitting the panels surface. Sunlight still passes through the thin layer of ice or snow and your solar light will get charged but the amount of sunlight is reduced greatly and it takes very long to charge. If there is thick snow then the light can be blocked completely.

This snow coverage along with shorter days causes solar lights to perform badly.

Why Are My Solar Lights Not Lasting the Whole Night in Winter?

If your solar lights are not lasting the whole night then these might be the reasons.

  • In winter the days are shorter and there is less availability of sunlight to charge your solar lights.
  • In winter snow usually gathers on the solar light panel and blocks the sunlight. Due to snow coverage solar lights don’t fully charge.
  • Batteries drain faster in cold temperatures.

Any one or all of these can be the problems with your solar lights.

How Long Will Solar Lights Work in Winter?

Generally, solar lights are built by considering all weather conditions. For every hour of charging they can illuminate for 1 to 3 hours. In winter, there are few hours of sunlight and batteries also drain faster. So the solar lights will illuminate for a shorter period in winter than in summer.

The quality of solar light also matters in how long it will work. Good-quality solar light uses high-efficiency panels and good-quality batteries making them work longer.

Are Solar Lights Effective in Winter?

Solar lights are an effective solution for your lighting needs in winter if you get enough sunlight. Solar lights do work in winter. They need sunlight to function either direct or indirect. Since solar lights receive sunlight in winter they will be able to illuminate your outdoor areas. However, they might not be as efficient as in the summer.

You can buy solar lights with motion sensors. These types of solar lights illuminate only when they are needed and will last longer than dusk to dawn lights.

How to Charge Solar Lights in Winter?

The best way to charge solar light is by using direct sunlight. If direct sunlight is not enough in winter then you can charge solar lights using indirect sunlight also known as daylight. Solar light just needs light to produce power, it can be sunlight or artificial light.

You can charge solar lights without the sun using artificial lights like LEDs, incandescent bulbs, or fluorescent bulbs. Solar lights ought to be charged using sunlight as the name suggests but if sunlight is not enough to charge solar lights then you can use artificial light because something is better than nothing.

Don’t use artificial light just to charge solar lights as it will cost you electricity and the purpose of using solar light will die. But if you are already using artificial lights for other purposes then you can place solar light near them.

Alternative Charging Options in Winter

Many solar lights come with alternate charging options like USB ports and plugging in. If your region gets a long winter season then you can consider buying solar light with those features.

How to Get Good Performance from Solar Lights in Winter?

You can get relatively good performance from solar lights in winter by following these easy steps.

Buy Solar Lights with Special Features for Winter

If you face long winter then buy solar lights with special features. These solar lights are built to last longer. The features include power saving mode which increases the operation time of solar lights by decreasing their brightness, and larger solar panels to gather more sunlight.

Another feature worth mentioning is a motion sensor. Solar light with motion sensors illuminate only when it detects motion. They are turned off all the time and illuminate only when needed. This increases their operation time.

Adjust Your Solar Light Location

Your solar lights should get maximum sun exposure to perform better. The sun is not in the same place all year. The sun keeps moving all year round. In winter the sun becomes lower in the sky. It rises from the south of the east and sets in the south of the west. This causes new shadows to appear that you never thought about in the summer.

You need to change your solar light’s location so that they get uninterrupted sun exposure.

Change Solar Light Angle

Since the sun is lower in the sky you will need to change the angle of the solar light’s panel if possible. Most solar lights have the option to adjust the panel’s angle. Tilt the solar light’s panel to make a 90° angle between the panel and sunlight rays. The solar panels get the maximum amount of light when they are perpendicular to the sun.

Since the sun is low in the sky you will have to increase the angle of inclination of solar light’s panel. This will give you another benefit, the snow, and ice will not block the solar panel’s surface and will easily slide over the surface of the solar panel.

Keep Your Solar Lights Clean

Check your solar lights regularly and clean them. In winter snow and ice start to build up on solar panels which blocks the light exposure. Keep an eye on your solar lights to see any ice or snow and clean it to get a good performance from your solar lights.

Further reading: A Step-by-Step Guide to Clean Your Solar Lights

Charge Solar Lights with Other Sources

To get good performance from solar lights in winter you might need to charge solar lights using other sources because there is not enough availability of sunlight. You can use artificial light and alternative charging options like USB or plug-in. I have already explained this in detail above.

Take Away

Solar lights can work in winter as long as they receive enough sunlight, either direct or indirect. However, their performance may be affected by factors like temperature, battery efficiency, limited sunlight availability, and snow covering the panels.

To optimize their performance, choose high-quality solar lights designed for winter conditions, adjust their position and angle for maximum sun exposure, keep them clean from snow and ice, and consider alternative charging options.

Hyder Ali is a writer from Pakistan who writes well researched articles on different topics. He has been writing on Medium and other platforms for a long time. He tries his best to write correct information and help his readers solve their problems.

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