When it comes to switching to solar energy in homes, people are usually hesitant. Part of the reason why is their concern about energy inconsistency.
It’s a very justifiable concern. After all, the sun isn’t around all day. Moreover, clouds can take hold of the horizon at any time, right? Well, not so fast. Here’s the shocker: There are ways to charge solar lights without sun!
Of course, sunlight is the optimal source, but not the only one. Before discussing what sources are there to fuel the solar system, let’s break down its components really quickly.
What Are the Main Components of a Solar Energy System?
When presented with that question, solar panels will probably be the first thing to come to mind. That’s because they’re the most visible component. However, there are other important components, like inverters.
The panels convert light into electricity thanks to their photovoltaic cells. The type of electricity these panels produce is DC electricity. That’s unsuitable for powering your home devices. The inverter comes into play and converts that into suitable AC electricity.
Among the components, there are also batteries that store the converted light. Finally, there’s the racking, which is what serves to attach the panels to your roof.
Best Ways to Charge Solar Lights Without Sun
Replace, repair, and reflect. These three constitute the triad by which you can get the most out of your solar lights.
Let’s get acquainted with the first “R”!
1. Replace Sunlight With An Artificial Source
Light, in general, has energy. Sunlight is no different. When it hits a surface, like your body, it transforms into heat—that’s why you feel warm and cozy on the beach! However, solar cells have the capacity to turn this energy into more than heat: into electricity.
Since all light has energy, won’t an artificial source suffice in place of the sun? The answer is yes, It most definitely will.
You can use an incandescent light bulb that has a wire filament, by which it produces light and heat. The heat/light combination makes it a perfect solution for charging solar lights without the sun.
Charging With Artificial Lighting: How Long Will It Take & How to Speed It Up?
Being a “mini-sun”, charging your solar lights using an incandescent light bulb will take more time. Here, placement of your solar panel right underneath the light bulb is critical. Proximity is the only advantage a bulb can have over the sun.
You can also speed up the charging process by using a bulb with higher wattage. Depending on that wattage, and the model of the bulb, the duration may differ. Optimally, you should leave the panel charge for 12 hours.
However, if you’re not already using incandescent light bulbs in your home, we won’t recommend this solution. Alternatively, you can use a LED bulb.
LED Bulbs as Recommended Lighting Sources for Charging Your Solar Panels
LED bulbs have a light spectrum resembling that of the sun. Also, the advantage LED bulbs have is that there are battery-operated versions of them. That enables you to charge your panels even if home lights aren’t accessible at the time.
Thus, this solution is perfect if you’re on the road with the panels, or camping with them.
The charging duration is from 10 to 12 hours. As with incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs won’t be that worthy of an investment if you don’t already have ones. So, are there other artificial lights other than these two that I can use?
Well, there are ones that you should keep your distance from, would you be interested to hear more about those?
Artificial Lights: The Double-Edged Sword That Can Mess With Your Solar Panels
Extreme light sensitivity is the hallmark of the solar cells in your panels. This sensitivity is what makes them pick up on the slightest light rays, and transform them into energy. Artificial lights, such as porch lights and streetlights, become overly intense when in close proximity.
Exposing your panels to such lights in the evening would be hurting to them. That being the case as panels are supposed to be operating at that time, not charging. Thus, such exposure will take its toll on their light sensitivity over time.
Taking care of your panels is key, and that takes us to the next “R”.
2. Repair: Maybe Your Panels Aren’t Receptive Enough!
A dusty solar panel may be as good as a broken one. That’s especially the case if you live in an area with sandstorms. It’s also so if there are lots of birds hovering around. What does this have to do with birds? Well, It doesn’t—it has to do with their droppings!
All of that serves to partially mask the surface of the panels, hugely limiting their receptiveness. Add that to an already cloudy morning, and you get yourself an exceptionally poor performance.
How to Effectively Clean and Maintain Your Solar Lights?
Cleaning your lights is easy and recommended. You can do so with a microfiber cleaning cloth and water. You can use a brush as well. Be very gentle, though. You don’t want to be the reason your panels aren’t working well instead of birds. You can easily slip into being so if you use a detergent.
The use of a detergent can cause streaking on the panels, rendering them less effective in charging. So, hands off the detergent, please! Finally, if you’re on the heels of a sandstorm, you can use a water hose to wash the dust layer off.
3. Reflect: Using Mirrors to Get the Most Out of the Sun
This solution has to do with the positioning of the panels. If they’re in a poorly illuminated spot, and there isn’t a better place, then you can call for the mirrors’ help. They’ll redirect whatever available sun rays onto the surface of your panels for better charging.
That solution should be a last resort, though. That’s because it’ll entail repeatedly repositioning the mirrors, as the sun keeps moving throughout the day.