Tis the season to put a nice set of solar Christmas lights under the tree.
The benefits of going solar with your holiday string lights are similar to the benefits of other solar lighting:
- You can put the lights anywhere (no outlet required)
- No wiring is necessary
- No electricity costs
- Thanks to LED technology, a full charge can last for days
Most sets also turn on automatically when it gets dark and many have a switch to change from “continuous” to “blink” mode.
The solar panel is usually attached to the light string by five to twelve feet of cord so you can find a nice sunny place for it.
The light sets range from 12′ strands of 30 lights to 40′ strands of 100 lights.
Overall, solar string lights are a great way to harness a little holiday sunshine. They’re convenient, they look nice, and they won’t break the bank.
Powering Christmas lights with the energy of the sun is such a promising idea that cities are even getting in on the solar action.
The City of St. Albert in Alberta, Canada launched a pilot program that saw solar Christmas lights installed at two locations within the city.
The City’s solar light installations will be able to last ten to fifteen days without sun on a full battery charge. If the lights can handle the low temperatures of St. Albert winters, the City hopes to expand its solar light program to more locations.
If you’re looking for solar holiday lights on a large scale, look no further than Rockefeller Center in New York City.
The Center installed 363 170Watt General Electric solar panels on the roof of 45 Rockefeller Plaza to more than offset the electricity used by the 30,000 lights that illuminate the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree for 42 days every year.
This installation provided some great publicity for solar power and also proved that solar energy can be effectively harnessed in large urban areas.
Be aware, though, that winter days get pretty short in the northern latitudes. You will want to make sure you place your solar panel in a spot that will get as much of that precious direct sunlight as possible.
Some people have found that solar Christmas lights work perfectly as summertime party lights but don’t quite get enough sunshine in the winter months. This can lead to the lights only lasting for about four hours per day or not burning brightly enough when illuminated.
Even if your home gets plenty of sun in the winter months, you will also want to be sure that your solar panel is able to face south (or north if you live in the southern hemisphere). This could be an issue if the front of your house faces north and this is where you want to install your Christmas lights.
So, once you make sure you get enough sun during the winter months, take a look at your options for going solar with your holiday lights this Christmas.