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What is a Solar Lamp?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 23, 2024
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Solar lamps are lights that are powered by the sun's rays. They are usually portable fixtures that have a solar panel located at the top, along with an LED battery. The battery is charged, during the day, by absorbing solar rays and storing them. At dusk, these lights then turn on automatically, and shut off in the morning when the sun comes up again.

The most common type of solar lamp is used outdoors, in garden landscaping, along walkways, or around ponds. These are generally attached to a metal or plastic stake, which is stuck directly in the ground. The top of this outdoor solar lamp often resembles a lantern or street light, with a small bulb inside to project light.

An indoor solar lamp normally has a light that emits a brightness equivalent to 40 watts. It can be used as an accent light or desk light. These indoor solar lamps can be placed in a window that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day to charge it fully.

Solar flashlights are another type of solar lamp. This flashlight is somewhat flat compared to a regular one. It typically has a solar panel along one end that collects solar rays from the sun. This stored energy is then used to power multiple LED bulbs on the flashlight's lens during the evening hours or in dark places, like caves.

Solar lamps usually need little maintenance to perform well. These lights have few working parts, so the only thing that may need to be replaced is a battery or bulb. They can easily be cleaned with soap and water, and should last for several years.

Unlike electrically-powered lights, there is no need to be concerned about solar lamps being exposed to the elements. The bulb is usually tightly encased inside the lamp fixture, and should not get wet even during a heavy downpour. The battery of the solar lamp is also designed to resist moisture. These lights are safe to use during an electrical storm and, best of all, they will illuminate even if there is an interruption of electrical service.

While available all year, solar lamps are displayed most prominently by retailers during the spring and summer months. They are usually located in the landscape section of lawn and garden or home improvement stores. Solar flashlights can be purchased in outdoor and camping supply stores. These lights are inexpensive, decorative, and easy to use. Purchasing solar lights for indoor, outdoor, or camping use can be a wise investment.

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Discussion Comments
By Phaedrus — On Feb 04, 2015

I have a line of outdoor solar lamps leading from the driveway to the front door. They really come in handy during the winter months, when it gets really dark by 5 or 6 o'clock. I can easily see the path when I step out of the car.

By Buster29 — On Feb 03, 2015

When my church decided to participate in a "help the homeless" project, I suggested we buy some inexpensive outdoor solar lamps. The chairman of the committee asked me why we should spend our money on something that sounded frivolous to him. I said that many homeless people live in tents in wooded areas, and obviously they have no electricity. If they leave some solar lamp lights out in the sun all day, they'll have a free way to light those tents at night.

He realized I was onto something, so we ended up buying a crate of inexpensive solar garden lamps from a wholesaler and including them in our homeless survival kits.

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