Avasolar is reader-supported. When you buy via our links, we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Learn more

How Do Solar Lights Work? – Solar Light Explained

Written by K. Miller / Fact checked by J. Fussell

how do solar lights work

Illuminating indoor and outdoor areas at dusk can be energy-efficient with the use of solar lights. The initial cost of such light sources can help you save bucks over the course of time. Plus, there’s no need for you to deal with complicated wiring and pricey electricity costs.

Have you ever wondered how solar powered lights work? These small lights work by absorbing adequate sunlight and transforming it into light during sunset. Uncovering more about good solar lights and how they execute their functions can be helpful before installing one.

In this article, we’ll discuss how do solar lights work for homes and workplaces.

What are Solar Lights Made of

Such lights are generally composed of four primary parts: control electronics, battery, light fixture, and solar panel. The panel absorbs enough sunlight and generates electrical energy. You can store this energy in a battery or use it right away.

The main objective of most solar lights is to diffuse power at night. Hence, they must be capable of attaching to a battery or must consist of a battery. The battery should be built to last and does not require frequent replacements.

Indeed, the emergence of LED lights has significantly minimized the capacity requirements of both the battery and solar panel. They utilize less energy compared to other forms of lighting. Fundamentally, the battery and solar panel can be less expensive, portable, and smaller.

Meanwhile, the control electronics are necessary to shift the energy around the solar panel system. They are also beneficial in keeping the system secure and safe. Outdoor solar lights with a light sensor commonly illuminate automatically at night.

Some solar lights crafted for reading would switch off during daytime periods to conserve the solar charge. However, these lights won’t switch on until the user powers them on.

How Do Solar Lights Work


It is the photovoltaic effect that contributes to a solar light working. The most critical component of a solar light is the solar or photovoltaic cell. The solar cell refers to the component that converts sunlight into a direct electrical current.

In addition, solar cells are the dusky panels that are situated at the top section of the solar light. They comprise chemicals and multiple layers of crystalline silicon that create layers of positively charged spaces and negatively charged electrons.

When the sun penetrates the solar cell, it energizes the negatively charged electrons and incites them into positively charged spaces. Afterward, the positively charged spaces move the stream of electrons as DC energy wired directly into the solar cells or to the battery, where energy is kept until you use it.

Meanwhile, the battery charges during the entire daytime as the sun’s rays continue to be transformed into electricity. When darkness comes, the solar cells halt in transforming sunlight as it dwindles and eventually vanishes.

A photoreceptor on the light can discern when it’s dark outside and switches the light on. From there, the battery delivers power to the light from dusk to dawn. Such a process repeats daily.

During daylight, solar power is transformed into electricity and kept in the battery. The battery delivers the power to the solar-operated light at sunset until it’s consumed, or the photoreceptor turns off the light as daylight appears.

Sufficient sunlight is needed to charge the batteries entirely. This isn’t an issue during summer seasons so long as the solar light is positioned where it could receive direct sunlight all the time.

Avoid placing the solar lights in the shade, trees, or somewhere where there’s an obstruction to maximum sun exposure. Otherwise, this can affect the charging efficiency of the solar light.

During winter seasons, a solar-powered light might not be quite efficient at capturing solar energy to charge the battery and remain lit at dusk adequately. Such conditions emerge because, during winter seasons, days are shorter, and nights are longer.

As a result, solar lights have fewer hours of sun exposure to charge the battery. Further, winter seasons commonly bring snow that could obstruct the solar cell and inhibit efficient charging during the daytime.

How Can I Take Proper Care of My Garden Solar Lights

Make sure that you clean the solar fixtures with extra care. One of the best methods is to utilize a soft cloth and clean water. Keep in mind that it is also necessary to avoid using chemical-based detergents since these cleaning agents can bring about streaks or marks. As a result, it will be more difficult for the solar panels to charge efficiently.

You will need to clean your solar-powered garden lights periodically to get rid of the accumulated mud and dust. In doing so, you can ensure that they can instantly store power for night use.

And, since solar lights do not work excellently during overcast or winter periods, storing them indoors during snowy or rainy seasons can prolong their service life.

You might want to turn the lights to the “off” position when not in use and keep them safe and secure. Turning off your lights at least once a month is beneficial. Solar lights can still charge when switched off, and the delightful news is that they could charge more excellently.

Regularly switching off the solar lights does an outstanding job of maintaining them properly to ensure that they will work efficiently. This approach is called “deep charge.”

Meanwhile, you might want to check out this video about cleaning, restoring, and renewing solar-operated lights:

Charging Your Solar Light with LED Lights

You can utilize a LED light to charge your solar-powered light. Generally speaking, you’ll obtain a similar result; LED lights are adept at covering a broader range, which may charge it more efficiently than an incandescent bulb.

This is ideal when you’re outdoors and require charging your solar light right away.

How Long Do Solar-Powered Lights Last

Solar lights efficiently work in different locations, particularly in places where access to electricity is scarce. Environmentally friendly and portable solar lights can be excellent replacements for standard lights and an excellent alternative for a geographic location with limited or no access to an electrical grid.

When you place the solar-operated lights in the right spot to absorb optimal sun exposure, the batteries obtain the maximum charge. This is commonly adequate to keep the light on between twelve and fifteen hours.

A small solar light usually requires 8 hours of sun exposure during the daytime to get fully charged. A shady spot or overcast day can restrict illumination time at sunset. Moreover, it could be challenging to receive a full charge during the winter.

What Makes Solar-Operated Lights Worthwhile Investments


For homeowners, business people, and buyers looking to save money on electricity bills, going solar is a practical solution. Installing solar lights at home, garden or in workplaces won’t merely adorn your place but also supply it with sufficient lighting.

A few of the perks of installing these eco-friendly lights:

Cost Savings

Since solar-operated lights primarily rely on the energy that the solar panels absorb from the sun, you won’t have to worry about complex wiring, consuming, and paying for more electricity.

In most cases, you don’t need to spend lavishly on pricey battery replacements or fuel sources.


When you use these lights, you can enjoy more hours of study or work even when darkness comes. In addition, you can spend more time enjoying good times with loved ones or friends.

On the other hand, solar security lights give you more peace of mind because you can walk safely at night.


Solar lighting products are ideal for the environment as they reduce our carbon footprint on the planet where we live. Likewise, they minimize indoor air pollution.

Safe to Use

They are worthwhile investments because they can ensure safety while in use. Unlike standard lighting options, solar lighting products are safer since they can reduce the risks of burns and fires.

Built to Last

Solar lighting products generally have a long lifespan. While the initial cost can be slightly high, since you can use them for an extended period, they are economical options in the long run.

Final Thoughts

By and large, using solar-operated lights can offer you numerous benefits. However, before going solar, there are lots of factors that you need to take into account. It is also critical to unveil how do solar lights work and the best ways to care for and maintain them.

Bear in mind that you can extend the service life of your solar-operated lights by:

  • Installing the lights in a garden or other location where there is maximum sun exposure
  • Cleaning the lights periodically but avoid using chemical-based cleaning agents
  • Turning them off once a month and storing them in a safe place

Undoubtedly, using solar energy can help you save electricity, enjoy more freedom, safety, and support a green lifestyle.

5/5 - (5 votes)