how do solar lights work

How Do Solar Lights Work: Understanding the Science Behind It

Decades ago, if someone told you that you could power lights by using sunlight, it would have sounded like science fiction. Today, this is a reality you see almost every day. We are sure you have spotted solar panels on rooftops of buildings and houses and even on some city lights.

Have you ever wondered, though, how do solar lights work? Is it some kind of sorcery? Well, we can say that there is no magic involved; it’s just pure science.

If you are like us who are always curious to know how things work, then you have landed on the right page! We aim to talk about the exact science behind how exactly these fantastic lights work with the help of the sun!

What Are Solar Lights?

Nowadays, more and more people are switching to solar energy as it is more economical. Solar lights are one such product powered not by the electricity you use at home but entirely by the help of sunlight. This makes them absolutely free to use and is also good for the environment.

How Do Solar Lights Work?

The main concept behind how solar lights work is through the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic or the solar cell is an important part of the solar light.

It is this part of the light that can convert the light from the sun into direct electrical current. The solar cell is clearly visible on top of solar light as a dark panel, often referred to as a solar panel.

The solar cell is made up of several layers. These layers include crystalline silicone along with chemicals that can create layers of negatively charged electrons and positively charged spaces.

As the light from the sun passes through the solar cell, it will excite the negatively charged electrons and then push them into the positively charged spaces. These spaces will then transfer the electron stream as a direct current of electricity through the wires embedded inside the solar cell to the battery where this electricity gets stored till the point when it is needed. This battery is charged through the whole day since the sunlight continuously gets converted into electricity.

Once the sun starts to set, the solar cell will stop converting the light from the sun as it begins to get weak and then disappears eventually. A photoreceptor on the light will then detect that it is turning dark and signal the light to kick in. This is typically made of several light-emitting diodes, more commonly known as LEDs.

The charged battery will then supply electricity to the light until the sun rises again. The entire process is repeated on a daily cycle.

In a nutshell, through the whole day, the light from the sun gets converted into electricity and gets stored in the battery. When the sun sets, and it becomes dark, this charged battery will supply electricity to the light until the sun rises again or until the battery gets completely used up.

how do solar lights work

Do Solar Lights Work Better During Certain Times of the Year?

It is quite clear from the way solar lights work that it needs to have a good amount of sunlight for it to charge the battery fully. This is not much of a problem for people who live in an area with a lot of heat. The same can be said during the summer months since the solar panels can receive a good amount of sunlight.

If you live in such areas, make sure that the light is not covered by bushes or trees, as that will create shade and will affect the charging process, which ultimately affects how the light works.

However, a lot of people live in areas where there is a lack of sunlight throughout the day. The same problem is encountered during the winters. Such situations will definitely affect the solar light since it will be incapable of receiving the necessary light from the sun to charge the batteries sufficiently, which is needed to illuminate through the whole night.

Winters tend to have shorter days, and this results in lesser hours of sunlight and lesser time for the solar light to charge. What makes this worse is that winters in certain places can come with snow.

Snow can end up blocking the solar cell, which ultimately prevents the battery from charging throughout the day. Be prepared to take certain measures during such times if you still need your solar light to work.

We have also published another article where we talk at length about how you can charge your solar light in indirect sunlight or with no sunlight. We recommend that you check out that article too to know more.


Now, you exactly know how do solar lights work. Solar lights are a brilliant way for you to save some money on electric bills and to do good with the environment. We highly recommend you share this newfound knowledge to let everyone know how solar lights work so that more and more people get motivated to switch to solar lights as much as they can!

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