Because of the many advantages of solar Christmas lights, more and more people are switching to them with each passing year. Manufacturers have responded to the growing demand by producing all types of solar Christmas lights – solar string lights, net lights, icicle lights, path lights and many others. They all vary greatly in size, color, design, wattage and construction. They also vary greatly in quality and many times it is hard for the average consumer to determine if a holiday light is well made or not.
Here are 7 factors to look for to help you save time and make sure you’re getting the best quality solar Christmas lights.
1. Look for lights that can function well in all climates
Some solar Christmas lights on the market are not UV-resistant. This means that in warmer climates with continual exposure to heavy sunlight, the plastic components on the units will start to break down. Look for lights made from UV-resistant nylon materials as these will last much longer in bright sunlight.
On the other extreme, lower quality solar Christmas lights do not have a mechanism in place to conserve battery power in the event of several cloudy days in a row. Once the rechargeable batteries run out and there is no sunlight to recharge them, the solar holiday lights won’t work. They’ve effectively run out of “juice”. Higher quality solar Christmas lights such as those from SolarSanta.com have a power preservation mechanism to conserve energy when the sunlight is scarce.
2. Find holiday lights that protect the solar panel itself
A key to making sure your solar Christmas lights function at optimal levels is choosing lights with solar panels made with tempered glass. Lower quality solar panels actually have a plastic coating that starts to break down over time, causing the solar panel to become less efficient. Ultimately, this affects the solar panel’s output and ability to re-charge the batteries. Solar panels protected by glass do not have this issue.
3. Brighter is better
Low quality solar light displays tend to get dim within a couple hours and take a long time (sometimes close to a day) to build up a charge again. Check customer reviews of various manufacturers and look for quality lights that other users say only need about 8 hours (or less) of charging and can stay bright for up to a day or longer.
Aside from customer reviews, another good way to determine the efficiency of the lights is to check the battery temperature range (the temps at which the battery stays operational) and peak wattage of the solar panel. A quality solar holiday light display that stays bright a long time while requiring minimal charging time will have a battery temp range of around 0 degrees to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and the solar panel is over 1 pear watts.
4. Look for Christmas lights that can power more LED lights
Many people require long strings of interconnected lights to enhance the look of their outdoor holiday light displays. This cannot always be accomplished with lower quality strings since in many cases, these come as single strand units with a total of 100 LED lights. It’s best to find solar Christmas lights with solar panels powerful enough to provide energy for up to 200 or more LEDs.
5. Make sure the LED bulbs are rectified
Non-rectified LED string lights flicker or turn on and off at the rate of 60 times per second. Although this is very fast, it is detectable by the human eye and can cause a strobing effect which some people find annoying. Manufacturers of high quality LED Christmas lights have addressed this issue by rectifying the sets to flicker at a rate much faster than the human eye can detect. The added benefit of these “fully-rectified” lights is that the light the LED bulbs emit appears much brighter and crisper.
6. Make sure the LED bulbs are replaceable
LED Christmas light sets come with either replaceable or non-replaceable bulbs. Even though LEDs bulbs last so much longer than traditional incandescent ones, all things being equal, it’s better to have the capability of replacing burnt out LED bulbs if necessary. One word of caution though — if you choose replaceable bulbs, make sure the internal components are corrosion resistant, otherwise they will deteriorate fairly quickly and you will be replacing them a lot more often than you want to.
7. Use only water-resistant solar Christmas lights
No matter what part of the country you live in, moisture can be a major issue with outdoor holiday light displays. Whether it’s raining or snowing, moisture will take a major toll on solar Christmas lights that aren’t waterproof or highly water resistant. Look for lights that are fully gasketed and have tightly sealed components (the switches, the connections, the LED bulbs themselves). Lower quality solar Christmas lights tend to chintz in these areas and after heavy rains, the products are damaged or destroyed.