January 17, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions


How do solar Christmas lights work?

In general, any solar light accrues its energy via a solar panel, which absorbs the sun’s rays and transfers this solar energy to a battery to be stored. Once there is no more sun, the battery stops charging and a light detector automatically turns the lights on at dusk and off at dawn.

What are the advantages of solar Christmas lights?

Solar Christmas lights require no power cords out outlets, utilize free energy that saves you money on your energy bill, have less risk of fire due to running cooler and without power cords, last longer than traditional Christmas lights, and are environmentally safe.

What are the disadvantages of solar Christmas lights?

Solar Christmas lights generally have a higher sticker price than traditional Christmas lights, must be placed in an area that receives adequate sunlight, don’t charge fully in inclement weather, and may not appear the same as traditional Christmas lights.

How long do solar Christmas lights stay on?

The amount of time solar Christmas lights stay on, as well as how brightly they shine, depends on how much sunlight they receive and, accordingly, how much energy the batteries have stored. If the batteries are fully charged, the lights shine for about eight hours.

How long does the battery in solar Christmas lights last?

The lifespan of the battery depends on both the brand and type of battery used; however, the common nickel cadmium batteries last for roughly two years.

Do I have to charge the battery in solar Christmas lights?

No. The batteries recharge themselves by storing the solar energy they receive from the sun’s rays via a solar panel.

How do I install solar Christmas lights?

Solar Christmas lights require no power cords or outlets, so they can be placed virtually anywhere as long as the solar panel receives adequate sunlight. Otherwise, their setup is the same as traditional Christmas lights.

Do solar Christmas lights require direct sunlight?

Most solar panels can absorb enough solar energy in cloudy weather, but the more sun exposure they receive, the longer and brighter the lights can shine.  Avoid placing the solar panels in shady areas for optimal performance.

Do solar Christmas lights work better in certain geographical areas?

Yes. Any solar light performs better in places that receive the most sunlight. Areas that receive a lot of snow and cloudy weather are not ideal; however the lights can still shine—just not as brightly or for as long a period of time. For a better idea of which geographical areas are most suitable, we can look at solar insolation maps to view average peak sun hours of various places.

This map shows the average winter peak sun hours in the United States to demonstrate which regions receive the most sun during the worst season for solar lights:

US Solar Insolation Map

This second map shows the same information, only across the entire globe:

World Solar Insolation Map

Are there a variety of types of solar Christmas lights?

Solar Christmas lights come in a variety of styles, shapes, and colors to meet any decorator’s needs.  Lights can be shaped as icicles, snowflakes, spheres, etc. You can even buy some that flash on and off or change color.

Is there a difference between LED and solar Christmas lights?

LED stands for light emitting diode, and is used in both electric LED Christmas lights and solar LED Christmas lights. Electric LED Christmas lights save energy because they contain small chips that directly convert electricity to light without using a filament or glass bulb. Solar LED Christmas lights operate with LEDs, but they harness energy from the sun to power them instead of electricity.

How much energy and money do LED Christmas lights save?

While the initial cost of LED lights is generally higher than incandescent lights, they save a lot of money on your energy bill because they operate without filaments. Here is a chart that compares the savings of two different sizes of LED and incandescent Christmas lights:

Type of Light Bulb Number of Light Bulbs in Strand Energy Usage per Bulb Total Energy Usage Kilowatt Per Hour Usage* Average Cost Per KW/h** Average Operating Cost
C7 – Incandescent 100 5 Watt /  .042 Amps 500 Watts / 4.2 Amps 157.5 KW/h 11 cents $16.85
C7 – LED 100 .65Watts / .0054 Amps 65 Watts / 0.54 Amps 20.48 KW/h 11 cents $2.19
C9 – Incandescent 100 7 Watts / .058 Amps 700 Watts / 5.83 Amps 220.5 KW/h 11 cents $23.59
C9 – LED 100 .65Watts / .0054 Amps 65 Watts / 0.54 Amps 20.48 KW/h 11 cents $2.19

*   KW/h estimated on 7 hour per day for 45 days.
** Based on National Average

If one light on a solar Christmas light strand breaks or burns out, will the whole strand go out?

No. Unlike incandescent Christmas lights, the rest of the lights on the strand will continue to shine.

Are there any tax rebates or energy company incentives for using solar Christmas lights?

Yes. Many companies offer tax rebates per strand of solar Christmas lights they buy and/or traditional Christmas light strands they recycle. Be sure to check if such promotions apply to you.