Do solar lights need direct sunlight?

Now than ever before, most people are adopting solar lights. They are the most economical way of lighting your home or garden by using renewable energy.

Moreover, they do not use cords like the electric lights. Thus they offer mobility such that you can move them to different parts of your yard or garden.

Solar Inverter
Solar Inverter

Besides, they do not use external wirings, which make them safer. However, on the flip side, these lights are affected by climatic conditions and the setup locations simply because they require direct sunlight.

Thus, it would help if you were careful when choosing the setup locations. However, if you have to set them up in the shade, you need to know a lot because minimal light is passing through, which is not expected.

However, it does not mean that the solar lights will not work on the shade even though the manufacturers recommend direct light. Keep reading to learn more.

Do solar lights need direct sunlight (Know everything about solar lights)

Solar lights are designed to derive energy from the sun rays that’s why they have exposed solar panels to absorb the sun’s energy and convert it to power. However, not all times that the sun is up in the sky. Besides, the setup location may not access the sun rays. Does that mean that you will be in the dark?

Well, solar lights need direct sunlight to work efficiently. However, they are designed so that they can also use artificial light to get the lighting power. Also, they may have batteries to store power to be used later in some cases.

How do solar lights use sunlight?

The solar lightsOpens in a new tab. work under the photovoltaic principle. Please don’t freak out; I wouldn’t bring a lot of physics to explain.

Solar lights have a mini-sized solar panel containing photovoltaic cells that contain photons responsible for converting the absorbed solar energy to electric energy.

When the solar panel absorbs the sunlight, the cells get charged. The negatively charged cells get excited and attracted towards the positively charged spaces.

These cells then convert the light energy to electric energy, later transferred through the copper wires. However, these cells produce direct correct, which is not suitable for consumption. Consequently, it is passed to a different component which converts it to direct current.

After the conversion, the alternating current is stored in the battery for future use.

As the sunset approaches, the sun rays weaken and cannot be efficiently absorbed by the solar cells. Fortunately, the cells also contain photoreceptors that detect darkness and turn on the light.

Do solar lights work in the shade?

The short answer is yes. Solar lights will work in the shade but not as effectively as in the direct sun.

Shade means that less direct light is available in the area. Consequently, the photon cells in the solar panel are receiving quite minimal light and will not quite charge normally. Thus, low amounts of energy will be generated.

However, if the lights are in complete shade, for instance, behind a wall and almost no light is passing through, there will be no solar energy converted to electric energy.

Luckily, all solar lights have batteries that store power to use in such situations. That’s why you should consider lights with high battery capacity.

How do I charge solar lights in the shade?

Solar lights located in the shade have poor power generation. Consequently, you need to apply charging tips to improve their charging ability. Below are some tips you can use to increase the charging of solar lights in the shade;

  • Clean the solar panels

Dirt on a solar panel reduces the absorption rate of the solar cells. Thus, if your solar lights panel is dirty, you need to clean the panel to increase the light absorption efficiency. However, you shouldn’t use detergents. Instead, use a wet cloth and clean water to scrub off the dirt.

  • Redirect the light using mirrors

If the solar lights are in a complete shade such that almost no light is passing use of mirrors will be quite handy. Get a mirror that is twice the size of the solar light and place it in the sun such that it reflects the sun’s rays to the lights.

  • Use artificial lights

One of the key reasons why solar lights do not necessarily require direct sun is that they can also use artificial light to generate lighting power. Thus, you can place the solar lights under the incandescent bulb to recharge and use them later where needed.

Similarly, you can use the led flashlights, which will take 10 to 12 hours to fully recharge the solar lights.

How much direct sunlight do solar lights?

The longer the solar lights are exposed to direct sunlight, the longer they will keep you away from darkness. Most manufacturers recommend that they should be in direct sunlight for at least 4 to 10 hours.

For instance, 8 hours of direct sunlight can give 12 to 15 hours of charge, while 4 hours of sunlight will give 6 to hours of charge in normal weather.

Additionally, four pinnacle sun hours are essential because solar lights give maximum power generation. Actually, four pinnace sun hours generates over 4000 watts.

Do solar lights need direct sunlight or any light?

Solar lights have solar cells which are responsible for lighting power generation. These cells are customized such that they can absorb both natural and artificial light.

Thus they absorb the natural light from the sun and convert it to direct current, which is later channeled to the inverter to be converted to alternating current, which is suitable.

Similarly, these cells can absorb artificial light, for instance, light from bulbs, and convert it to direct current.

Consequently, solar lights do not necessarily need sunlight but can work on any form of light.

However, their operations are quite optimal on direct sunlight. Simply, less power is generated from artificial light in comparison to sunlight.

What are the various solar light shading concerns?

Shading doesn’t look like a big deal, but it has adverse effects on solar lights in the long run. For instance, these lights have cells that are likely to decrease efficiency if they are always placed in a shade.

Similarly, lack of direct sunlight will rarely have the batteries fully charged. As a result, their lifespan is shortened. The shade can be from various sets-ups, such as trees, poles, and buildings.

  • Trees

The effects of installing the solar lights may not be apparent, but they may become adverse as the tree grows.

As the tree thickens and increases its branches, it will hinder the sunlight and maybe worse, especially during cold seasons where the sun rays are not strong to penetrate through. Thus you may be needed to trim them if you want to see your solar lights serve you for many more years.

  • Buildings

A tall building positioned on the east, west, or south of the solar light panel may cause a night in darkness despite investing heavily in solar lights.

Ideally, you should ensure that the sun rays can efficiently reach the panel without destruction.

  • Poles

Poles are not obvious obstacles, but looking out for them is quite important. Unlike big buildings, they do not cause big shades, making it easy to avoid and position the solar light away from them.

Why do solar lights need direct sunlight?

Solar lights have solar panels and batteries, which are meant to generate and store the lighting power, respectively. The solar panel absorbs light from the environment, either artificial or natural.

Thus the amount of lighting power generated is equivalent to the intensity of l the light and the total exposure time. As a result, the higher the intensity of the light rays, the higher the power generated and the longer the solar lights will function.

By now, we all know that solar lights do not necessarily need direct sunlight but any light. However, let’s be honest, the intensity of the sun’s rays is higher than the rays of artificial light.

Besides, it will take several hours for the artificial light to fully charge the solar lights. Not to forget that the solar battery and panel are prone to damage on continuous incomplete charging in the long run.

In other words, it is vital to ensure that the solar lights can access direct light most if not all the time. Observing that will ensure that you don’t live in the dark and increase the lifespan of the solar lights. You can also check this videoOpens in a new tab. to understand more about solar lights.

Final words

Solar lights have solar panels that absorb light from the environment. The absorbed light excites the photovoltaic cells, which convert it to electric energy, which is later stored by the batteries,

 These panels are designed to absorb both artificial and natural light. Thus, they do not necessarily need direct light.

For example, they can absorb light from lighting bulbs and use it to generate power. However, their operations are maximum on exposure to direct sun. Thus they do not work well on shades.

Some of these shades comprise big buildings, trees, and poles. If there is a big building, you can set up the lights on the north of the building such that it does not hinder much light. Also, you can consider trimming the tree branches to allow some light to penetrate through.

Moreover, there are some tips that you can observe to increase the changing ability of solar lights when in the shade. First, you should ensure that the panel is always clean.

Also, you can position mirrors to reflect the sun rays to the solar light or install extra artificial lights or LED flashlights on the shaded area.


I’m Matt, a computer and electronic embedded system developer. Currently, working as an electronic engineer. In my leisure time, I do love to blog about technology stuff. Specially, new advance high tech devices. Portable solar systems are one of topic that I love to investigate. They are becoming more powerful day by day which keep me alert.

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