Solar power systems and solar-powered equipment are becoming very famous among people as solar energy is one of the best solutions for today’s energy crisis. There are many types of equipment available in the market. Some of them are designed to work from the direct current produced by home solar panels and some of them come with a small PV panel to generate the power it needed by itself.
Solar lights are very famous among solar-powered device users. Especially solar garden lights and street lamps are very useful solar light types. These are very useful as they can work completely off-grid. So today’s question is “do solar lights work as standalone equipment?”. Yes, they are. Solar lights are stand-alone solar equipment that generates electricity it needs by using sunlight.
What is standalone equipment?
Standalone equipment is equipment that produces the power it needs to operate on its own.
Then let’s see the structure of the solar light
Solar light has four major components –
- LED bulb
- Small scale PV solar panel – used to generate the direct current.
- Battery – store the energy.
- Sensor – identify the brightness level of the surrounding.
How solar light works?
By using the small scale PV solar panel solar lights generate Direct current in the daytime. Then produced direct current will be stored in the battery. The stored energy will be used at night to light up the bulb.
Usually, other solar devices use the generated power in the daytime and only the extra energy will be stored in the battery. But solar lights store all the generated energy in the battery and used it only at night. This will be controlled by a sensor.
Same as most solar devices solar lights also worked from the direct current so there is no need to convert the current stored in the battery. We can directly use it to light the bulb.
So as you can see solar light can generate the power it needs to operate on its own.
How the direct current generated in a solar panel?
To generate direct current solar panel uses solar photons. Photon is an elementary particle. This is used to describe a small amount of energy of the electromagnetic radiation or quantum of electromagnetic radiation. This is a basic unit of light. Sunlight is a collection of electromagnetic radiations such as ultraviolet, infrared, and visible light. So we can simply say solar photon is a packet of the energy of sunlight.
When these photons hit the solar panel, energy will be absorbed into the solar panel. Because of the absorbed energy, the energy inside the atoms of the material of the solar panel will be increased. This will cause the ionization of the atomic electrons. This electron flow will generate direct current flow in a positive direction.
Did will store energy in the battery be enough to light up the bulb during the whole night?
This mainly depends on the capacity of your battery. So when choosing solar lights for you, you should make sure that the battery has an adequate amount of capacity before you buy it.
Usually, solar lights come with an inbuild solar battery that matches your solar panel. Replacing the battery with a higher capacity battery after you purchase it, is not a solution. Because the solar panel might not be strong enough to supply enough power to fully charge your new battery.
So before purchase, you should go through the specification list and make sure that the lights you are buying match your requirements.
Can we use artificial light to charge the battery of the solar light?
Yes, you can. Even though this is not efficient as using sunlight you can use artificial light to produce direct current in your solar panel. You can use either artificial light or an incandescent bulb to charge the battery.
Also, you can use LED bulbs or an LED flashlight to charge the battery.
All these light sources should connect to the grid. Otherwise, the energy of the emitted light will not be sufficient to generate current in the solar panel.
You have to keep the bulb or the light source as close as possible to charge efficiently. Also, you can use a reflector lens concentration system to concentrate the light emitted from the light source onto the panel.
This method is inefficient because as there is a lot of system loss as heat and any other ways you have to use significant electricity units to charge the battery by using artificial lights.
Can a solar light produce the energy it needs by using its own light?
Even though artificial light can be used to charge the battery, using its own light to charge the battery is not going to work.
The reason behind these is very simple. As you know the solar panel converts the energy of the sunlight to direct current. Normally conversion rate or the efficiency of a solar panel is about 22%. That means only 22% of the total energy solar panel received will be converted to the direct current. Then this current will be stored in the battery during day time. Then the current will be used to light up the bulb at night time. Throughout this whole storing and using process there will be a system loss of direct current.
Even when you are lighting up the bulb portion of the energy will lose as heat. So a very small amount of energy will release as light. This energy is not enough to produce the current inside the panels.
So you can not produce the energy you need to operate solar lights by using their own lights.
Can you charge the battery of the solar light by using moonlight?
As you know the moonlight is a reflector of sunlight. So it also has photons but it is down by a factor of about 1/350. Because of the limitations of the technology available today, even though the solar panel absorbs this energy it is not enough to generate a direct current inside your solar panel. So you can not charge the battery using moonlight.
| Conclusion |
As you can see solar lights are equipped with small-scale solar panels. So they can produce the power they need to operate on their own. Not just sunlight but you also can use artificial light to charge the battery. But it is not advantageous as using sunlight because you have to pay for the electricity you get from the utility grid.