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Yes, I know, Solar Lights Suck, but.......

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by White Gardens, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    I need just two accent lights to go in a corner of a property I'm working on.

    The run is about 500' from the nearest electrical outlet, so it's not feasible to try and hardwire something in for 2 lights.

    Solar lights are a crap-shoot, and I have no clue what the best quality light is out there. So I could use some input on any company or manufacture that produces a decent solar light.


  2. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,268

    Sorry no answer from me. Where is Dr. Tesla when we need him?
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    I think it would be nice if some company out there could build a "good" solar light to fill the voids such as this situation.

    Hell, if they can build panels that support a crazy electric fence for cattle, then why can't someone come up with a good quality solar light.

  4. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I have all of the components and ability here to produce solar fixtures that would rival the best quality wired fixtures. The thing is, how much are you willing to spend on them? The components to build a line of top quality solar fixtures are not cheap, and then you have to start with a top quality fixture body... So the cost per unit is very high. I have yet to find anyone who is willing to pay that cost.

    500 Feet is not all that far to slit trench in a wire. Any good installer would have that in the ground in about an hour.

    Light on....
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    There are other logistics also.

    No outlet for a transformer that is close by and a plug wired in. The cost of a transformer for just two lights. Having to run underneath a paver sidewalk.

    Lots of work for just two lights, and expensive. If you could do two solar lights for x amount, it would probably be equal or less then hard wiring in two lights in a lot of situations.

    Sometimes, just sometimes there is a niche for certain products.

  6. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Yes sure there is a niche... no doubt of it. But it is pretty darned hard to build a business model around a niche product. You need to find a model for thousands of units per year before you can put a product into production. A couple here and there is not a business, its a hobby... and hobbies are notoriously hard to make any money at.

    The outlet would be a couple hundred $ max.
    You can use a small transformer, the 75W units are pretty darned cheap these days, and they put out up to 15V which is great for a long run.
    The conduit under the sidewalk is a breeze. An hour's labour the old fashioned way (unless it is in rock)

    Pretty sure the two solar lights you are asking for would cost you about the same in the long run...
  7. LLC RI

    LLC RI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149

    I had a situation like that years ago.... 585 feet from the closest power source to the end of the driveway where I needed lights. At that point in time, I found a good alternative energy supply company and bought a 100 watt solar PV panel, charge controller and 2 six volt golf cart batteries. I built a system that worked, but for the weak output of the standard xenon or incandescent lamps I had available. Besides the fact that the draw was such that on cloudy days, we were lucky to get 4 hours of light.

    Then came LED's . The first LED's that were made for landscape lighting ( supposedly)... Yucky color, weak output...etc.

    Finally, the client said he'd pay for the wire run so I used a small trencher, dug the wire in and used a higher tap on my transformer. Lights looked so much better.

    The irony now, I was ahead of my time. Had I built that system now, with 100 watt panel, and used todays' LED lamps, that system would have rocked.

    Now, to help you with your question and to reiterate what James said.... to run that line and use a small transformer would be the way to go.

    Furthermore, if you are a good salesperson and lighting designer, you should be able to justify to the client that since you are doing all this infrastructural work, that it'd be wise and more cost effective ( lower cost per fixture spread over the hard cost of the wiring) if he added some more fixtures. It's up to YOU to find places where some additional lighting would look good, be functional, serve purpose or create some focal points along the route.

    Good Luck

  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Alright, you guys are partially swinging me in another direction with this.

    Now, with the solar lights I might use, they would be more of a light post in a design I did.


    The HO has also expressed interest interest into doing hard lighting around her house. But, there is a couple minor landscaping projects she wants done first along with a major re-hab on a barn they have on their property.

    So, ultimately the lighting is at the end of the list of projects that she wants done.

    Here is the pic in question, and it's not so much for lighting up the are, but more for an evening accent in the area. This part of the garden is supposed to be in memory of her mother. The mother also loved yellow, hence all the yellow.



  9. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    White Gardens,

    This comes up again and again. I wish we had a good solar solution for every system. I'm not very knowledgeable in the technology, but my understanding is that for a system of any size, you're looking at panels that need to be much larger than you'd expect - a minimum of 1 sq. ft. per 10w in an average climate. Then you need a battery/power supply that stores the energy during the day and releases it at night (size depends on extent of sun energy). There's some pretty sophisticated electronics in these batteries - not cheap.

    The technology is there and we've worked with several companies who can customize solar solutions for any project. Let me know and we'll refer you to them.
  10. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I Assure you, there is No economic case for a small scale, solar powered lighting system, just as there is no real market for high quality integrated solar powered fixtures.

    The photo you sent looks like a small system or zone of lighting to my eye. I would include the cost of proper electrical rough-ins in your landscaping proposal, and then present the lighting proposal as a separate item. Also, those post mounted lights could be cut entirely. why spend money on those ornate posts (glare bombs) when you could spend that same money on well designed and visually appealing projected lighting?

    Time to call in a local lighting designer to help you out there.

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