Whether you use your dock for boating or just as a place to sit and watch the sunset, keeping it well-lit is an easy way to prevent accidents and create a safer environment.
If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint, you might be interested in installing solar dock lights. You might also be wondering how solar lights perform compared to traditional electrical lights before you commit to a switch.
Read on to learn the pros and cons of solar lighting so that you can decide if this eco-friendly solution is the right choice for your dock.
How Solar Dock Lights Work
During the day, a solar panel in each light absorbs radiation from the sun. This energy is stored in a small battery. When the panel no longer detects light, the battery’s power is used to activate an LED light. The light stays on until the battery runs out of energy or until the sun comes back to recharge it. All of this happens automatically.
One of the most common myths about solar lights is that they only work on sunny days. While it’s true that they can’t recharge on cloudy or rainy days, that doesn’t mean that they won’t work at all.
Lights with large batteries can store enough energy to last for several days without needing to recharge. So if you’re worried about gloomy days keeping your dock lights dim, it’s worth investing in lights with high-capacity, high-quality batteries.
Pros of Solar-Powered Lighting
Easy to Install
Unfortunately, many eco-friendly changes are seen as a hassle. For example, things like recycling and composting require more effort than simply throwing waste into the trash can. However, solar lighting is actually easier to install than electrical lighting.
Because there’s no wiring involved, installing solar lights on your dock, deck, or exterior stairs is often as simple as choosing where you want to put your light fixtures and screwing them in place.
No wiring also means you can install them anywhere with no restrictions. Whether that’s on top of your dock, on the sides, or on top of the piling, you can do so without having to hire and pay a professional installation crew.
You’ll Save Money
Because solar dock lights are powered by the sun, they won’t take up any space on your electric bill. While solar lights might cost more upfront than traditional electric lights, the long-term energy savings, non-existent installation costs, and lower maintenance costs quickly make up for it.
Because there are no wires to worry about, maintaining solar docks is a snap. Once they’re installed, there are only two maintenance tasks that need to be done – keeping the lights clean and occasionally replacing the batteries.
Regular cleaning is necessary to remove dirt that builds upon the surface of the lights, affecting their ability to absorb solar energy. Depending on the product, batteries can last up to 2 years. However, you may want to replace them sooner to keep your solar dock lights as bright as possible.
Possible Tax Incentives
Depending on where you live, you may be able to qualify for certain grants and tax incentives by switching to eco-friendly power for your dock or marina. To find out what incentives may be available to you, enter your zip code into the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.
Cons of Solar-Powered Lighting
Not Always as Bright
Many people believe that solar lights are not as bright as low-voltage electrical lights. While they may have been right several years ago, new technology is starting to change that. Solar lights are getting better and brighter every year. If you weren’t satisfied with their performance years ago, give them a second chance!
Most Turn Off Automatically
If you would like to have control over when your dock lights turn on and off, solar-powered dock lights may not be for you. That’s because most function automatically, charging during the day and turning on only when it gets dark outside.
Because this auto on/off functionality has the potential to waste the solar light’s energy, many new outdoor solar lights are equipped with motion sensors that only turn on when they detect movement.
Just keep in mind that if you use your dock for boating, you will not be able to see motion-sensing lights from far away, which could make it difficult to dock your boat at night.
Some Have a Blue Tint
While this certainly won’t be a con for everyone, you may not like the fact that solar dock lights tend to have a blue tint to them. If having softer, whiter lights on your dock is important to you for aesthetic reasons, pay close attention to the light’s CCT (Correlated Color Temperature).
CCT is measured in degrees Kelvin, or K. The lower the temperature, the warmer the light. The yellow glow of a candle has a CCT of about 1,900K, while a CCT of 5,000K or higher will produce blue-tinted light. So if you’re looking for something a bit softer, look for lights with a lower CCT.
More Marine Lighting Options
Now that you know the pros and cons of solar dock lights, you might already have some ideas about how you want to illuminate your marine space. For more inspiration, you can browse a variety of attractive outdoor lighting options here.
In addition to solar lights, you might also consider enhancing your dock with colorful underwater lights. Not only do they add a vivid glow underneath your boat or jet ski lift, but they can even be used to attract fish.
If you still have questions about dock lighting and other marine accessories, feel free to ask the experts at Decks & Docks Lumber Company.