Meeting with customers, I am struck by the same thought so many times: so much confusion about our industry. How can one light be 16.00 while our light is considerably more?
And here I can compare for you, let you understand the differences.
The solar panel, the battery, the power draw by LEDs, lighting time and price are a balancing act. You choose any one, over the others, you generally up end with a product that will not perform well.
The solar panel and battery are likely the two most expensive parts in a solar light. As a result, this is where the costs are cut because most customers do not understand the parts.
The solar panel is very much the engine for the light. The more powerful the solar panel, you can expect more lighting time or brightness.
The stronger the battery, the longer the lighting time OR the more time you have for bad weather lighting. The battery can be thought of as fuel for the light.
The LED power drain determines how long the light can stay on. This can be controlled to offer more consistent light over the night, OR it can have short term brightness where the brightness fades quickly to dim blue/white dots.
Price. Buying undersized solar panels, buying REJECTED solar panels, short life batteries, cheap LEDs and thin light fixtures that are designed to be built quickly but dont last long in the real world....it all depends on what you want to buy. If you are happy throwing out product every few months, you wont be a fan of ours. Otherwise, read on.
Solar panel size and material are crucial to making the light work. Everyone by now is familiar with solar panels whiting or yellowing out, where the covering on the panel does not allow the panel to function well when it changes color. This cheap covering is actually not UV rated, so as soon as it sees sunshine, it begins to fail.
The number of solar cells (lines in the panel) tells you how powerful the solar panel is. More lines = more power.
Typically, factories will use a panel that will properly charge the battery when it has at least 10 hours of sunshine with intensity similar to that found in mid summer. When you dont get that amount of sun, the battery cant charge.
The other solar panel question to be answered, is why are some rated to work in the shade? Well actually, they dont. That type of panel is very inefficient to begin with, typically less than 25% of the efficiency we use in our panels. So when exposed to shade, not sun, the decrease in performance is less noticeable, but, 50% less charging performance for these panels is still only 2% conversion. So you can see that given a small solar panel with only 2% power conversion, the conversion is measurable but not very useful!
Check out the panel on this model. 0.6W on a small light body. Compare to the others typically using 0.2W.
Batteries. Oh how I hate batteries. So misunderstood.
NiCad. very old, not really used any longer
NiMh(1.2V). better long term charging characteristics, but when price is the only arbiter, you get a battery that is designed to last less than 100 charge cycles before the battery fails to hold a full charge! Yes, I said 100 charge cycles. So the battery life can be as short as 6 months!
Li ion (3.7V). good formulation for warm and cool weather. but high capacity batteries are expensive. So these tend to be low capacity batteries being used from the factory. This formulation can be modified to work in colder temps, but the cost goes up. Typically has 500 to 1,000 charge cycles, depending on the battery design and quality and price.
Li Fe (3.2V). Great all round formulation for hot, and cold weather. up to 2,000 charge cycles. If you have the correct capacity for the size of the panel and the power drain from the LEDs, you can have some success.
Our competitors use NiMh batteries, typically single AA type with a capacity of 500mAh. That battery can store 1.2V x 500mA = 0.6W of power. Compare to this light using a LiFe battery, 1,000mAh with a total power of 3.2x 1000mA = 3.2W
Design. Most of our competitors in the fence post light business use very few parts. No charging circuit, no battery protection circuit, no over charge circuit, no control of the discharge power. The result: a light that turns on bright when the battery is fully charged and decreases in brightness continously and never stops decreasing until ultimately, the battery is fully discharged. So if the next day is heavy overcast, you get very little light that night.
Our product protects the battery, charges it at a safe rate, protects it from overcharging, from overdischarging. Our controller turns off the light after a certain number of hours, and it stages the brightness in carefully calculated steps to minimize the decrease in brightness. This PCL3 model will stay on for almost 3 nights on full a charge, even with no more sunshine.
We use light reflectors behind the lens to even out the light distribution and reduce dark spots on the light.
We use super clear acrylic tops to allow snow and leaves to blow away from the solar panel. the solar panel under the top, is covered in glass so it will not change color. Our panels typically have an operation life of more than 12 years.
Bright, reliable light is what we offer you. We hope you enjoy the fruit of our labor.