Solar-powered Christmas lights – a festive way to go green

Solar Christmas lights let homeowners save electrical power and brighten the holiday season while going green.

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    Decorative solar lights are growing in popularity, especially at Christmastime.
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There are those who love huge outdoor displays of Christmas lights -- life-size reindeer up on the roof and all the trees in the yard covered with glowing bulbs -- and those who groan at the sight of a weather-proof extension cord.

If you're in the latter group, this post isn't for you. But if you decorate with outdoor lights, you might be interested to find that you can now buy solar-powered decorative outdoor lights.

You may have to hunt for them locally, but there's a wide variety available online. Some are rather pricey, and solar-powered lights may not shine as brightly as the ones you're used to, but they save electricity (and fossil fuels that are burned to make that electricity) and lower your power bill.

There are several types of solar Christmas lights, notes Homily Magazine:

There are the rope lights that have a row of LEDs contained in a transparent plastic tube, these look delightful when hanging from a door frame or window. The other option is string lights; these are better suited for trees and walls.

Kimberly Sharpe adds solar-powered net lights:

These are amazing nets that you can drape over trees and shrubs with ease. The net design allows you to put up Christmas lights in a matter of minutes instead of hours. With the nets you can rest assured that each light will be well spaced and look fantastic. The only thing that is necessary is to make sure that the solar panel receives light.

The LED lights last longer than incandescents and stay cooler. But there are disadvantages, says the Solar Christmas Lights site.

Here's how they work, explains Solar Lights Site:

Instead of ending in an electrical cord, these strings end in a solar panel. Solar Christmas light panels usually have around four solar cells and a rechargeable battery. There are a few manufacturers making polycrystalline and multicrystalline solar cells. These will charge the batteries to near full, even on a rainy day!
Pretty much every solar light has a rechargeable battery. With Solar Christmas lights the battery is usually in the panel assembly. The most common batteries are NiCad, but a few are actually being made with lithium batteries.

Here's one man's experience shopping for solar Christmas lights. And six tips for decorating with solar Christmas lights. Plus a year's worth of experience with this type of lights.

Happy solar holidays!

Editor’s note: For articles about the environment, see the Monitor’s main environment page, which offers information on many topics. Also, check out our Bright Green blog archive and our RSS feed.

You can also follow Judy on Twitter.

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