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Solar Christmas Lights

Whether you are ready or not, Christmas is just around the corner. The department stores have been playing the jingles since mid-October, and the weather is cooling quicker than Santa can finish all those cookies you plan on leaving near the fireplace. Read more

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Whether you are ready or not, Christmas is just around the corner. The department stores have been playing the jingles since mid-October, and the weather is cooling quicker than Santa can finish all those cookies you plan on leaving near the fireplace.

When you’re getting ready to put up those Christmas decorations this year (unless they’re still up from last year), opt to make a wise investment: solar powered Christmas lights.

Every year you untangle a few extension cords, wrap them all around the house, and hope that it somehow doesn’t result in a fire. With solar Christmas lights, you can leave those extension cords in the corner of the attic since there are no plugs. All it takes is a rechargeable battery (and one is usually included with the purchase), and the solar lights are good to go for the entire winter.

Holiday lights result in tons of wasted energy each year — a report by the United States Department of Energy says that holiday lighting equates to more than six terawatt-hours per year. That’s enough energy to power 500,000 homes for an entire month. That’s a city’s worth of electricity, all for tiny Christmas lights! Producing all this energy means more carbon dioxide emissions, which means more damage to the environment.

LED Christmas lights are a great alternative to traditional lights, but going completely free of plugs and harnessing the energy of the sun is by far the greenest way to go.

At Christmas time, you’re three times as likely to experience a household fire than at any other time of the year. The increased risk is due to all the electricity you’re using on things like Christmas lights and light up reindeer in your front yard. Cutting out the traditional Christmas lights for a green alternative such as solar Christmas lights reduces that risk of fire and makes your home safer for the holidays.

Why is it that we spend the entire year trying to reduce our energy use, only to not care at all once December rolls around? Opting for solar-powered Christmas lights makes it a little easier to accept an increase in energy usage around the holidays.

Just remember to balance out the rest of your holiday lighting and to use energy efficient LEDs if you have other decorations that aren’t powered by the sun.

How do solar Christmas lights work?

Solar holiday lights are attached to a dark panel, called a solar cell, that converts the sun's rays into electrical current. The newly converted electricity is then stored in a battery until it's needed. The solar lights charge off sunlight all day, and then in the evening, a photoreceptor senses when it's dark outside and will turn on the light. The light (usually an LED) will remain on until the battery is empty or the photoreceptor senses light again"

What are the pros of going solar?

Not only do solar lights reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a source of renewable energy, but they also won't cost you a penny more than what you pay to purchase them. And because there's nothing to plug in, solar lights give you the flexibility to string them up far away from the nearest electrical outlet. And since most solar outdoor holiday lights can be set to turn on automatically after sunset, you won't have to worry about setting up timers or remember to turn them off before you go to bed at night.

Is it a one-size fits all solution?

It may be obvious with a word like solar in the name, but solar lights need sunlight to work. So, how much sun is enough? And what should you do if you want to hang them in an area of your home that spends more time in the shade than not?

When it comes to sun access, here's what to think about: Because solar outdoor lights charge off of sunlight, they work best on bright days when there is plenty of daylight. Most solar lights need between four and 12 hours of sunlight to fully charge. Some solar lights might work with less light on the colder, rainier days of winter, but for the most part they work best in more temperate climates. In general, solar lights may not be right for you if you live in a very snowy, cold area with little sunlight.

Where should you hang them?

Because solar lights don't need an extension cord to work, you don't have to worry as much about the logistics of hanging them far from an outlet, giving you much more flexibility when it comes to deciding where to decorate. However, you will need to make sure your solar panels aren't covered in snow so they can charge properly. And from a safety standpoint, you'll want to avoid placing "hot lights" on dry trees as they can become a fire hazard.

There are plenty of benefits to using solar lights around your home's exterior, including a lower electric bill and smaller carbon footprint. And while they're an excellent choice for illuminating your garden during the warmer months, you shouldn't save solar lights for summer alone. Solar Christmas lights are rising in popularity thanks to the increased availability and affordability of the technology behind them.