A visit paid to a couple of golfing enthusiasts resident at Stellenbosch’s award-winning de Zalze Golf Estate recently, helped demystify matters outdoor solar lighting.
A stroll through the estate gardens and pristine golf course during daylight hours highlighted the striking views across lavender fields and vineyards, to the Boland mountains. However, once the sun has set, what becomes most visible are the reflections from illuminated gardens, mostly lit up by bright outdoor lights emitting direct light up into the sky, or onto neighbours.
This pair of hosting property owners took great delight in demonstrating an outdoor solar lighting gift recently positioned in their garden, after receiving it from friends who explored energy saving lighting options while abroad. The result is a tranquil garden ambience, subtly lit up by solar energy through white LED lights, mostly of a freestanding variety, attached to stakes placed inside flower beds, around the swimming pool, and patio areas. Another new addition was a string of solar bubble lights that illuminates a large potted tree on the veranda, deriving its energy from the solar panel placed in a sunny garden bed nearby. This also makes for an ideal decor element during the festive season that will add perfectly to the celebratory outdoor setting when entertaining around the swimming pool and patio areas.
And so the obligatory and prompt trip to the local Builders Warehouse in Constantiaberg, served to establish the affordability and practicalities of this brilliant concept that enables a reduced domestic carbon footprint. Different combinations of products in affordable price ranges are available, as well as varying solar panels for different sizes of lights, that can be placed outdoors or in interior areas.
Depending on the availability of sun during daylight hours, batteries are easily rechargeable to continue automatic radiance at night, and although not ideal in areas with high winter rainfall during winter periods such as the Western Cape, energy savings will be notable.
Individual lights on posts can be sunken into soil in flower beds, across grass, stone and gravel paths, or attached to outdoor balustrades, as long as it draws full sun for a number of hours during the day, which will automatically switch it on as soon as the sun sets. Conventional wire installations are by no means a necessity, and strings of solar lanterns and bubbles to be used for in and outdoor purposes vary from two to five metres, and come in handy combinations with free standing solar pads. Most notable is that indoor Christmas trees can be lit up in exactly the same way, as long as solar panels are placed in an interior area that enjoys optimum sunlight.
As far as bright lights needed for driveways and garages, industry experts say as Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology improves, so will the brightness of the radiance. While not quite comparable with the strength of high powered electric lighting yet, exterior flood and movement centre solar lights are increasingly becoming popular due to substantially reduced electricity bills.
When electrical outdoor lighting is the only option, the rule of thumb say the lighting gurus, is that ideally light emitted from outside lamps should shine from the fitting, at a 30 degree angle.