Solar lights have become increasingly popular as a sustainable lighting option. They harness the power of the sun to provide illumination without relying on traditional electricity sources. In this article, we’ll explore if those benefits of solar lights overcome the drawbacks. Given Seattle’s unique climate, Are Solar Lights a good choice for outdoor lighting?

Benefits of Solar Lights

This section explores the typical benefits of Solar Lights and why so many are interested and intrigued by the idea of them. Later we will explore how they work in Seattle, but this section describes the initial attraction.

  1. Environmentally Friendly: Solar lights reduce the global carbon footprint by using renewable energy. Unlike non-renewable energy sources, solar panels generate electricity without depleting our planet’s resources.
  2. Unlimited Energy: As long as there’s sunlight, solar lights can produce energy. Seattle’s overcast skies don’t hinder their functionality, as even diffused light can charge the batteries.
  3. Cost-Effective: Although solar lights have a higher upfront cost, they pay for themselves over time. They don’t rely on electricity, resulting in lower utility bills.
  4. Easy to Install: One of the more straightforward benefits of Solar Lights is that they do not require wiring which makes them significantly easier to install. No transform, no controller, no wiring necessary for solar lights.

Are Solar Lights Effective in Seattle?

Seattle’s reputation for cloudy and rainy weather raise concerns about solar light effectiveness for good reason. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Lack of Sun Exposure: Seattle has long dark winters, in the peak of the winter daylight only lasts 8 hours, which means we have 16 hours of darkness. This lack of sun exposure makes solar lights not effective when they are needed the most. At night in the Fall, Winter and Spring Months.
  2. Overcast Days: Seattle is well known for it’s rain and overcast days. The rain is exaggerated, but the overcast is significant. So even when we have longer Spring days we still have considerable overcast which makes the lights ineffective when they are needed most.
  3. Landscape Conditions: Seattle is blessed to be one of the most tree dense cities in America, our Urban forests and large trees are a huge blessing for the city but the additional shade makes solar lights even less effective for most Seattle Homeowners.

Are Solar Lights Sustainable in Seattle?

  1. Battery Impact: Solar lights use rechargeable batteries. While sustainable when compared to fossil fuels, batteries require significant rare earth metals. This mining is far from sustainable, it absolutely devastates landscapes during extraction. Battery technology while better than some forms of energy is far from perfect.
  2. Seattle’s Renewable Grid: Consider the alternative to solar lights, that is hard wired lights. Seattle boasts one of the most renewable energy mixes in America. Seattle City Lights promotes a 97% carbon free energy mix. By hardwiring your lights in Seattle you avoid all of the necessities of batteries and gain access to a very sustainable energy grid.

Comments on Solar In General

Solar Power and Solar Lights are not the same thing. Putting Solar Panels on your roof is a completely different process and function. Solar Panels are wired into your and the city electrical grid. The concerns over batteries are eliminated. There are still rare earth metal requirements in the solar panels themselves but less than including the batteries as well. Additionally, Solar Panels are on your roof which has better access to the sun than most path lights which may be blocked by the house and trees. I would argue it is better for the planet to install a solar panel in the Southwest than the Pacific Northwest. It will take us much longer to overcome the carbon emissions in creating the solar panels than it would in the Sun dense Southwest region. In my opinion Solar Panels have more benefits in Seattle than Solar Lights.

Recommendation: Should You Install Solar Lights in Seattle?

While Solar lights offer clean energy, and cost savings, in Seattle they are neither an effective nor sustainable option. All things considered in Seattle they may be worse for the environment than a typical hard-wired lighting system and are definitely less effective. We would not recommend Solar Lights in Seattle.

With that being said, other parts of America Solar Lights are a fantastic idea. If you live in a climate where the sun continually shines and/or you live in an area that uses coal to power their electrical grid then the calculus is quite different. In those regions Solar Lights are very effective and the impacts of the batteries are overwhelmed by the fact that they avoid using a coal centric power grid.

Remember, when choosing solar lights, consider your climate and power grid before considering brightening your surroundings with solar power! 🌞🌿 Learn if an Outdoor Light System is Right for You!

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