What to Consider When Choosing the Best Solar Flood Lights
Once installed, solar flood lights don¡¯t cost a dime to operate¡ªtheir built-in solar panels gather energy from the sun and store it in their internal batteries until nighttime. You can install solar flood lights just about anywhere, although they¡¯ll provide the brightest light if they¡¯re located in direct sunshine during the day. Before selecting solar lights for your property, consider the following.
Light Brightness and Coverage
The intensity of lights is measured in lumens, and, generally speaking, the higher the lumens, the brighter the light will be. For comparison, a standard 100-watt incandescent bulb (which is no longer sold) produces about 1,600 lumens, while an indoor night-light produces about 20 lumens. Most solar flood lights will state the lumens in the product¡¯s description. The breadth of the beam also plays a role in the light¡¯s overall brightness: the narrower the beam of light, the brighter it will seem. Flood lights typically cast light over a 50- to 280-degree arc outward from the light itself, so you can select a light to illuminate a narrow walkway or light up an entire backyard.
Dusk to Dawn vs. Motion Detection
Dusk-to-dawn flood lights come on when the sun sets in the evening, and they stay on all night, or until their internal battery charge is depleted. They are an excellent option if you want to illuminate your property with continuous light. The downside of dawn-to-dusk solar lights is if the previous day was overcast or rainy, their batteries may not charge to maximum capacity. If this happens, the flood light may stay on only a few hours before it dims and goes out. Motion-detection flood lights turn on only when they sense motion, and they remain on for a predetermined amount of time, usually 20 to 30 seconds, before turning back off. Because motion-detection lighting uses less battery power, it is more likely to function all night long.
Battery Type and Capacity
Solar flood lights come with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that charge during the day and use the stored energy at night to power the lights. The batteries are built in and are rated by their capacity in milliamp-hours (mAh). The higher the rating, the larger the battery¡¯s capacity. Most solar flood lights come with ratings ranging from around 2,000 mAh to 3,600 mAh.
Charging and Run Time
Solar flood lights require ample sunlight to charge, usually six to eight hours for a full charge. Once charged, the battery will power the light for three to eight hours, depending on whether the flood light runs continuously or turns on only when it detects motion. Dusk-to-dawn solar lights require large-capacity batteries. They also usually have oversize solar panels, which enable them to draw and store as much solar energy as possible during the day so they can remain on all night long.
Virtually all of today¡¯s solar flood lights feature bright light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that cast intense light beams without heating up or drawing a lot of power. This is why LEDs are a perfect choice for providing intense security light.
The extent to which an outdoor light resists damage from debris and moisture is known as its ingress protection (IP) rating, which is a two-digit number. The first number represents how well the light resists damage from solid items and ranges from 1 to 6, with 6 being the tightest seal, capable of keeping out even fine dust. The second number, which ranges from 1 to 8, represents how well the light resists water. A rating of 8 means that it¡¯s completely watertight. Most flood lights come with ratings of 65 to 67.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, a solar flood light should cast an intense beam of light. Keep in mind that all solar lights will underperform if they¡¯re not placed in a spot where they receive six to eight hours of sunlight, so good performance will depend on where you install the light. The following models are top performers, and you won¡¯t go wrong installing any one of them.