Currently one of the commonest uses of Solar power is to provide lighting for domestic sheds and garages which are not connected to the mains electricity. It is usually not economically viable to extend a ring main from a house to an out-building, particularly when most sheds and garages are used infrequently at night. However, on those occasions that you are scrabbling around in the dark trying to find something you wish you had adequate lighting.
Photovoltaic Solar Panels are perfect for this purpose. During the day when you do not need lighting, the panel charges up a battery, and then during night when there is no sunlight, you can draw power from the battery for lights. Depending on how often you use your shed or garage at night, and on how many hours the sun shines during the day, you can find a solar panel and battery fit to purpose.
Commercial Solar Shed Lighting Systems
Pictured above is an example of the results of the Solar Mate I Shed Lighting Kit. This will light an area of 16 square metres with its 40 Watt energy efficient CFL bulb, and a 5 Watt solar panel. A suitable Deep Cycle Sealed Leisure Battery is not provided (costs around £40), but all wiring, fittings, connectors, and a switch and bulb holder are included. The price of this kit is around £80.
Pictured above is the Solar Mate 0.5 shed lighting system available for just £19.99 from Ethical Superstore. Using the latest German-made thin film solar cells, the solar panel charges 3 AA rechargeable batteries via a 2 metre long cable. This is a complete easy-to-fit system with no other components required.
The batteries power 10 ultra-bright LEDs fitted in a sturdy unit which will adequately illuminate an area of 9 square metres.
Solar Mate 0.5 can either be switched on/off using the switch built into the light unit, or with the supplied remote control (supplied with wall mounting cradle).
Click here to find out more and to buy Solar Mate 0.5 now.
Click here now to read our new detailed SolarMate 0.5 Product Review now.
Make Your Own Shed Lighting
If you are capable of installing a pre-packaged solar shed lighting kit then you are perfectly capable of making your own far better bespoke system and saving a few pounds.
We recommend that you consider ultra-low energy using 12V LED Spotlights, with pre-wired MR11 / MR16 Ceramic Connectors (available in the REUK Shop). These bulbs draw just 1 Watt of power while providing easily enoughlight for an enclosed space such as a shed or garage.
Detailed instruction on Putting Together a Solar Lighting System are available by clicking here. Also of interest is our article Solar Shed Lighting Circuit Testing in which we look at the real world power usage of solar powered shed lighting system.
New We now have a unique online Solar Shed Lighting Calculator which will help you to spec your solar lighting system – choose how many bulbs, the battery capacity, and the required solar panel quickly and easily.
Buying the Components
12V Spotlight Bulbs are available for under £4 each, and the ceramic bulb holders for under £1.50 each. Then all you need to add is some red and black insulated wire, a rugged switch for £1, and a fuse and fuse holder for under £1. Assuming 3 spotlights – for example, one acting as a spotlight over an area where you often work, and a couple providing general lighting elsewhere – total costs so far are around £20.
For smaller systems, our 3 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panel (just £19.99 in the REUK Shop) is perfect for keeping the battery topped up with charge. Weighing just 165 grams and made from rugged epoxy and fiberglass, these panels are 199mm wide, 136mm high, and 2.5mm thick.
New Click here to read our new article on 12V Deep Cycle Batteries for Solar Applications with details on purchasing suitable batteries in the UK.
Such a set up will provide you with enough battery storage power to light your shed or garage constantly for a week without sunshine, but the solar panel will keep the battery topped up and healthy. One hour of good sunshine will give you enough power for at least one hour of shed lighting so even on cloudy days in the depths of winter, you should be able to generate sufficient power to meet the needs of all but the most demanding of shed users.
Note that for most people an old car battery will work just fine and can be obtained free of charge by asking nicely at your local mechanics’ garage.
Enhancing Your Solar Lighting System
If you need more lighting add more bulbs, if you need more storage power use a larger battery, and if you do not get much sunshine use a larger solar panel.