Outdoor lighting can be a great addition to your home and one of the best ways to produce a look in your back or front yard. If you have a driveway, patio, or deck that needs lighting, you should think about solar lights. They are an easy and affordable way to add lights around your yard. If you live somewhere with a cold winter, you may be wondering if you can leave your solar lights outside, and that’s a good question!
You can leave your solar lights outside during the winter as long as they are rated outdoors. There will be an indoor or outdoor rating on the packaging of each set of solar lights you purchase. Cold temperatures, as well as rain, snowfall, and cold days, will affect how well the lighting works.
As you know if you’ve read our guide on lights outdoors, there are many different solar lighting styles you can choose from, and each will have a different performance level than the next. It is essential to read the labels on the packaging to choose a style and version for outdoor use. Anything indoor placed outdoors can cause the light batteries to completely drain.
You Can Leave Your Solar Lights Outside During the Winter
Although you can leave your lights outside if they are rated outside lighting, it can affect the performance. Batteries, which are in the lighting, work best at room temperature. This means the performance goes up the closer they get to 68–72 °F.
The hotter it is, the better they work; however, it can shorten their lifespan when they are exposed too long to the heat. The colder an area is, the more a battery will have to work to heat up and perform well.
There are many types of solar lighting to choose from for outdoor options. In fact, anything rated to be okay for the outside can stay out all year round. The lights may appear brighter or duller depending on the season.
You should never keep your solar panel lights in an area that does not have any light exposing them. This will cause the battery to die quickly. This means you should never leave your solar lights in a storage room. They will last longer outside in the winter if they are rated outdoors.
How Winter Conditions Affect Solar Lights
When winter months hit in the northern hemisphere, it means the sun is further away from us. This is also why we experience ‘shorter days’ when we get fewer sunlight hours during the summer months. Your solar lights use the sunlight to charge the batteries. When they get less exposure to the sunlight, it means they have less time to charge their batteries. This can cause them to lose power quicker.
The cold and frigid air tends to zap batteries, even some of the best ones like these (on Amazon). However, these will still work because the sun is lighting them to a decent temperature. Their internal parts have to work extra hard, causing more heat.
However, they may only work at a 50% performance level. Many solar panel lighting options are only meant to be used overnight, this means 8 hours max. You need to carefully read the packaging to see how long each set of lights is supposed to last and the coldest temperature they can perform.
An Example Of How Cold Weather Can Affect Batteries
Most people have heard of the Tesla brand. Most use lithium batteries that need to be charged every so often.
Many Tesla users have noticed that after a colder day of 41°F, their car % is much lower than average. Why? The coldness zaps a little bit of the battery but is not enough to affect the car’s performance. Once the car starts heating up and the battery gets warm, it will stop losing battery percentage.
What To Do If You Get Tons Of Snow?
Unfortunately, some of us live in places where we get mostly grey skies and a lot of snow. This can greatly defeat your solar panel lights as we suggested in this guide here on using battery-powered lights outdoors. The snow can actually cover the panels, which will block any light from going through. You can wipe it off each day it snows to get them working again.
However, you may want to consider another lighting option. Solar panel lighting may not work best if you are somewhere with heavy snow and grey skies.
Solar panel lighting options such as this outdoor pair from FVTLED (on Amazon) are a great way to light up your driveway, walkway, porch, or more. They are good options for people that live in places that get enough sun, and many options are meant to be used overnight only.
If you live in an area with tons of snow and no sun, this may not be your best choice.
The best way to ensure you get the proper lighting fixtures is by reading the packaging. See the lowest temperature they can perform, how long they need to charge, and if they are meant to be outside. This will help you choose the right solar panel lights.