How Does Solar Lights Work

How Does Solar Lights Work
An Outdoor Solar Light

Before you know how does Solar lights work, you should know a brief history of them. Do you know when the first modern solar light was invented… take a guess 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. No correct answer is close to 75 years ago at  Bell Labs.

Yes, almost when your grandparents were born, you must be thinking then why we are not using them as frequently as the other means of light. They have been giving electricity to satellites and other related equipment but we were not able to use it in our day to day life due to the cost of installation of it.

With the advancement of technology now it is possible to use solar lights almost everywhere. Lets see how basic solar lights functions –

Any Solar lights have four major parts to it. 

  1. Solar Cells or Solar Panel
  2. Battery 
  3. Electrical Circuit/  Controller Board
  4. A Light ( Mostly a LED Light )  

Lets dig deep to understand each of the above given elements and their functionality and learn how does Solar lights work

Solar Cell

What is a Solar Cell or Solar Panel – 

A Solar Cell also known as Solar photovoltaic ( PV ) cells. Absorbs the Sun Rays and converts them into Direct Current and then the System will collect the Electricity and store it into a battery that can be used immediately or whenever we need it. 

Solar Cells are made of different types of Silicone, Glass and Metal. These PV Cells convert the sunlight into electricity which is called the photovoltaic effect.

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Solar Powered Battery

Battery – Battery is an essential element of a solar lighting system. As without it, we can not use electricity whenever we need it. These batteries are normally lead acid or lithium batteries which were invented later on. 

After lithium batteries were invented, it is much easier to store electricity now because they are more power-efficient, little to no maintenance is needed. They have a longer lifespan with some other benefits which has made solar power usage much more convenient and less expensive.

Electrical Circuit and controller board –  Every Solar Light has an Electrical Fixture or a Controller Board which switches on and off the light whenever there is a need for lights. We can do it manually as well.

Outdoor Solar lights have a photoreceptor installed in them, it switches on the lights when sunlight goes and on the off the light when the sunlight disappears. 

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Solar Street Lights

Lights Fixture – All the Solar Lights have a Light Fixture and in most of the cases it is a LED Lights After the invention of LED Lights ( Light Emitting Diodes ). Solar Lights have rapidly risen as LEDs consume very little energy which is perfect for solar lighting systems. 

They are much smaller and portable and easy to install, requiring little maintenance as compared to other types of lights. Less electricity consumption also means smaller batteries which make them a perfect companion to Solar Lights.

Pros and Cons of Solar Lights – 

So you now you have learnt that how does Solar lights work, now see what are the benefits and short coming of the same and what lies in future.

There are numerous benefits of Solar Lights. They save you lots of money in the long run. You can install them in remote areas without having to worry about the wiring and other infrastructural problems. They are Eco Friendly. The biggest advantage is that supply is unlimited if you can fully harness the power of the sun.

With every good thing comes a few backdrops. The same goes to Solar Powered Lights. The biggest advantage also becomes one of the major problems. Sun is nature and nature is not the same all the time. Even though Sun Lights is unlimited ( Till the world ends ) but it is not the same all the time, in some areas, there is time when there is no sun at all in those conditions, it is not a reliable option fo survive upon. 

It is still expensive as compared to traditional source of electricity and comes with its own limitation. 


Considering the future and limitation of resources on the earth, Solar Power and Lights are the future. In the coming times, Solar Power will rule the world. We hope to see a world where our cars will be running on solar power in practical.