solar carriage lights

leah29September 18, 2010

I'm looking for some carriage lights for the outside of my garage and was hoping to find some solar ones. I've searched all over the internet and have found plenty of solar post lighting and garden lights, but nothing for mounting on my garage. Anyone know where to find those? I know I can't be the only person who wants them. Thanks!

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I suppose most garages are wired, so manufacturers might not see a lot of call for such a product. What I've seen has been "shed lights" with PV supplies, but they're not what anyone would call stylish.

You might "roll your own." A good PV supplier ought to be able to supply a small battery-based system. Add off-the-shelf fixtures that you like, and fit them with 12 volt compact fluorescent or LED lights (also available from many PV dealers).

Below is a link to a page with some examples of small PV systems. In addition to what's listed there you would need a 12 volt deep cycle battery. I'd recommend an East Penn gel battery (just because they've given me excellent service). It makes sense to source the battery locally as it's a heavy item.

(I have no connection with this company and in fact have never traded with them, they just happened to be in my bookmarks related to solar energy.)

For example, if you want to operate two 5 watt CFs for up to 16 hours of darkness, you'd need 160Wh of energy. A 26-30 amp hour battery would supply this at no more than 50% discharge (makes it last a long time). A larger battery, say perhaps an 8G22 (group 22, 50 amp hours) would give you some extra "flex" for long strings of cloudy days.

Then you'd need a PV system which can produce this amount of energy on the minimum average insolation your area receives. For example, if you can count on an average of 3 hours of full daily sunshine on the shortest day of the year, you would need 160Wh / 3h or a 53 watt system.

Since PV panels seem to be rated at peak output, I'd suggest something more like 75 watts. So figure about $500 for the PV system and maybe another $100-200 for the battery. The battery should last 3-5 years, maybe even 8 or more for the larger sizes, in this service.

Solar Gary is MUCH more experienced than I am at this though, so if he has different advice listen to his.

Here is a link that might be useful: Small pole-mount PV systems

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 1:02AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Does the pic linked below show what you have in mind ? I suppose you could then hang it on the garage with some sort of bracket. I would not count on it giving off much light hanging on a building, since it wouldn't be in full sun, as opposed to it hanging in an open sunny area.

Here is a link that might be useful: MALIBU SOLAR HANGING CARRIAGE LIGHT

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 12:15PM
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Another approach would require a little electrical expertise, but would be much cheaper. Whether it's useful to you depends on what your goals are.

Buy a couple of coach lights you like, and a pair of solar lights that have what you consider adequate performance. Gut the solar lights and transfer the components to the coach lights. If necessary, enclose the electronics and batteries in a separate small plastic or metal box. Locate the PV panels in an area that gets full sun, using as much additional wire to extend them as necessary.

The downside here is that the usual inexpensive solar light is pretty feeble when it comes to light output. The ones I've used produce just a faint glow - great path markers, but not useful for actually seeing anything. It'd be enough to show you where the garage is, but not really enough to see to unlock it at 1am.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 4:20AM
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