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Solar lights are cost-effective and are great for DIY projects.

While landscape lighting is a great way of extending the hours in which you can enjoy your landscape, professional landscapers agree that solar lights don’t do the job. “Solar lights are cost-effective and are great for DIY projects, but the quality just isn’t there,” says Matt Barton of Copper Creek Landscaping, Inc. in Mead, WA.

Top reasons pros avoid solar lighting:

  • Light quality - “Solar doesn’t have the bright light that LED and halogen provide,” says TJ Wilcoxson of Alexon Design Group in Gilbert, AZ. “It’s also a cold blue color,” he says. Barton concurs. “It’s a very pale blue color, and they don’t put out much light.” Most landscapers prefer a warm amber or white to the anemic blue tone of solar.
  • Unattractive fixtures - The manufacturers of solar lights haven’t yet made them available with long-lasting, beautifully-made fixtures.
  • Climate issues - “In areas where there’s not much sun, solar lights may not function six months of the year,” says Barton. This can make solar lights ineffective for shady locations or in overcast climates.
  • Climate issues - Solar lights just don’t last. Even with perfect care, the batteries, internal wiring and other parts give out after a year or two.

The future may look brighter

While solar lights aren’t currently the best solution for lighting a landscape effectively, there’s always hope for the future. Gerry DuBreuil of Belknap Landscape Company, Inc. of Gilford, NH tries to keep an open mind. “If they ever get to the point where they can deliver the light quality with a good-quality fixture, we’d be willing to consider it,” he says. “LED lighting has come a long way in the last few years; that might happen with solar.” Yet landscapers have to exercise caution when trying new products. “We need to ensure quality in workmanship to our clients, so we don’t normally jump on new technology until it’s been tested in the market for a few years,” he says.

For now, most professionals choose wired low-voltage LED lighting, because it’s energy-efficient, provides long-lasting fixtures and bulbs, and is easier to install and maintain than halogen lighting.

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