Hopefully you read my article on Solar Landscape Lighting. In the article I described my journey to create a sustainable landscape lighting system using standard off the shelf landscape lighting fixtures and components, but with a twist. No AC and no transformer; just pure power from the sun. In the article I mentioned that I would probably upgrade the solar panel in the near future. Well sure enough, the future is here! Prices of components have continued to drop and I couldn’t pass up a deal on a 50W panel. In doing so, this allows me the ability to triple the number of the light fixtures. I had already sized the solar controller and battery to accommodate the expansion. Night pictures are tough to take (for amatures) with a low cost digital camera but I want to show the results. The above picture is of 5 standard landscape light fixtures with 21 pin LED bulbs using less than 10 watts total. This is a vast improvement over any “off the shelf” solar landscape lighting system.
- HQRP 50 Watt Solar Panel: At Amazon.com they are priced at about $160. The panel works great, but I had to rework the cable connectors as they use a unique connector that I was unable to match. I used a marine grade connector instead. If you remember; I started with a 15W panel that cost $100. This works out to about $3.2 per watt compared to $6.6 per watt with the old panel.
6 – 144940 20W Manor House Light Fixtures: individually priced at around $15, this box set of 6 drops the per fixture cost to less than $9. They are readily available at Lowes. Since wattage rating is not an issue; these fixtures are at the low end of the price point and easy to use. The heads are easily adjustable and the bulbs can be changed out without any tools.
- 6 – MR16 21 Pin LED Light bulb from LED-Mate: I am not 100% satisfied with this supplier but I have had fewer problems with their bulbs than others and they provide you a two year warranty. Their prices have continued to fall and are around $8. If you buy more, they will give you a price break.
This project started about 2 years ago, and the components have continued to get better in quality and the prices continue to drop. Granted, I have spent well over $1000 in creating this system, but with a lot of trial and error. If I were able to create the system from scratch using the components I currently have deployed the cost of the system would look like this:
As mentioned, the 21 pin LED light bulbs do not have near the output light found in traditional landscape lighting fixtures so to create enough useable light, additional light fixtures are required. Adding 6 more fixtures to the system made a dramatic impact and at this point adding more fixtures will cost me about 20 bucks each since I have already incurred the cost of the system backbone.
Shoot me a note if you are considering a similar project at firstname.lastname@example.org.