When thinking about buying your next LED diode powered floodlight you have many aspects to go through and it can be a very long process to find the best light for your exact needs. Today we will try to give you an introduction to what aspects you need to consider before buying your LED diode powered floodlight.
Area or spot that needs to be illuminated
The first thing to be considered when purchasing a solar flood light is area or spot that needs to be illuminated. This is the most important aspect, because, based on the area, you will choose the right LED flood light type, level of brightness and durability of light. There are many types of places that can be illuminated with a flood light and flood light manufacturers are trying to make solar flood lights suitable to most situations and areas. Here I will list some of the most popular places, where LED solar flood lights are being used.
- Front door – Probably the most popular place that gets illuminated with solar flood lights is front door. Solar flood lights are perfect front door lights when combined together with motion sensor. Motion sensor detects motion at night and instantly turns on the light. This is useful for two reasons. First, you can safely walk to your house entrance at night and you will not have problems seeing keyhole when opening doors. Second, if any burglars or other unwanted persons walk by your property, flood light will be turned on and everyone will be able to see, who is walking in your property. And this leads to second most popular area, where solar flood lights are used.
- Around the house – Solar flood lights are often placed around the house or other properties together with security cameras. If you do not have a security camera with night vision, you will probably need a solar flood light that can illuminate area, where security camera is filming, so it can catch any unwanted persons walking in your property at night.
- Around the backyard and garden – Solar flood lights are no just used around a house or other properties for security reasons, but also as decoration lights for backyard and garden. People, who like to decorate their backyards and gardens with different plants, statues, paths, fountains and many other garden decorations, are using solar flood lights to illuminate their beautiful garden at night.
- Parking lots, Driveways, Streets – LED lights are perfect for larger area illumination like parking lots, driveways and streets. LED lights last much longer than other type of lights and consume much less energy, so they will save a lot of money when used in places that need lots of illumination.
- Places without electricity – There are places without any possibilities to connect light to electricity or charge its batteries. This is a perfect place, where to use a solar flood light. In these types of places, like sheds, tracks in woods and many other places, solar lighting is the only solution to illuminate the area at night. Solar flood lights are not just used in smaller sheds, garages in city or countryside, but also used in larger cities around the world, for example in Africa, where there are no electricity and solar lighting is the only possible lighting source in these places.
Solar flood light types
Solar flood lights can be divided into six categories – security flood lights, landscape flood lights, flood lights without a motion sensor, external solar panel flood lights, all in one fixture flood lights and hybrid flood lights.
- Security solar flood lights. Security solar flood lights are the most popular type of solar flood lights. Security flood lights differ from other types of flood lights with a motion sensor. Motion sensor is used to detect motion in the night. When motion is detected in front of the lamp, light is instantly turned on. Security flood lights have different detection ranges, but average detection range is 180 degrees. There are different types of motion detectors. Some have adjustable illumination times, on others you can set brightness level, when motion detector needs to start working, and when to stop working, so it does not turn on the flood light in day. There are also motion detectors with adjustable sensitivity. High sensitivity will turn the light on even when larger bugs will fly in front of the light. Lower sensitivity will react only on people or other larger objects moving by the light.
- Landscape solar flood lights. Landscape solar flood lights are used to illuminate different areas outside the house. Landscape LED flood lights differ from other types of flood lights, with their stand position. Regular solar flood lights are placed on walls or other places higher off the ground, to illuminate area under the light. Landscape flood lights are set into the ground and illuminate object in front of it, not bellow it. Landscape flood lights usually have special mounts that keeps them steady into the ground.
- Solar flood lights without a motion sensor. These types of flood lights are used in areas, where continuous illumination is needed. As motion sensor helps to save more battery life, so light can illuminate with intervals, solar flood lights without a solar panel usually have batteries with much more capacity, so they can last throughout a night.
- External solar panel solar flood lights. They are usually the same as regular security flood lights, as most of them have separate solar panel. Attachable solar panel is needed, because it can be difficult to place the flood light in your desired area, so sun can charge its batteries through solar panel. External solar panel usually have 1 or more meters long cable, so the solar panel can be placed separately of the flood light in an area, where direct sunlight will reach the solar panel.
- All in one fixture solar flood lights. These flood lights are opposite to external solar panel flood lights. They have all parts integrated in a single light fixture. This means that lamp, solar panel and motion sensor cannot be detached one from another. These types of LED solar flood lights are mostly used as decoration lights, because single fixture lamps usually look better than other types of flood lights and fits different interiors.
- Hybrid flood lights. This is the least popular type of solar flood lights. These types of LED solar flood lights have got both solar panel and wired cable power options. This means that you can attach the flood light to electricity and power it with direct current, when solar flood lights battery runs out.
Light level or how much light a LED floodlight produces is a crucial factor as some flood-lights will be bright enough to light up all your backyard but others will barely cover your garage door. And that means that you need to get the exact measurements of how much lumens a particular light source gives off. A lumen is a measurement of light that expresses how much total light output a particular light-source creates. If you think about a candle then it will radiate around 12 lumens and this is the measuring point that is used as for example a 23 Watt CFL light will create around 1500 lumens and this can be like a reference point for you. This means that you need to check the lumen output of any of the lights you want to buy and take this as the total light output measurement as wattage, diode count and intensity does not matter if your light creates a low lumen output.
After you know the lumen output of a LED light you can also look at the light intensity or spread but these are much harder to find and usually the manufacturer will just say that it has a 120 or so degree light angle. This light angle means that all those lumens will be produced in an angle that is of that stated size so if a light source creates 180 degree angle beam of light it will cover the whole space beneath it but if it only produces 90 degrees then only half of the space beneath it will be illuminated.
Another thing to take into consideration is the light color or the spectral output of your light as this will show you what will be the “color” of that bulb. There are usually two most common color variations and that are Daylight ~6000K and Warm White ~3000K. LED diodes in most cases create that daylight spectrum and that is a full spectrum light that will allow you to see everything in its true colors unlike the warm white that will skew your perspective to the Yellow side and things will appear more yellow than they should just like under those old HID streetlights.
There are four types of batteries used in led solar flood lights – Ni-Cd, Ni-MH, LiFeP04 and Lead Acid. Basically, Ni-Cd and Ni-MH batteries can be found in smaller and less powerful flood lights and LiFeP04 and Lead Acid batteries can be found in high end solar flood lights. To learn more about each of these battery types, read our solar flood light battery guide.
Flood light durability is and important aspect when choosing a proper solar flood light. Solar flood lights that are made just for outside usage will usually be much more durable and have more quality than universal flood lights. If you want the top quality flood light, always look for lights that are weather proof, have metal casing and extra toughened light screen. These flood lights can stand practically any weather conditions and can also be used on colder temperatures in winter. If you live in a warm area, where it does not rain a lot, or you need to use flood light indoors, or in half closed area, you can go with cheaper LED solar flood lights with plastic casings. They will not be so tough, but will be good enough for many occasions. Solar flood lights with plastic casings can cost even 5 times cheaper than flood lights with metal casings.
LED diodes are a very small light sources so they should not have to take up a lot of space in any LED floodlight fixture but because there are other components in the mix these fixtures can get quite large. Before choosing the best fixture consider where you place it and how much space do you have there. As the sizes go these light can be as small as 5×5 inches (12.7 x 12.7 cm) or as big as 20 x 20 inches (50 x 50 cm) so be sure you are prepared to attach your LED light if it would be at either one of those ranges.
For solar powered lights it is a whole new story as solar panels are usually big and they will be considerably wider than your LED floodlight so keep this in mind if you are thinking about getting a solar powered floodlight. These panels are usually detachable and can be put on your roof but that does not mean they take up less space as you still need to place them somewhere and a very small or inclined rooftop cannot cut it for this purpose.
Before buying a solar flood light always check light manufacturer. Solar flood lights are made by many manufacturers across the world, but there are not that much quality LED solar flood light manufacturers. We try to review only well-known solar flood light manufacturers that have proved their quality with not just a single product, but line with quality solar flood lights. Some of the most popular and trusted solar flood light manufacturers that we can definitely recommend are: Cooper lighting, eLEDing, Maxsa, MicroSolar, Reusable Revolution and Sunforce. To view a list of our recommended flood light manufacturers, visit our reviews by brand section.
LED Solar VS Plug-In LED
The question weather to get a solar or non-solar LED floodlight is a tricky one as you need to assess you situation and know things like – solar lights are usually dimmer or that their batteries will not last more than 3 years in day-to-day usage. But to fully know if a solar option is for you, you have to think if your living location has enough sun year round that could provide enough electricity from that solar panel to constantly recharge your light. Of course solar power lights also have some advantages as they are completely free to run and they don’t need those lousy electricity cables to provide the juice. But from the other side plug-in LED floodlights will never run out of electricity and they will be cheaper. So consider all these factors and think about the spot where you want to install your light and if there are any electricity sockets nearby or the sun shines all year round.
All in One fixture or Separate Solar Panel?
When buying a solar powered floodlight you will have to consider either to buy a complete fixture with solar panel built inside the light itself or to get a light where solar panel is detachable or separate and install it anywhere you like. This question again returns to your specific location as that will determine whether a complete fixture with a solar panel on top will be sufficient enough or you will need to install your solar panel on the roof to get more sunlight. Separate solar panel floodlights usually is the best bet as they have that option to place that panel anywhere but you will have to put in more work to attach it so weigh these decisions and choose what works best for you.
The price of your LED light of course is one of the main factors to consider before buying your floodlight and these lights can cost from a couple of dollar to hundreds of dollars depending on all the previous factors. Price is the main aspect to check if you are on a budget and there will always be a floodlight that is cheaper than others in its class but will perform just as good. Price can vary depending on all of those previous factors but the most changes you will see between solar and plug-in LED floodlights as solar lights need solar panels, batteries and other technology but the plug-in lights just need diodes and a power converter to work properly. I would advise to check all of the previous factors first and then if you have a choice of multiple lights you can take the cheapest one.