Solar lights are highly efficient, function completely off-grid and incorporate battery technology. But how do they actually work?

Like us, if you are nature-conscious, you might want to demystify the mechanism behind a solar light. Be it solar lights for posts or Christmas —  all of them adopt the same mechanism.

It’s fantastic how solar lights do a great job without the hassle of wiring. Luckily, understanding how solar lights work is not complicated. Solar technology has been here for a while now, and we have lots of research in place to answer your questions!

Read on to find out how solar lights work.

What Are Solar Lights?

In basic terms, solar lights are portable lights and include LED lamps, rechargeable batteries, and photovoltaic solar panels. They harness the sun’s energy to produce electricity.

You can use these solar lights both indoors and outdoors. Also, solar lights are affordable long-term alternatives to traditional lights as they do not use energy from the grid.

You can install solar lights in different places — both private and public. These days, you might even come across traffic and sign lights using solar energy. That’s not it. These solar lights are making a buzz in public events too!

What Are the Different Components in Solar Lights?

Solar LightsBefore we move on to the actual process of how solar lights work, let’s understand more about their structure. Unlike traditional lights, solar lights have extra components that help them produce renewable energy.

Typically, you’ll spot an electronic light fixture, battery, and solar photovoltaic panel with solar lights. The different components work in tandem to absorb, convert, and store solar energy.

The battery is an indispensable part of the structure. It allows you to use solar lights even in the absence of sunlight. The battery can have varying capacities based on the different solar panel sizes.

Also, the use of LEDs drastically reduces the capacity requirements of batteries and solar panels. Some solar lights also include photoreceptors to offer automatic powering features.

How Do Solar Lights Work?

Solar lights work on the photovoltaic principle effect. The panels harness energy using photovoltaic solar cells. Furthermore, they convert this AC into DC, similar to what comes from the grid.

Solar panels save the converted energy in batteries for later use. A single solar cell can produce up to 0.45 volts.

The power generated by solar panels depends on aspects such as the availability of sunlight. Solar cells play an essential part in this process by converting sunlight into electrical energy.

The many crystalline layers and chemicals in a solar cell create positively charged spaces and negatively charged electrons.

During the day, the solar panels work to absorb and convert energy from the sunlight. Also, many solar lights have photoreceptive sensors that automatically illuminate when it is dark. The solar lights repeat this cyclic process every day.

You’ll find a variety of solar lights in the market. But, regardless of their design and structure, they have the same working process.

What is the Mechanism Behind Solar Lights?

Solar LightYour solar lights consist of an array of multiple solar cells formed by wiring several panels together.

Solar cells generally use polycrystalline silicon as their primary material. Polycrystalline silicon is a semiconductor that can produce positively charged spaces and negatively charged electrons.

When the sunlight strikes these cells, the photons discharged from the sun activate the electrons and force them into the positive spaces. The panels generate direct current when electrons flow through the circuit.

Manufacturers directly wire the panels to the battery using a charge controller that protects the battery from current backflow. The solar panels stop the collection, conversion, and storage process at nighttime.

When the photoreceptors sense the absence of sunlight for the conversion process, they automatically start supplying power to the LEDs. These receptors also automatically turn off at daybreak.

Solar lights perform by repeating the same steps every day. The two most common types of solar lights are solar street lights and solar garden lights.

Can Solar Lights Work Without Sunlight?

It is natural to be curious about whether or not these cost-effective lights will work without sunshine. The good news is that there are definitive ways to charge your solar lights even without direct sunlight.

You can charge the solar lights indoors using incandescent light bulbs. The PV cells effectively respond to incandescent lamps and charge themselves. However, you need to ensure that the source lights are bright enough for this method.

On the other hand, LED lights might be more effective as sources of energy for solar lights. Like the sunlight, the LED lights produce wavelengths in the ranges of visible light, ultraviolet rays, and infrared waves.

You can also look for solar lights that come with USB charging outlets. This option will allow you to charge and operate lights even in the absence of sunlight.

Examples of Solar Lights


Unlike non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels, solar lights depend on solar energy. Regardless of their application, all solar lights follow the same mechanism. However, the material and process might differ from product to product.

Solar lights repeat a cyclic process every day to offer an uninterrupted power supply.

Now that you know how solar lights work, do you think your home is ready for one? We hope this article was able to answer all your questions about the working of solar lights.