The most common use of solar lighting, also referred to as daylighting, allows natural sunlight into homes using suitably sized high-efficiency windows and roof-mounted skylights and solar tubes. The judicious placement of windows and skylights not only minimizes glare but can also offer solar warmth during cold days while avoiding overheating on warm days.
Outdoor solar lighting is a practical use of solar panels and batteries to store solar electricity generated during the day to illuminate lights at night. Some systems employ a solar panel and battery system mounted separately from the lights. Most systems are a self-contained light/solar panel/battery combined into one easy-to-install package. As with all solar-powered devices, placement and sizing are critical to ensure the panels are adequately exposed to sunlight to provide sufficient lighting power over long winter nights.
Common home appliances can consume a large portion – up to 20% percent – of a household's total energy, so it comes as no surprise that solar-powered devices are now commanding the attention of those keen to reduce their energy footprint. The list below is a sampling of some of the more popular products.
- Solar ovens: Common varieties of solar ovens include box cookers for everyday cooking use at medium to high temperatures; curved concentrator cookers for larger cooking loads at higher temperatures; and low-cost panel cookers used where sunshine is reliable.
- Solar flashlights: These units use bright LED bulbs powered by batteries that store the energy converted by small PV panels from solar or artificial light sources.
- Solar exterior security cameras: Powered by solar energy stored in a local battery, motion sensors trigger the camera to record video clips to a memory card and cloud-based storage.
- Portable solar generator: Some units come with USB output plugs, AC outlets, and DC ports to recharge small electrical/electronic devices or power a fan or lamp.
- Solar exterior motion sensor lights: Another form of security for homes and businesses, these lights use solar energy to illuminate bright LEDs for a set time when the built-in motion sensor detects movement.