How a Solar Lamp Post Works

Although we think of solar power as a modern technology, the development of this technology started all the way back in the 1860′s.  Technology development stagnated for quite some time, but the goal has always been the same: create a mechanism to convert sunlight into electrical energy.  That’s exactly what a solar lamp post does.

One or more “solar cells” are located in a discrete location on the lamp unfortunately, pretty solar cells haven’t hit the stores yet.  This solar cell is connected to a small internal battery that is charged throughout the day.  At dusk, the lamp switches on and the stored battery power is used to illuminate the light bulb inside the lamp.

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Because the commercial availability of this technology is relatively new, there are quite a few misconceptions about the limitations of solar technology.

Misconceptions of Solar Powered Lighting

As with anything new, there are a few misconceptions about the limitations of solar powered lighting.  A few of those misconceptions are:

  • Solar powered lights are not as bright as electric lights
  • Solar powered lights can’t stay on very long after charging
  • Solar powered light fixtures are not as well made as standard lights

solar lamp post lights with planter

While these statements were true several years ago, that is simply no longer the case.  With the advancements in light bulb and LED lighting technology, solar lamp post lights are now just as bright, if not brighter, than electric lights.  These latest light bulbs, because they require less power, also give the bulbs the ability to burn longer than they did in the past.  For example, five years ago a solar lamp post may only be able to burn for four hours before draining the battery and requiring another day of sunlight to recharge.  Today, those four hours has become eight to ten hours on a single charge.

Lastly, solar powered light fixtures used to be of lesser quality because the solar cells and battery were so expensive that the mechanical fixture was made with cheap components to keep the cost of the overall unit down.  Because the solar cell and battery technology has become much more cost effective over the last few years, the quality of materials used for the mechanical portion of the lamp posts has increased significantly.

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Benefits of a Solar Lamp Post

The main premise behind using solar technology is to conserve energy.  If sunlight is used for power generation, standard electrical power is not needed.  The use of an already occurring source of energy just makes sense.  Now that the technology has come far enough to make it cost effective, the solution is very practical for many homeowners.

  • Because solar powered devices don’t require a connection to wired electrical power, the location of the lamp post is not limited to where standard electrical power is already available.  This benefit is one of the main selling points of many solar powered devices because of the ease of installation.

solar lamp post with planter base

  • One other benefit that many homeowners take advantage of is the availability of decorative lamp posts.  Again, with solar technology, no wiring is required so there is no need for access panels that normally exist near the bottom of each lamp post.  Without this wiring requirement, solar lamp posts often come with options such as a solar lamp post with planter or other ornamental designs.


Although wired lamp posts do make sense in some situations, a solar powered outdoor lamp post may be just what you’re looking for.  From the ease of installation to power savings to decorative options, a lamp post powered by the sun should definitely be on your list of considerations for your outdoor lighting needs.