Inexpensive solar power for the garden

 Solar technology can also be used in many small gadgets around the house.
 Solar technology can also be used in many small gadgets around the house.

Do you want to act in a climate-friendly manner and save expensive electricity? It doesn’t have to be a large photovoltaic system on the roof. Solar technology can also be used in many small gadgets around the house.

The range of possible applications ranges from garden lighting to driving the awning or pond pump to the solar patio roof. Many of them work as a stand-alone solution thanks to rechargeable batteries.

Widely used: lighting elements

Solar garden lights with ground spikes can now be found on many properties (and also in flower pots on the balcony) – as decorative balls or figures, in the shape of lanterns or as spotlights. Hanging lights look good on canopies and railings. The pergola is decorated with lantern chains, the Christmas tree in the front yard is decorated with filigree light strips. In short: solar lighting elements can be positioned very flexibly outside in places that would otherwise usually only be accessible with an extension cord from the socket. They can also be used as atmospheric path markers or accents in flower beds. “When making a selection, consumers should also pay attention to the light colour,” recommends David Köble, a trainer at the DIY Academy. “Spotlights with 2000 Kelvin spread a pleasant light. The higher the Kelvin number, the bluer and colder the light becomes.”

From dusk onwards, the lighting elements provide atmospheric points or bright zones for as long as the energy reserves stored in their batteries last. How long that is depends on the capacity of the battery and the placement. The longer the sun’s rays hit the cells at the steepest possible angle, the longer the spotlights and the like shine. Depending on the planting, however, it can be a real feat to avoid shadows from trees and bushes.

For emergencies: connection to the house network

However, solar lights alone with battery operation are not always sufficient. “When it comes to security aspects – such as the lighting of the house entrance or carport or to deter people around the building – you need lights that work reliably when they are needed,” explains David Köble. Solar lights with integrated motion detectors are suitable for this. They are available both as stand-alone variants and for connection to the household power supply. The DIY trainer recommends a brightness of 2,000 lumens or more. Good quality products cost from 30 euros and upwards.

Sun brings shade

Application number two are solar-powered sun, wind and/or rain sensors for awnings or roller shutters. They cause the shading elements to be extended when the sun is shining and retracted when it is twilight, windy or raining. Such systems have now proven themselves, according to the DIY expert. Your big advantage: Thanks to the rechargeable battery, no 220 V connection is required on the sensor. Sensors that combine all three weather functions are available from around 100 euros.

Awnings with an electric motor powered by solar power are significantly more expensive. The solar panels required for this usually have an output of around 2.5 to 3 watts. They are often installed above the awning or on the roller shutter box on the facade.

Practical in the greenhouse

Solar powered roof fans are also available. “This is a good DIY solution for a greenhouse or conservatory. With an input power of about 40 watts, you can ensure good ventilation there. And the costs are manageable at 250 to 300 euros,” says David Köble. If, on the other hand, the roof structure is to be cooled with such a fan, it should be installed by a specialist. “Then the roof skin has to be opened and a frame installed. Mistakes can easily happen here.”

sun plus water

Small-scale applications in the garden also include solar-powered irrigation systems . Complete sets are particularly easy to handle: a solar panel and a pump with a timer are attached next to a water barrel. It draws the irrigation water through a hose with a sieve and directs it to water drippers in the bed.