What is solar power?
The term “solar power” is a short way of describing a process of converting sunlight into electrical energy.
What is a solar panel?
A solar panel is the intermediary device made of silicon cells that converts the sunlight to electrical energy.
How does the conversion from sunlight to energy occur?
When sunlight strikes the solar panel, it frees the electrons in the silicon. Once freed, these electrons can be routed as electrical current. This electrical current can be used for some immediate purpose or stored in a battery for later use.
Do I need to buy a solar panel to make your lights work?
No, you do not need to purchase a solar panel separately. Most of our light fixtures have one or more solar panels integrated into their frames. A few models come with detached solar panels that are connected by cables to the light fixtures.
Are there different kinds of solar panels?
Yes, but going into details about the panel type is beyond the scope of this FAQ. We use high-quality monocrystalline panels, which contain only one kind of silicon in the solar cells. These panels are known for their charging efficiency.
As an extra benefit, in nearly all our fixtures we protect the panels with cleanable, durable tempered glass to help ensure their longevity. Cheaper panels with plastic laminate will become weathered and lose charging capacity over time.
How do your outdoor solar lights work?
During the day, the light fixture’s solar panel collects sunlight and converts it into electrical power that is stored in the fixture’s rechargeable, Lithium Ion (Li-ion) battery pack.
When the sun goes down, the light-emitting diodes (LEDs) begin using the stored power in the battery to provide light.
How does the light turn on automatically at night?
Each light has a small photocell device built-in to the fixture. When this component senses the ambient light level is low, the LEDs go on. When the sun comes up, the LEDs turn off, and charging begins again.
Will the LEDs stay on all night?
We aim for dusk-to-dawn performance on a fully charged battery, but performance may vary if the fixture didn’t receive enough direct sunlight during the day.
How long does it take to fully charge the battery?
Generally it takes about six hours of direct sunlight on a Gama Sonic fixture’s solar panel(s) to fully charge the internal battery pack(s).
Where should I install a solar light?
Install a fixture in a location that the solar panel will receive full, direct sunlight during the day. The brighter and more direct sunlight, the more likely that the battery will charge to capacity.
Where should I not install a solar light?
Do not install a fixture in a shady area. Filtered sunlight will not be converted into electrical current by the solar panel.
Do not install the fixture in an area where solar panel is put into the shadow of objects like a tree or the eaves of your roof.
In these situations, where there is not enough direct sunlight on the panel, the battery will not charge, and the performance of the light will be poor at night.
Do not install the fixture where the photocell might be activated by other night-time light sources, such as bright street lights or porch lights. Under these conditions, the photocell might be tricked into thinking there still is daylight and will never allow the LEDs in the solar fixture to turn on.
What if there is no location where the fixture would receive six hours of direct sunlight during the day?
A Gama Sonic solar light might not be a good fit for this setting, as the light probably will grow dim or go out before the night is through.
I don’t expect all-night performance from my solar light fixture—just night is fine. How much sun do I need during the day?
In general, for every hour of direct sun on the fixture, you will get about 1.5 hours of light at night.
Why do you use LEDs as your light source?
The energy efficiency of LEDs makes them ideal for providing light within the constraints of the light fixture’s battery capacity. They also don’t need replacing, eliminating the hassles associated with traditional incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs.
Does light from LEDs look the same as light from incandescent light bulbs?
LEDs don’t provide multidirectional light like that emitted from a traditional incandescent lightbulb. That’s why we created the patented cone reflector for Gama Sonic light fixtures. When the LEDs in a Gama Sonic solar light fixture shine against the cone, their light is dispersed in all directions, creating a glow and light-dispersal pattern that’s more like that offered by an incandescent light bulb but without the excessive energy usage.
How long will the LED last?
The LEDs are not replaceable by consumers and should never need replacing. LEDs generally last 100,000 hours (or about 34 years at 8 hours per night). They are soldered into place onto a circuit board or module.
How bright is the light from a Gama Sonic light fixture?
Our fixtures do not offer the brightness associated with similarly sized electric-powered fixtures. Most people use the wattage generated by an incandescent bulb as an indicator of its brightness. In comparison, our smaller fixtures probably have a brightness like that offered by a 10-watt light bulb. Some of our largest fixtures provide output more like a 30-watt or 40-watt bulb.
What is the relationship between light color temperature and brightness?
Light temperature is measured on the Kelvin scale. We find that light in the 6000-degrees Kelvin range (often described as bright white or 6000K) is about 15-percent brighter than light in the 3000-degrees Kelvin range (often described as warm white or 3000K).
Therefore, to maximize the brightness, most of our fixtures use LEDs in the 6000-degrees Kelvin range (6000K). However, the color of this light is a blue hue, and some people don’t prefer it. We offer some fixtures with LEDs in the 3000-degrees Kelvin (3000K) range for anyone who wants to sacrifice brightness for a more traditional color temp.
Why should I choose a solar light fixture if it looks different and provides less light than an electric or gas-powered fixture?
You shouldn’t pick a light fixture that doesn’t serve your lighting needs.
But if a Gama Sonic fixture can provide enough brightness, you’ll be quite pleased with the money you save every day that you use it.
While most outdoor electric light fixtures are brighter than solar fixtures, you pay for every minute of that brightness in your electric bill. With a Gama Sonic fixture, there’s no usage expense, and you’ll be helping the earth by using clean, green energy.
Can’t you just add more LEDs to your fixtures to make them brighter?
Yes, any solar light fixture could be made brighter with the addition of more LEDs, but the additional LEDs would place more demands on the battery. Our goal is to provide light fixtures that last the night on a full charge of the battery. To achieve the desired duration, sometimes we have to sacrifice total brightness.
Why not just put in a bigger battery so there is extra power for more LEDs?
We do that in our larger light fixtures, and we then are able to increase the number of LEDs and their total luminosity.
But a higher-capacity battery isn’t of any value if the solar panels can’t charge it to that higher capacity. Increasing the charging power of the panels means increasing their size. That’s not an option in any of our fixtures. We’ve already maxed out the surface area we devote to the panels.
We design all each of our light fixtures to provide a full night of light that is as bright as can be after a day’s worth of sunlight on the fixture’s solar panels.
Is there an on/off switch I can use to turn the light on when I need it?
All of our light fixtures have an on/off switch in the top—usually on the inside. However, it is not exactly the same as the on/off switch for a traditional electrical light.
Setting the switch to the off position does what you would expect: the LEDs won’t turn on—even when it’s dark out.
Setting the switch to the on position gives control to the photocell to turn on the LEDs when it’s dark. The only way you can make the LEDs turn on when there is light outside is to cover the photocell.
What do the “summer/winter” or “high/low” switches do?
Some of our fixtures have switches inside the top with either of these labels. The summer (aka high) setting ensures the maximum LED brightness, while the winter (aka low) setting reduces brightness for increased light duration at night. Use of the different settings is a matter of customer preference.
What sort of maintenance is required with solar lights?
There is virtually no maintenance required for solar lights. For best performance, occasionally clean the panel surface to keep it free of dust and dirt. Some people bring their fixtures indoors in the winter to help extend the lifespan, though this is not necessary.
You may also need to replace the batteries after about three years.
How do I replace the batteries?
Your instruction manual will provide exact procedures. Here are a few tips to help.
Remove the top of the fixture, and look on the inside of the top for a battery door, usually near the LEDs. Sometimes there will not be a door, and you will need to remove the screws that secure the circuit board to the top to access the battery.
On accent lights, look for the battery compartment on the back of the solar panel or underneath the cap of the light. You might have to unscrew a panel inside the lens cap to access the batteries. On our shed lights, look on the the back of the light fixture.
Most of our fixtures used specialized Li-ion batteries with a plugged end that are available in our online store. Remove the existing battery to check the required replacement type before ordering. Contact customer support with any questions about identifying and ordering the proper battery
Why is my solar light not working?
If your solar light does not turn on at night, you may be experiencing one or more of the following problems.
- Light is not turned on
Remember that there is an on/off switch that must be set to on for the fixture to light up at night. However, before first use, we recommend leaving the fixture turned off to receive two days of full direct sun.
- Battery is not fully charged
If the fixture worked on the first night but subsequently is not turning on or is going dim after a short amount of time, the battery may not be getting charged to capacity. Make sure the fixture is placed in an area where the solar panel gets the maximum amount of full, direct sunlight every day.
- Too much shade
Ensure that the solar panel is not installed in a shady area, for example, in the shadow of a tree or a house. If necessary, move to an area that gets full direct sunlight.
- Other light sources confusing the photocell
If the solar panel is located too close to street lights, porch lights, or other lights, the photocell (light sensing device) may turn off the fixture. Relocate the fixture or eliminate those other light sources.
Batteries may need replacing
If your fixture is about three years old, the battery probably will need replacing. Most of our fixtures used specialized Li-ion batteries with a plugged end that are available in our online store.
Make sure you open your fixture to check your battery type before ordering. Contact customer support
with any questions about identifying and ordering the proper battery.
What do I do if my solar lights still won’t work?
Gama Sonic light fixtures should work out of the box for a limited time. For best lighting results, you should allow fixtures to charge their batteries a couple of days to reach their full potential.
If you have followed all the troubleshooting steps listed above and still cannot get your fixture to work, contact our customer service via our website contact form
or by calling 1-800-835-4113.