Solar lighting and other clean energy sources have grown in popularity over the last five years, owing primarily to global legislative changes that make the products more accessible and affordable to the average consumer. Major manufacturers in the United Kingdom predict that solar panel sales will increase by a whopping 1000 percent in just two years. Laws in the country were recently changed to allow those who capture energy to sell it back to the power grid, making solar energy profitable rather than costly. The UK also provided low-interest or no-interest loans for the costly retrofits. In Canada, the government recently announced a 150 percent increase in tax rebates for homeowners who retrofit their homes. The United States has also strengthened federal legislation in favor of solar power, including funding for green jobs, increased solar tax credits for both home and commercial operators, and the currently pending "Energy Bill," which includes even more incentives for solar manufacturers.
While the initial cost of installing and maintaining an entire solar home system can be high, the cost of installing and maintaining individual solar outdoor lighting is actually less burdensome and less expensive to maintain than a traditional system. Landscapes frequently contain rocks, cement walls, sidewalks, and even roadways that are inaccessible by electrical wire. Underground wire is also vulnerable to damage from the elements and pests. A broken wire in one location has an impact on an entire string of lights. Individually powered solar lighting, on the other hand, includes its own solar panel, making installation as simple as placing the post or holder in the ground. There is no external wiring to run underground or protect against extreme weather conditions. The panels only need to be wiped clean and kept in a sunny location.
Increased market access generates consumer demand, and manufacturers have responded by expanding their product lines. Solar manufacturers are now developing accent solar for the home and garden, atmosphere twinkle lights for holiday or outdoor use, residential and commercial lamp post lights, solar street lights, solar shed lights and motion sensors, solar address lights, and even sophisticated solar security lighting that does not require a hard-wired source to operate during power outages. The applications have also expanded to smaller everyday items, and it is not uncommon to find stores selling basic lighting items in solar form, such as a solar keyring, solar penlight pointer, or e-cigarette lighter.
Because of the increased demand, consumers are no longer limited to modern styles. Manufacturers offer classic and even ornate designs in a variety of finishes, which are especially popular as outdoor environment accessories. This application is also applicable in the commercial context. Products are now powerful enough to provide parking lot safety lighting and driving lights in warehouse delivery areas. They line driveways and highlight advertising signs on office buildings as a decorative feature. They also provide security lighting, which deters theft even if there is a power outage, which would affect traditional lighting sources.
Because the lighting is individually powered and not connected like traditional fixtures, it may be vulnerable to theft, especially in commercial settings. Manufacturers are becoming aware of the problem, and Japanese manufacturer Kyocera is even inviting consumers to submit ideas to combat this and other issues with solar lighting in order to improve product efficacy. It is obvious that the advantages of solar energy products are widely known. Energy conservation implies a reduction in reliance on the Earth's natural but finite resources. Solar energy does not need to be harvested, and no plants or people are harmed in the process. The technology is becoming more efficient, and the energy source is free. Previously, simply knowing that solar energy was beneficial did not give consumers the ability to use it. It is now easier than ever to purchase a solar product, making it easier than ever to contribute to the preservation of the Earth for future generations.