Solar power lights are rather ingenious inventions that have many uses. Who would have thought you could use the sun to power a light, or a flashlight? Solar powered flashlights are pretty cool little gadgets. They generally look quite similar to a regular flashlight. They have a simple switch that turns them on and off. They have an area on one end that emits light...sufficient to allow to be used at night or in any dark area.
A solar powered flashlight uses sunlight energy, converted into electrical energy in a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell or panel that sits on the outside of the flashlight, that is then stored in a battery. Most solar powered flashlights use LED or Light Emitting Diode lamps rather than an incandescent light bulb, as LED's take less electrical current to operate, and they last longer. While an incandescent light lasts, on average, for about 1000 hours, an LED lasts for an average of 100,000 hours.
Similarly, solar charged batteries that are used in the solar powered flashlight, as compared to the normal, single use nickel, lithium, or cadmium batteries generally seen in flashlights, usually will not require replacement for about two years with steady use. The comparison rate is about 15 hours for a regular battery, compared to around 2500 hours for a solar rechargeable battery.
To maximize the usage of your solar charged batteries, you should leave the flashlight on for 15+ hours at least once a month to fully expend the charge. Rechargeable batteries have a memory effect. Therefore if you continually use the flashlight without ever fully discharging it, it will eventually only recharge to a lower (memory) level, and never return to 100 percent of its available power.
For best results, keep your solar powered flashlight on a window sill when it is not in use, where the solar panel is exposed to the maximum amount of sunlight. If you're not using it regularly, be particularly mindful to turn it on...and leave it on...as described above, at least once a month.
You can find solar powered flashlights in most hardware stores today. They're great for camping and emergency use. Every vehicle and every home should have one. If you wonder why...think about those times that you've needed a flashlight in a hurry only to find that the batteries were dead, and you had no spares...or didn't know where they were!
Some amazingly innovative designs are being created for solar flashlights...with add-ons like siren, flasher, cell phone charger, etc... in addition to the basic flashlight design. There are also any number of solar flashlight key chains are on the market today. The price range varies, depending on the uniqueness of the style, the outside casing, and additional functions.
If you're interested in "spreading the light" in a very solar way, you may want to visit bogolight.com. The name stands for "Buy One, Give One." SunNight Solar, the company that operates the BoGoLight Program is a Limited Liability Company founded by Mark Bent in 2006. Having served in the American Diplomatic Corps in a number of developing countries, Mark saw the need for light in many places, and found a way to provide it. When you purchase one solar flashlight at BoGoLight, or through one of its affiliates, such as InHabitat, an identical solar flashlight will be donated to a non-profit who collects and ships the lights to areas of need throughout the world.
What a unique and wonderful way to "shine a little" light...in a very solar way...and light the dark for those who cannot see. Solar powered lights are the wave of the future.