What to Know About Solar Umbrellas
Solar umbrellas offer convenient access to alternative energy and a nice shady spot on your patio. What's not to love?
What are Solar Umbrellas?
Solar power has been touted as a clean, reliable source of energy for years, but it’s been slow to take hold as a popular alternative energy. While a solar electric system can dramatically lower utility bills, they’re also bulky and expensive to install.
Solar umbrellas, on the other hand, offer none of those problems. To the casual observer, a solar umbrella resembles any sleek and stylish umbrella you might see on a patio. The main difference: A solar umbrella is designed (unsurprisingly) to soak up sunlight during the day and convert it to energy that powers the LED lighting under the umbrella at night.
It’s brilliantly simple — solar umbrellas block the sun’s rays all day long, then turn around and efficiently convert that energy into solar-powered lighting. There’s no complicated set up or wiring. Just open the umbrella and let it do its thing.
Image Credits: Patricia Marroquin/Getty Images
How Do They Work?
Solar umbrellas typically pull power through a small solar panel mounted to the top of the unit so it’s constantly exposed to the sun. The unit captures sunlight and turns it into electricity through what is called a “photovoltaic effect.” That power is then stored and accessed by flipping a switch on the umbrella pole that powers the built-in LED lighting.
Benefits of Solar Umbrellas
How Much Do They Cost?
Most come in the $100-$200 range. That might seem like a lot for an umbrella, but it’s not — standard umbrellas cost nearly the same if not more. When you consider you’re essentially getting an umbrella and solar lights in one bundle, the savings speak for themselves.