What to look for when buying solar LED marine lanterns

20th Jan 2020
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What To Look For When Buying Solar LED Marine Lanterns

With a wide array of solar LED marine lanterns to choose from, it can be difficult to know which is best as there are many things to consider when buying solar LED marine lanterns. We will be concentrating on the key factors to be considered: Solar Panel Efficiency, Battery Technology and Environmental Conditions. This guide helps you make the best choice.

Solar Panel Efficiency

Monocrystalline versus Polycrystalline solar panels

Marine lanterns come with either monocrystalline or polycrystalline (also called multicrystalline) solar panels. Fundamentally, the difference between the two is based on the types of crystals used. Monocrystalline solar panels are made from a single crystal of the highest grade silicon and polycrystalline solar panels from many silicon fragments melted together. Both types produce energy from the sun and turn it into electricity, and are made from silicon. However, there are some important differences between these two types to be aware of:

ElementsMonocrystallinePolycrystalline
EfficiencyMore efficient (5%)Less efficient
Life ExpectancyHigher lifespanLower lifespan
Temperature ToleranceHeat tolerantLess heat tolerant
Low Light ConditionBetter performanceWorse performance
CostHigher costLower cost

(Sources: Photovoltaics Report; Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Report)

Battery Technology

Li-ion versus Ni-MH batteries

There are two different types of batteries used in solar LED marine lanterns: Lithium-ion (abbreviated Li-ion) batteries, or Nickel Metal Hydride (abbreviated NiMH or Ni-MH) batteries. Both battery types have some distinguishing features that make one type more efficient than the other in many regards:

ElementsLi-ionNi-MH
Self-Discharge RateLower rateHigher rate
Recharge RateFasterSlower
Temperature ToleranceHeat tolerantLess heat tolerant
Life ExpectancyHigher lifespanLower lifespan
CostHigher costLower cost

(Source: A Battery Comparison)

Environmental Conditions

Environmental Conditions

Dust storms are among the most severe environmental problems in certain regions of the World. The Middle East is one of the regions most affected by dust, next to Africa. Dust storms or blowing dust are frequent during most of the year, causing a variety of problems. One of the major problems is a considerable reduction of visibility, reducing the efficiency of and causing damage to solar devices. (Source: ResearchGate: Dust Storms)

Solar marine lanterns should feature an IP rating of 68 (ask for the certificate). Devices backed by an international standard rating of IP68 are deemed fit to withstand dust, dirt and sand.

As seen in previous paragraphs, monocrystalline solar panels and Li-ion batteries can better stand warmer environments. In addition, monocrystalline solar panels perform better in low light conditions, and are not hazardous to the environment compared to other panels available in the market.

Keep all of the important factors above in mind when buying a solar LED marine lantern and rest assured you will be making a smart purchase. Check out our more detailed technical notes on solar panel and battery efficiency. VIEW TECHNOTES