Request for a design of a bright solar-powered yardlight with LEDs.

We live in a neighborhood without street lights.  Each homeowner is required have a automatic light on a pole in the middle of the front yard.  These lights are powered by a 120 volt line running underground.  These lights are constantly failing because of the shoddy way they laid the line just under the sod. 
My solution was to replace the light head with a solar light fixture that I purchased from Menards for $68.  It has 12 LEDs, small solar panels on top facing in four directions, and interior mirrors to enhance the reflection.  The problem is that it is barely adequate.  I would have preferred to use the old fixture and outfit it with a brighter set of LEDs.  It would be great if someone could come up with a simple plan for something like this.
I would like to have 24 LEDs (I could cannibalize these from an LED flashlight), a chain of small solar panels taken from solar yardlights, rechargeable batteries, and a compact circuit that would sense darkness (possible reused from a yardlight).  I will worry about mounting the solar panels outside the fixture.  Note: this cannot be an 'accent light'.  It should have the output of at least a 20 watt incandescent bulb). 

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jeff-o7 years ago
Argh, I'm working on something that is probably exactly what you need, but it just isn't close enough to being complete!  If only I had the time...  :(
lemonie7 years ago
Each homeowner is required have a automatic light on a pole in the middle of the front yard.

Why? This isn't answering your question, but who/why/what dictated that you must do this and for what reason?

L
The "Home owners Association" on many developments in the US can mandate all sorts of things, no cars on drives, no fences, what colours you can paint with   - and all bound into the deed of covenant.
rhackenb (author)  steveastrouk7 years ago
People agreed to covenants such as this because it protects the value of the home.  It prevents neighbors from parking cars on their lawn and from putting oil rigs in back yard. 

The yard light issue is actually a city ordinance.  Since the developer decided not to install street lights, this was the fall-back ordinance that the city imposes so that there is some lighting in the neighborhood at night.  Actually, I prefer this solution because I hate bright street lights.  The actual ordinance calls for a 75 watt bulb but I have never done that.  I put in a 5 watt florescent that puts out 20 watt effectively and that seems to satisfy the association.  I'm doing the same with the LED solution.  I would have preferred making my own LED light but couldn't come up with the right design.  I'm trying to entice one of you smart guys out there to come up will a prize-winning design that we can all use.
Yup. It has always been a mystery to me why people would willingly agree to let their neighbors decide what color they can paint their own house, how their lawn has to be maintained, what kind of trees and flowers they can plant and where, and all of the other restrictions that come along with covenants like that. Yet people do it all the time. Weird.
Work it backwards.

How many LED's., and how much current are they, at what forward current ? How long can they be on ? Make sure they are in highly reflective mounts, and all the useful light goes to where you want it.
rhackenb (author)  steveastrouk7 years ago
I don't have the answer to these questions.  I am looking for practical suggestions on what to use.  I probably go with superbright LEDs.  I also hear that there are things like 1 watt LEDs but I've never seen them.  For normal LEDs I think they require a 1.5 volt battery. 
Trouble is, you'll struggle to get a decent amount of solar panel to power more lights on the lamp itself.

Steve
rhackenb (author)  steveastrouk7 years ago
You're probably right but I'm trying to get a sizing of what it would take.  I'm not opposed to putting two 12-LED units in there that operate independently.  I would also be willing to buy a larger solar panel if necessary.