Solar-powered grave lights offer a way to decorate the gravesite of a loved one who has passed away. They are a sign that the person may be gone but they are not forgotten. Special wax candles designed to burn for up to seven days can be purchased for use on their own or in a cemetery lantern. This option may not be practical for people who visit the gravesite less often than once a week, however.
Styles of Solar Powered Grave Decorations
Solar-powered grave lights are available in a number of styles including:
- Vigil lights or candles
Tips for Choosing Solar Powered Grave Lighting
There are many questions to keep in mind when purchasing solar-powered lights for a grave site.
Protection Against Cloudiness
Ask whether the grave light you are considering has been treated with a UV inhibitor to guard against cloudiness over time.
Some solar-powered grave lights are designed to be mounted on a tombstone or another flat surface. Find out whether the manufacturer or distributor includes a special adhesive. If the adhesive is not included with the product, ask what is recommended for the light you have chosen.
Other models are outfitted with a stake and can be placed directly into the ground. Some people choose to place the grave light in a vase at the cemetery; this option would probably be preferred by the maintenance staff, who need to keep the lawn mowed on a regular basis.
The batteries in a solar-powered grave light are designed to last for several years. Be sure to position the light in a location where it will be in full sun to keep the batteries charged. It may take 24-48 hours to charge the batteries when you first place the light outside. If the weather is cloudy for several days, the light may not stay illuminated all night.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Is a warranty offered with the product?
- If so, are parts and labor covered?
- Is it possible to get replacement parts for the grave light?
- Will the entire unit need to be returned to the manufacturer or distributor for service?
Theft and Vandalism
In some cases, it is possible to buy insurance coverage to protect the owner against acts of vandalism. This coverage may not include theft; be sure that you have adequate coverage under your homeowner's policy for this purpose.
Cemetery rules will vary depending on location. While some cemeteries will allow solar-powered grave lights, others will not and will enforce strict rules. Some may allow you to decorate with solar-powered lights as long as you take them with you when you leave. It is best to check in with an administrator before leaving grave lights on site.
Purchasing Solar Powered Grave Lights
Solar powered grave lights can be purchased online or in stores and typically range in price from about $20 to $100 depending on the style. You can find these at:
- Eternal Light: an online store with several religious and non-religious grave light options that can be purchased online or via the phone.
- Amazon: here you will find hundreds of unique options to choose from including floral lights, religious lights, and other non-religious options.
- Alibaba: an online shop with tons of solar power lighting options to select from including candle grave lights, ceramic options, and floral choices.
Grave Lights in the News
Solar-powered grave lights were the source of controversy recently, as Cheshire officials informed bereaved parents that they would not be permitted to memorialize their son in this way.
The Parents' Perspective
Jean and Peter Robinson wanted to install two lights on their son Sean's grave. The 10-year-old boy had died from what was described as a "brain disorder." Shortly before his death, he asked his parents "not to leave him in the dark."
The Cemetery's Regulations
Council officials indicated that having the graveyard illuminated at night may attract vandals and encourage other forms of antisocial behavior. In 2005, officials in Flintshire, England, announced that excessive grave decorations would be removed from a local cemetery. The definition of "excessive" grave decorations included:
- Grave lights
Grave owners would be permitted to erect only a tombstone and one vase at each grave site. Council officials cited health and safety concerns for cemetery maintenance workers as the reason for this course of action. Keeping the grounds well-manicured is much more difficult when extra items are placed on the grave site.
Check With the Cemetery First
If you like the idea of placing a solar-powered light on a loved one's grave, do check with cemetery officials before installation to ensure that these types of memorials are permitted. If that particular cemetery doesn't allow lights installed in the ground, you may still be able to place the memorial light in a vase which can be moved when staff needs to cut the lawn.