Can I Use The Sun To Charge Outdoor Glowing Materials?

Can I use the sun to charge my outdoor glow painting, sculpture, resin casting etc.?

The easy answer to this question is that yes the sun will absolutely charge any glow in the dark material very well. That being said, there is more to consider when planning to use phosphorescent materials outdoors.

First, while the sun will charge your paint or powder to its full potential, it doesn’t instantly go from bright and sunny to pitch black outside. What happens instead is that the sun gradually sets and it doesn’t get really dark until pretty late in the evening. This is also assuming there aren’t any streetlights etc. to ruin your night vision.

Glow in the dark is true to its name. It requires DARK surroundings to be fully appreciated. It is true that lots of our colors are so bright shortly after charging that you can see them in even a well-lit room, but once the charging source goes away (the sun in this case) they quickly start transitioning from their brightest output to their afterglow stage. The afterglow is what is commonly referenced as lasting 8 to 12 hours for strontium aluminate pigments like the ones we sell. During this afterglow stage, you probably need to be in a very dark environment to see the glow at all. This is due to both the glow fading and the fact that your eyes are much more sensitive once they are adjusted to the dark.

So back to our outdoor glowing item. During the time between sunset and the time it actually gets really dark, the charging source has gone away and it’s not that dark yet. This means that you may not see any glow during this time unless you quickly recharge the item with an ultraviolet flashlight. If you were to not re charge it, then you would probably start to see the glow later in the evening once your eyes are adjusted to the darkness.

Second, volume matters. A wood table with a half inch of glow powder infused resin is going to glow brighter and longer than one or two thin layers of glow paint on a similar table. This isn’t to say that using glow paint outdoors won’t work, but try to stick to the brightest colors (aqua and green) and use several coats to build up the glow pigment. For example, using glow in the dark infused lacquer on top of a table instead of painting it with glow paint will give you the better result.

This post was definitely not written to discourage you from using phosphorescent materials outdoors. Instead, we want to set your expectations about the capabilities of glow in the dark technology so that you end up with the best result possible.

If you are wanting to get more glow during the time between sunset and when it gets really dark, we recommend picking up one of our 9 LED UV flashlights which can top of the charge of your glow art in seconds.  For a more substantial charge we recommend these lights that are available on Amazon: American DJ Black Light Fixture, OPPSK UV LED Light Bar, Sunlite CFL Black Light Bulb.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below or email us at info@artnglow.com.


2 comments

  • Brent

    Hi Randy, I am assuming you read the limitations of glow in the dark materials when used outdoors so if you still want to give it a try, I would recommend getting a decent volume of glow material for the best result. We do not offer these but glow in the dark rocks are probably your best bet here. That said, it will need to be very dark for you to be able to see them if they will only be charged by the sun. Also you’d want to stick with green, aqua, or blue most likely.

  • Randy Bramsen

    Hello I am looking at putting a material on my driveway to make it glow in the dark.
    Do have any recommendations?
    Thank you.

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