So you just unboxed your new solar garden lights and are so excited to finally show them off. You install them in your backyard just as instructed only for them not to work as you had beautifully imagined.
This sort of scenario is pretty common among homeowners and gardeners. Even for those who’ve had solar lights for ages, they still experience issues here and there. It’s either the lights are flashing, not working or it’s the battery not charging.
Today, we are going to tackle each of these solar light problems and even go further to give you tips on how to fix solar lights without spending a dime on electricians.
Stay with me.
Solar Light Problems and How to Fix Solar Lights
Troubleshooting solar lights is not all so complicated and with a little knowledge of what you should look out for, any homeowner or gardener can hack. Here are some of the most common solar light problems and how to fix them.
Solar Light Charging Problem
Solar light battery problems are the most encountered so if your solar garden lights are not charging, the first question you need to ask yourself is if the battery has been installed correctly. Open the battery panel and check whether the installation is done correctly. Check the positive and negative terminals too.
A battery not charging could also be as a result of dirt, dust, and debris collecting on your panel thus obstructing sunlight from reaching your panel and ultimately your battery not getting enough charge. To fix this, use a soft cloth and wipe down the panel. You can use a mild cleaning detergent as well but be gentle when wiping.
Also, try positioning the solar panel to a spot where it can get maximum direct sunlight. Your panel needs to get at least 4-5 hours of direct sunlight every day to effectively charge the batteries. To get the most light, position your panel facing south. Since the sun rises from the east and sets in the west, positioning it south ensures that it gets maximum sunlight all through the day. Also, try angling your panel at 45 degrees especially during the seasons where the sun is lowest like in the winter season.
Lastly, beware of any shadows. Keep monitoring your panel to ensure that there are no shadows falling over it. During the summer, shadows are shorter and therefore not much effect as the sun is also brightest then but as the sun gets lower in the other seasons, the shadows grow longer and become an obstruction.
Solar Lights Blinking Problem
If your solar lights keep blinking or flashing then there is a high chance that it is not getting enough sunlight to produce enough charge. It could also be that the batteries are old hence can’t keep enough charge or there is dirt on the panels and is obstructing the sunlight from reaching the panels.
The first solution would be to check and clean the panels. If that doesn’t resolve the blinking, check the battery compartment and replace the batteries. If you don’t know how to, check the below video for a step by step guide on how to replace solar light batteries. Solar lights flashing problem is most often an indication that the solar cells are malfunctioned.
Solar Light Battery Problems
If your battery is not working, it could be that it is not holding a charge or not receiving any charge at all. To confirm whether it is completely dead or just faulty, use a battery indicator to test or test by replacing the solar light batteries with regular batteries to see if the light is working. This is just to be sure that it’s the batteries that are faulty and not any other component. Don’t forget to cover the lights to simulate darkness so that the photocell triggers the light to be on.
If batteries are completely dead, the only solution is to replace them. No two ways about that. Rechargeable batteries should be replaced at least every 1-2 years or when you notice that the runtime has reduced even after a very sunny day. Since they are used every day, they tend to lose their effectiveness with time.
Before replacing though, find out if it is properly installed and is receiving charge as it should be. It could also be that it’s not charging because the panel is not getting enough sunlight. Consider repositioning the panel to an angle where it will get maximum sunlight.
Always remember to take out the batteries when you have to store away your lights for a long period of time, maybe the entire winter season, and recharge them fully before using them again to maintain their effectiveness.
Brand New Solar Lights Not Working
The most common yet the most ignored problem with brand new outdoor solar lights is the ON/Off button not being turned on. Before anything else, check the switch at the back and power it on. Some do not have an obvious ON/OFF switch so if you see a small hole with a button inside, that is the power button. Push the button using a paperclip or any other small piece of metal that can fit in the hole to power it.
The other reason could that the tab on the battery is not pulled out. Some solar light batteries come with a tab on and the light can only function if the tab has been pulled out so ensure you do that before switching on your solar light.
If the batteries are not charging then they could have loosened during transit or installation. This means that the batteries are not in contact with the terminals and hence not charging during the day to provide you with the charge at night. Check the battery panel and position the batteries. Give them a day or two to charge fully before powering on the lights.
If you want to get the best from your new solar light, ensure that the first time you charge your batteries, they charge fully when switched off for at least 24 hours before you start using them.
Solar Lights Not Working After Rain
Being outdoor lights, solar lights are designed in such a way that they are not affected by water, they are water-resistant. However, in a case where your solar lights stopped working after heavy rainfall and you highly suspect the rain to be the cause, remove the cover and store the light in a hot water cupboard for a couple of days to dry out the lights.
If you live in a flood-prone area, ensure that your lights are above the flood zone. Even better, take them off and store them away until the flooding season is over. When lights get immersed in water, they stop working. They are water-resistant but not completely water-proof. If you must use the lights, try placing on a post or a tree. Once dry, deep charge the batteries for 48 hours before turning the lights on. If still not working, consult the seller or manufacturer and remember to have photographic evidence with you to validate your warranty.
Solar Light Sensor not Working
To check whether your sensor is working during the day, you will have to simulate darkness. You can do this by covering the sensor with a cloth or hand. Turn it on to see whether it is working or not. Check if there is anything obstructing the sensor like a sticker or if it is installed too low for it to sense anything. If this is the case, try to position it higher.
Another reason for a solar light sensor not working is the sensitivity settings being too high that a slight shade over it causes it to turn the lights on. It could be something as insignificant as a heavy dark cloud passing over it. The solution to this is to check and readjust the sensitivity settings. If your solar lighting comes with a light duration setting, check and adjust as well.
Lastly, check if you accidentally turned on the override switch and switch it off. When the override switch is turned on, it overrides the function of the sensor and turns the light on regardless of whether its night time or not.
Here are the most frequently asked questions that we come across from our readers.
Q1: What to do with Old Solar Lights?
When you strip down the solar light, you will get rechargeable batteries, LED light bulb, solar collector cells, controlled board, and photo-resistor. All of these components can be reused in various ways within the home. You can deliver them to a recycling center near you or repurpose to make a solar-powered torch. You can use the batteries to power your radio, clock, smoke alarms, remote controls, and any device that can be powered by a rechargeable battery.
Q2: What to do with Broken Solar Lights?
Send them over to a recycling center close to you or find a way to dispose of them safely. If you are in the U.S, you can find a recycling center here.
Q3: Why do my Solar Lights come on During the Day?
Your panels are not being exposed to very bright sunlight for them to turn themselves off during the day either due to its position, a faulty sensor, or that there is dirt on the panel that is obstructing the light. Try cleaning the panel and fixing the light sensor.
Q4: How to fix Broken Wire on Solar Lights?
Take the light fitting apart by unscrewing the fitted screws around the edges and twisting apart the covering. Start by taking away the large removable components first. Take note of how they are assembled so that you can return everything correctly. Remove whatever is breaking the circuit; this could be rust or dirt. For the broken wires, use a soldering iron to connect them or twist the ends together. Reassemble everything and switch on the light.
Q5: How do I Replace the Batteries in my Solar Light?
Open the solar light battery cover, locate the batteries then take them out and replace them with the new batteries. If there is no battery cover, chances are there are screws on the top and bottom of the unit, unscrew them and you will find the batteries. Take them out and replace them with new ones.
Q6: Can I replace the Batteries in my Solar Lights with Regular Batteries?
Unfortunately no, you have to use either NiMH or NiCd rechargeable AA or AAA batteries. If you must use regular batteries, ensure it’s just for a day or two till you can replace your rechargeable batteries. Using alkaline batteries for longer can severely damage your battery terminals.
Q7: How can I charge Solar Lights without the Sun?
You can place your solar lights as close to the household light bulbs as possible to quickly charge them.
Q8: Why are my Solar Lights Dim?
Solar lights will be dim if the panel is not receiving enough sunlight to generate sufficient energy. Check if there is shade or shadow preventing the light from reaching the panel.
It can be more than frustrating when your garden solar lights fail to work and you have no clue what might be the cause. We hope this article has been more than helpful and you now know how to fix solar lights with the simple and easy to follow tips mentioned above.
If, however, you try everything else and nothing is working, then it’s best to contact your manufacturer or seller. They will advise on the way forward. Do not be tempted to dismantle your entire unit or call your electrician, you might make things worse and in the process invalidate your warranty.