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Solar-powered lights seem like the perfect lighting for a garden, or for that matter, any outdoor space. Technically, outdoor solar lights ought to be low maintenance and eco-friendly, since all they need in order to function is sunlight, right? However, that isn’t always the case.
In this short, we will discuss why solar lights stop working and what you need to do to get them working again.
Why won’t my garden solar lights work?
Setting the lights up
Newly purchased solar lights need to be set up properly in order for them to work. A lot of people forget about a couple of crucial aspects while setting up their garden solar lights.
To begin with, all solar lights come with an on/off switch. Most often, you’ll find the switch at the bottom of the lights. Make sure the new lights are turned on before you install them.
Another common issue because which solar lights won’t work is because some models come with a red pull tab attached to the batteries. This tab has to be removed before the light can work. However, if you’ve set up the lights without reading the instructions thoroughly, chances are you’ve missed this step in the installation process.
If you live in a humid area, the extra moisture can also damage the electrical connections between the lights and the solar panel. The moisture can corrode these connections, as a result of which the lights may stop working. In this case, if the corrosion is extensive, you may need to replace the lights altogether.
Problems with sunlight
The solar panels that power these outdoor lights need direct sunlight for them to be able to charge the batteries. Without at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, these rechargeable batteries lose their charging, and your solar lights won’t work.
There are multiple reasons why this access to direct sunlight could be affected, preventing the batteries from getting fully charged. Let’s look at these reasons.
If you’ve installed your solar lights in a heavily shaded area, the batteries will obviously not get direct sunlight, resulting in the batteries not being able to recharge and therefore, the solar lights not working properly. The only way to remedy this situation is to change the position of the lights.
Sometimes, the culprit is landscaping. If you planted trees and shrubs after you installed the solar lights, and these grew up to cover the solar panels with their shadows, cutting off direct sunlight, the solar panels will not be able to charge enough to allow the lights to work optimally.
The solution to this is also fairly simple. Simply trim the branches and twigs that block direct access to sunlight, and you’re good to go.
Dust and debris
An important part of maintaining solar garden lights is cleaning the panels periodically. If you do not clean the solar panels regularly, a layer of dust is bound to form on them, preventing the batteries from charging effectively.
Dust isn’t the only thing that can prevent sunlight from getting to the solar panels. Dried leaves and other garden debris can also block out the sunlight.
The solution is simply to maintain a regular panel cleaning schedule. All you need is some soapy water and a hose to wash them.
Some affordable solar panels come with a plastic covering on top of the panels. Over a period of time, these get cloudy, once again preventing the panels from receiving enough sunlight.
The most effective way to clean this covering is to wipe it with a damp cloth and after it has dried completely, apply a coat of clear nail polish to it. Let it dry completely and then install the solar lights. The panels will be able to receive ample sunlight.
Problems with batteries
One of the possible reasons your solar lights are not working properly could simply be worn out or damaged batteries.
Most solar lights have rechargeable batteries, which the panels recharge when there is direct exposure to sunlight. However, even though there are long-lasting batteries like the Nickel Metal Hydride batteries (NiMH), none of them last forever.
This means it’s a good idea for you to keep a constant check on the health of your batteries (most of them are AA size), and when you observe that they aren’t charging fast enough or aren’t powering the lights for as long as they ought to, simply replace them with new batteries.
These batteries are usually encased in a box under the solar panel assembly. You will need a small screwdriver to open the casing and remove the batteries in order to check on them.
Keep in mind that if you fail to maintain your solar light batteries, they will wear out, erode and cause acid leaking. This will permanently damage your electrical circuits and you will need to replace them entirely.
Problems with sensors
All solar lights have sensors that detect natural light decreasing and turn on the lights. It is possible that your solar lights stopped working simply because these sensors stopped working.
There’s an easy way to check if the sensors work properly. By covering the sensor with your hand, you can effectively cut off sunlight from it. This should activate the sensor into thinking it is dark outside, and the sensor ought to turn on the light immediately and turn it off when you remove your hand.
If your sensor is faulty, see if the manufacturer has replacement sensors. Fortunately, most manufacturers do, and finding a replacement can be both affordable and convenient.
However, it is possible that the fault may not be the sensors at all. The sensors could be confused simply because you have placed the solar lights close to other artificial light sources.
Problem with water
Although outdoor solar lights are designed to withstand the rain and snow, with time, the sealant becomes weaker and water finds its way in. When this happens, the light will stop working
To rectify this, you will need to take the solar light apart, paying extra attention to make sure the sensor and the solar panel is not damaged. Dry out all the components completely and then put them back together.