Solar garden lights are all the rage nowadays. It is because aside from providing illumination during the night, they also have the added benefit of being an environmentally friendly way of beautifying your home.
Instead of using your household electrical circuit to power the lights, solar garden lights use miniature solar panels to charge their batteries so they can run all night long. However, to enjoy all their benefits, it is also important to learn how to clean solar panels on garden lights properly.
Note that although solar outdoor lights are weatherproof and quite resilient, they do need a bit of care and maintenance now and then so they can work at full potential. One of the most important areas that you need to focus on is the solar panel. Clean solar panels are more efficient at converting light energy into electricity, so you need to keep them clean.
What Would Happen If You Did Not Clean Your Solar Panels?
Before you learn how to clean your solar panels, you should know why you need to clean the solar panels of your garden lights. Knowing the reasons why will somehow make you feel more responsible, thereby making you want to do it more often without being told to do so. Here are some:
You will void the warranty
If you let your solar panels get so dirty that the solar panels cannot get enough light to charge the batteries then note that this is not a factory defect. This is negligence on the part of the owner. This means that you will not be able to claim the warranty for the product.
On the other hand, keeping the solar panels clean will keep the whole lighting system working in top condition for many years. This might even mean that you will not need to claim the warranty at all. This is a good thing since the lighting system is still working as new.
The solar panels will not gather enough sunlight
When you let the solar panels get so dirty that you can draw a line on the dust using your finger then its capabilities are more or less halved already. The sunlight needs to directly hit the solar panels so they can recharge the lights’ batteries. It will not take that much dust to essentially prevent sunlight from reaching the solar panels.
When not enough sunlight reaches the solar panels, they will not be able to provide ample charge for the batteries. What this means for you is that your lights will turn off after just an hour or so of operation during the night. It is best to give your solar garden lights a light dusting every month or so.
Clean solar panels last longer
If you allow dirt and dust to accumulate on top of the solar panels, they will cause quite a lot of damage. Not only will they scuff up the surface of the panels, thus diminishing their efficiency, they will also cause the metal components to rust.
Plus, cleaning your solar lights every once in a while will allow you to check if they have other problems. Catching the issues early will make them easier to fix, as compared to letting the damage get worse over time.
Is Rainwater Not Enough to Clean the Solar Panels?
If it often rains in your area then you might think that this would be enough to keep your solar panels clean. However, keep in mind that such is not truly the case. For instance, cars might seem sparkling clean after a strong rain shower, but wait until all that water dries up, and you will see that a lot of dirt is left behind by the rainwater.
Rainwater is not clean. There are lots of dirt particles and other materials suspended in the raindrops. Rainwater leaves behind a film of dirt and grime and this is sometimes much harder to clean off compared to regular dirt and dust. This is why you need to give your solar panels a good wiping with a clean rag after the rain.
How to Clean the Solar Panels of your Garden Lights?
Before you start
You should consult with the owner’s manual of your garden lights if you still have them, or search for them online. Check the manual if there are any special instructions on how to clean the garden lights. If there are none, then you can proceed with the rest of the instructions.
What you will need
If your garden lights do not come with special cleaning instructions, you can just clean them using plain soapy water. If the outer layer of the solar panels is made of tempered glass, you can use window cleaner too.
How to clean the solar panels
- Fill a bucket with warm water and mix just enough mild detergent to work up a bit of a lather. Do not use any other cleaning agents, like bleach as this will damage the surface.
- Use a garden hose to spray water all over the solar lights. This will remove much of the loose dust and dirt on the panels. Moreover, it will loosen caked-on dirt. This will save you from a lot of scrubbing later.
- Grab a kitchen sponge. Avoid the kind with a scouring pad, though, as that will scuff up the surface of the solar panels and decrease their efficiency. Dip the sponge in the bucket of soapy water and then proceed to scrub the solar panels on the garden lights.
- Once you are done scrubbing, turn on the hose again and proceed to rinse the solar panels. You do not have to worry about individually drying the solar panels. They are not large enough that you have to worry about leaving streak marks on their surfaces.
Things to Remember
- Do not dunk the garden lights inside the bucket of water. They are more likely just water-resistant but not completely waterproof.
- Do not scrub too hard. Too much scrubbing might scuff up the surface of the solar panels. When the surface of the solar panels becomes too dull, you will need to polish it using some rubbing compound and a clean rag.
- Do clean the solar panels when it is cool outside. Not only will doing so make the chore easier for you but it is also better to clean the solar panels when they are not hot. Suddenly dousing the hot panels with cold water might cause thermal shock that will cause the panels to crack.
- Do not use a power washer. Power washers might seem like a fun way to get your solar lights clean but this is not recommended. The water coming out of a power washer’s nozzle comes out with such force that it can make the solar panels crack.
Also, the pressurized water will be able to find its way inside your garden lights, causing them to short out.
How Often Do You Need to Clean the Solar Panels of Your Garden Lights?
It is vital to know how often you need to clean the solar panels of your garden lights. The frequency of cleaning will depend on the weather conditions where you live. If you live in a rather dry but not arid area, the solar panels can do with a cleaning every six months or so. The same goes for if you live in a place with a tropical climate.
On the other hand, if you live in a place that is quite dry and dusty most of the time, you should hose down the solar panels every chance you get so that the dust will not accumulate and wash them every 3 to 4 months.
For instance, if you live in the Southwestern states, like Arizona or Texas, you need to wash them more frequently. This also applies if you live near the freeway. Aside from removing dust and dirt, you also need to watch out for falling leaves and other debris from the plants and trees in your yard.
If it is nearing autumn, check your solar lights if they have been buried in dry, fallen leaves. If they are, clear out the leaves using a leaf blower or a rake. You will also know when it is time to give your solar garden lights a good cleaning when you notice the lights flickering or turning off earlier than expected during the night.
This is a sign that the solar panels are not able to fully charge the batteries of the lights during the day and often, the culprit is a dirty solar panel.
Although solar lights are quite low maintenance, they will still benefit from the occasional cleaning and care. If you want your solar garden lights to last for many years, you need to clean its most important component, which is the solar panel. Thankfully, cleaning them is not that hard at all and does not require special tools whatsoever.
It is a good thing that you do not need to provide extensive cleaning often. Just once every year is enough. Of course, this depends on the area where you live and the usual weather conditions.
Remember, if you want your solar lights to provide you with beautiful illumination every night for many years, you need to clean them, especially their solar panels thoroughly occasionally. This is why you have to gather as much information as possible about how to clean solar panels on garden lights so you can implement them.