Are your solar lights not lighting up even though your batteries are fully charged? One of the possible reasons why your solar lighting system is not working is a broken wire. You can manage this issue if you know how to fix broken wire on solar lights.
Unfortunately, fixing broken wires is not for the neophyte because there are at least three crucial skills one must have when repairing a solar light’s wiring. Do not worry, though. I will help you learn these skills so you can fix your broken wire in no time.
Things You Need For This Tutorial
Repairing solar lights is not difficult if you have the right knowledge and skills, including the right tools for the job. I found a three-step process for fixing solar lights, which should be easy enough even for first-timers.
The following tools and materials are essential for this project.
- Multimeter – One of the most important tools is a multimeter, allowing you to determine wire continuity and other electrical wiring issues
- Wire Stripper – This tool removes the outer rubber covering or insulation of solar lights
- Soldering Gun – Also known as soldering iron, this device heats the solder to form a secure bond between two wires or between a wire and the PCB
- Solder – You should always use an environmentally-free lead-free solder as it is also more durable
- Rosin – This paste cleans and prevents oxidation on fixed or soldered areas, while keeping the soldering gun clean
- Silicone Paste – Additional protection for the wires against oxidation and corrosion
- Safety Glasses – Soldering produces noxious fumes that can irritate the mucous membranes of the eyes
- Heat Shrink Tubing – Serves as an insulating and protective material for the soldered area
- Heat Gun – Compresses the shrink tube and secures it in place
- Mini Alligator Clamps – For stabilizing the wires before soldering and fixing
Detail Guide on How to Fix Broken Wire on Solar Lights
Steps To Using A Multimeter Properly
Step 1. Connect the electrodes to the multimeter.
The first step to repair solar lights is learning how to use the multimeter properly. If you already know how to use this device, you can proceed to our section on how to fix broken solar lights.
Your multimeter comes with red and black electrodes or probes. Plug the black probe into the multimeter port marked, “COM.” Next, insert the red probe into the multimeter’s “Ohm” port, not the “Voltage” port.
Step 2. Check the multimeter.
Before you start testing any circuit, you will want to check your multimeter for optimum functioning.
Set the multimeter to the correct Ohm setting by turning the knob. Hold the probes and touch their tips together. Check the display if it shows 0 (zero) or any number close to 0. For example, you might get a reading of 0.1 or 0.3.
Step 3. Set the multimeter.
Check your solar light’s resistance value and turn the multimeter’s knob to a higher Ohm (the unit of measure for electrical resistance) value. For example, if your solar lighting system has a resistance value of 500 Ohms, you can set the multimeter to 550 or 600 Ohms.
Pro Tip: If you do not know your solar light’s resistance value, you can start with the highest Ohm setting in your multimeter and work your way down from there.
Step 4. Test your solar light’s circuit.
Hold the probes and touch each end to the solar light circuit’s endpoints or wires. Check the digital display if it reads anywhere near zero. If you do, your solar light wiring has continuity, allowing electrons to flow throughout the circuit.
However, if you see “OL” or “1” on the screen, you may have broken wires in your electrical circuit – a clear break in electrical continuity.
Steps To Properly Stripping A Wire
Step 1. Check your solar light’s wire gauge.
Take a section of your solar light’s wire and check the wire gauge specification printed on the sheath. If you cannot see this, you can perform a Google search for the correct wire gauge of your light system.
You can also measure the wire diameter and use a wire gauge reference table. It is a tedious process, but it can give you the information you need.
Step 2. Position the wire stripper over the wire.
Your wire stripper comes with circular slots for accommodating a wire. In each opening is a wire gauge marking.
Position your wire in the slot corresponding to its wire gauge. Ensure to position the stripper’s cutting edge about half an inch from the solar light wire’s end.
Step 3. Strip the wire.
Carefully clamp the stripper on the wire like you would with a scissor. Twist the tool back and forth several times until you can see the rubber insulation cut off. Pull the stripper towards the wire’s end to remove the insulation, exposing the copper wire.
Pro Tip: Be careful when stripping because you might inadvertently cut some wire strands. Doing so can increase the wire’s resistance, causing overheating. If you break a strand, you must start over.
Steps To Soldering A Wire Correctly
Step 1. Prepare the wires for soldering.
Strip the tips of the two wires you want to connect using the procedure we explained in the preceding section.
Get a heat shrink tube and insert it on one of the wires. The heat shrink tube will serve as an insulating material for your soldered wire.
Pro Tip: You can use a larger-gauge wire’s insulation as a shrink tube if you cannot find any.
Step 2. Connect the ends of both wires.
Try separating the individual strands of each wire. Intermesh both wire’s spread strands before twisting them to ensure a secure connection.
Alternatively, you can twist the wire ends before intertwining them. Ensure no strand or wire sticks out to prevent puncturing the shrink tube. If this occurs, an electrical short can occur.
Step 3. Solder the connection.
Stabilize both wires by clamping alligator clips on them or have someone hold the wires as steadily as possible.
Apply sufficient rosin on the wire joint and heat your soldering gun. As your soldering iron heats up, wipe the end with a damp sponge to remove oxidation.
Position the soldering gun under the wire, and feed solder between the wire and the gun’s end. Let the solder coat the copper strands’ top, allowing it to cool.
Wipe the end of the soldering gun on a damp sponge to remove excess solder.
Pro Tip: Cover the alligator clamps’ teeth with shrink tubes to safeguard the wire’s integrity. Always wear safety goggles, too.
Step 4. Secure the connection.
Apply silicone glue over the soldered area and slide the heat shrink tubing to cover the connection. The silicone will serve as an additional insulating layer for your wires.
Heat the shrink tube using a lighter or a heat gun. Start from the tubing’s center and move towards the ends. It is okay if you see some of the silicone oozing out of the tubing. You can also apply electrical tape for added security.
Steps To Fixing A Broken Wire On Solar Lights
Step 1. Disassemble your solar light housing.
Read your owner’s manual to learn how to disassemble your solar lighting. Remove any screws that secure the fixture’s electrical components. Opening your unit is necessary to check the wires and ensure you do not have problems other than broken wires. Remove the batteries, too.
Step 2. Determine where the broken wire is.
Use your multimeter to determine where you have a faulty wire, electrical discontinuity, or other issues. You can check our section on how to use a multimeter for this step.
If you are repairing copper wire string lights, you may want to note which solar string lights are not functioning. You will have to cut the wire before the damaged solar light wires and remove the defective section.
Step 3. Fix the broken wire.
Remove the rubber covering of the solar string lights you want to connect and solder, using the procedure we described in the preceding sections. Observe the correct soldering procedure, including the silicone paste and heat shrink tube application.
Replace the battery and reassemble your solar lighting system. Check if your solar LED light is working. If not, you may have to check with your solar light manufacturer for other troubleshooting options.
Learning how to fix broken wire on solar lights may seem like a complicated process. You can always simplify the fixing process by teaching yourself how to use a multimeter and other tools, strip wires, and solder the wires properly. Knowing these things can help you fix many other things in your home.
Was this tutorial helpful? If so, would you care to share it with your acquaintances, family, and friends? You can also shoot me questions or send me your thoughts in the comments section below.