Are you frazzled that the outdoor solar lights you bought stopped working? Before you call your seller, it would be best to learn how to fix outdoor solar lights that stop working on your own. There are many reasons why your solar lights may seem busted, and I can understand your concern.
However, there are easy ways to troubleshoot and fix solar lights without requiring professional help. In this tutorial, I will share some tips on managing solar-powered lamps that are no longer working.
Things You Will Need To For This Tutorial
Fixing basic or advanced solar lights is a matter of eliminating the most likely culprit. Once identified, you can repair solar lights like the pros. You should prepare the following tools to help you assess, diagnose, and troubleshoot the problems in your garden lighting system.
- Multimeter or LED continuity tester for checking electrical integrity
- Soldering iron and electrical tape for making and securing wiring connections
- Cleaning solution and towels for removing remote solar panel contaminants
- Replacement solar dry cells and alkaline power packs as temporary power source
Steps On How To Fix Outdoor Solar Lights That Stop Working
Step 1. Check if your outdoor solar lighting device is off.
Sometimes the only reason why an outdoor solar light stopped working is that its switch is not in the ON position.
A manufacturer can place the switch on the device’s side or underneath the housing assembly. If it is in the ON position, the lamp automatically lights up when there is no more sunlight.
If it is in the OFF position, night time operation is non-existent.
Step 2. Check the battery if it still has a plastic pull tab.
If your lights are brand new, there is a good chance you forgot to remove the plastic pull tab in the battery compartment.
Most manufacturers already include solar batteries in their solar powered lights, positioned in the battery compartment. They place a plastic tab between the dry cell and the terminals to avoid draining the dry cell of its charge.
Check the dry cell compartment if it still has a pull tab. If so, pull the tab out and switch ON your light fitting.
Step 3. Assess the solar light.
Solar lights work by drawing energy stored in the dry cells. The solar panels push electricity generated from solar power to the batteries. As the sun rises, the solar panel starts collecting solar energy.
When the sun goes down or with reduced lighting, a mechanism in the solar panel automatically activates the light. The lighting fixtures stay on all night long, illuminating your garden and other outdoor spaces.
The simplest way to assess your garden lighting fixture is by covering the solar panel to activate the lights. You can use a piece of dark-colored towel to drape over the solar panel. Alternatively, you can enclose the solar panels in a box, ensuring no light shines through the panel.
Blocking the solar panel should activate the mechanism that automatically turns on your outdoor solar light and fix your lighting issues.
Step 4. Check the electronics.
Rain and spray from your front lawn sprinkler system promote water ingress, causing corrosion in its electrical connections and damaging its lux sensor. You might have to disassemble the fixture to check the sensor and wirings.
If you have a multitester, you can also check for electrical continuity in the circuit, especially the sensor, solar panel cable, and waterproof connectors. Set the multimeter to Ohms and dial in an Ohm value slightly higher than your solar light’s rating.
Touch the black electrode on one wire and the red probe on another wire. If the multimeter shows a value other than zero, you have a discontinuity in your circuit. You cannot bring DC power to the light.
HelpfulDIY has a fascinating video about using a multimeter to check for electrical continuity.
If you have string lights, you might want to check the individual wires. Animals can chew on the cord and expose the wiring.
You will want to reconnect any broken wires or patch exposed copper using electrical tape.
Step 5. Clean the solar panel.
Another reason for solar lights not working is a dirty solar panel. Dirt and dust can reduce the solar panel’s ability to absorb solar energy, affecting the system’s charging capability.
It produces less electrical energy that goes to the dry cell, compromising the system’s charging ability. Since the dry cell does not have sufficient power, it would not be enough to run your sunlight powered light at night.
Clean the solar panel using a damp cloth. You can use soapy water, too. Allow it to dry before applying clear nail polish.
Step 6. Reposition the solar panel.
There is no need for a solar light repair kit if you can reposition your solar panels for maximum light absorption. You can save several dollars from this.
As mentioned, your solar lamp turns on because of the power it draws from the batteries. The energy stored in the battery comes from the photovoltaic panels.
Positioning your solar panels in direct sunlight, free of shadows and away from the shade, can help ensure you have fully charged dry cells to run your outdoor garden lights. Repositioning the panels is a simple fix that people often overlook.
Step 7. Test your solar batteries.
Maybe the reason why your solar garden lights stop working is because of dead batteries. You can check your solar battery’s charge with a multimeter.
Set your multimeter or voltmeter to DCV, dialing in a higher voltage rating than your dry cell’s specific voltage. For example, if your NiCd or NiMH rechargeable dry cell has 1.25 volts, you can set the multimeter to 5, 10, or 20 volts.
Touch the red probe on the battery’s positive terminal and the black electrode on the dry cell’s negative side. If the voltage reading is less than 1.1 volts, you may already have a dead dry cell.
Here is an excellent video from HowToMakeAnything about testing your batteries using a multimeter.
Pro Tip: If you do not have a multimeter, you can replace your batteries with ordinary alkaline dry cells. Check if it powers on your solar lamps. If they do, you must replace your rechargeable batteries immediately.
Step 8. Rest your outdoor solar lights for 72 hours.
Power off your sun powered lights for at least 72 hours to perform a deep charge. It should be sufficient to charge your solar batteries completely, and an effortless solution when solar lights stop working.
You might have to improvise with other outdoor lighting fixtures while deep charging your system.
Step 9. Get in touch with your seller.
If you got this far and your solar lights still do not work, it would be best to contact your seller. There is a good chance the retailer sold you a defective unit or a system with less-than-stellar performance.
Depending on the problem, the seller might send you a replacement solar panel for garden lights, a new set of solar lighting fixtures, fresh batteries, or the whole package. It can save you money from purchasing a new set, including expensive solar panels.
I hope this tutorial on how to fix outdoor solar lights that stop working made you feel more confident about addressing such issues. The secret here is to explore and eliminate plausible explanations for the problem until you get to the root cause.
If you found this guide helpful, would you share it with others you know? They might also have the same issues as you. I will also appreciate any comment or feedback you have about this tutorial.
Hi, I am Eddie, Cleanenergysummit’s content editor. It’s so much joy to work alongside Justin, as the idea of providing knowledge about using clean energy excites us.
I’ve been working to address any concerns or questions you may have as you transition to using solar electricity to power your home. Tune in to hear our advice and suggestions on anything clean energy. Welcome!