Solar lights work by harvesting solar light and charging its battery in daylight. Solar lights turn ON at night automatically and they are employed in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Solar lights not working is a common trouble many solar energy lovers face after rain, at night, or even when they purchase a brand new one. A solar light could malfunction due to battery problems, wire disconnections, not staying on as long as they should at night, there might be some issues that need fixing.corrosions, and solar panel degradation. Even different solar light types (string solar lights, yard solar lights ) and brands (sunforce, bell and howell, costco, fefiant, baxia, gama sonic, ring, beyond bright, aldi) can have the same problem at different periods of their life.
In this article, I’ll show you how to fix solar lights which are not working. Even if your solar lamp is new or old, these solutions will help you to troubleshoot and get your solar lights working again.
Causes of Solar Light Malfunction
Solar lights can malfunction due to the following causes.
- Water has been into the solar light circuit
- Battery is dead
- Solar light has water or moisture inside it due to rain or snow melting
- Wires are corroded or disconnected
- Solar light’s internal LEDs are fried
- Electronic components (capacitors, transistors, resistors) of the solar circuit degraded or malfunction
- Dust can introduce resistance to metal connections and break the line’s current path
- Even though the solar light is new, its internal parts are faulty
- Solar lights have hidden switches
Troubleshooting Solar Lights
- First, check to make sure that the solar panel is receiving direct sunlight. If the solar panel is receiving direct sunlight, then the issue lies within the light itself.
- If your solar light is new, check for any hidden switches.
- Make sure to check the batteries, as well as the on and off switch. If the batteries appear to be working, then the problem could be in another location.
1. Checking the Battery
You’ll want to check the battery to determine if it’s still functioning properly, as this could be a key factor in why your outdoor/indoor solar lighting is not working.
To do this, you’ll want to remove the battery from the light fixture and test it with a multimeter to check the voltage output. If the voltage is too low (under 2.5 V), then the battery will need to be replaced. If the voltage is normal (5 V or above), then the battery may not be the source of the issue.
In addition, it’s important to make sure that the battery is securely fastened to the light fixture. If the battery is not tight enough, then the contacts may not be making a good connection and the light may not turn on.
Check the battery connections and make sure they are securely fastened before reassembling the light.
2. Cleaning the Solar Panel
Is your outdoor or indoor solar lighting still not functioning properly after checking the battery? Cleaning the solar panel may be the next step!
The solar panel collects energy from the sun to power the solar light. Therefore, the solar panel needs to be free of dirt, dust, and debris in order to collect the most amount of energy.
To clean the solar panel, begin by wiping the surface with a damp cloth and then use a soft-bristled brush to scrub away any debris lodged in the panel’s surface. Once the panel is cleaned, it should be able to collect enough energy to power your solar light.
3. Checking the Switch
Checking the switch is the next step to getting your solar lighting up and running at night. Take a look at the switch to make sure it’s in the correct position. Please note that some garden solar lights have a switch inside the solar lamp cap.
If it’s in the off position, flip it to the on position. If it’s already set to on, make sure the switch is secure, as it may have come loose in the wind or rain.
If the switch is secure and in the on position, then the issue may lie somewhere else. Consider cleaning the solar panel or checking the wiring for signs of damage.
4. Resetting the Solar Light
If the switch doesn’t seem to be the problem, then it might be time to reset the solar light.
To do this, you should first unplug the solar lights from the power source (AA or AAA battery). Then, leave them unplugged for a few minutes. This will allow any stored electricity or power to drain away. If your solar light battery is soldered to the circuit, then you need to cut one wire and wait for a few minutes. Then connect it back properly and apply wire tape.
After that, plug the solar lights back into the power source and switch them on. If the lights still don’t work, then it might be time to look into other solutions.
6. Replacing Fuses or Bulbs
It could be time to replace the fuses or bulbs – don’t wait any longer!
If the solar light still isn’t working after you reset it, the problem could be a broken fuse or a burnt-out bulb. You can find replacement parts in the instruction manual that came with your solar light. If you don’t have the manual, you can usually find the parts online (Amazon or eBay) or at a local hardware store.
Replacing the fuses or bulbs should be relatively easy, but if you’re feeling unsure, it’s best to consult a professional electrician or the manufacturer of the solar light. With the right parts and a bit of know-how, you can have your solar light working again in no time.
7. Checking for Corrosion
Investigating for corrosion may be necessary if the solar fixture is malfunctioning. The presence of corrosion (due to rain or snow melting moisture can be gone inside the solar light if it’s not waterproof) on the solar lights can have a significant impact on the way in which they function. To check for corrosion, you should:
- Visually inspect the metal parts of the solar light for any signs of rust or discoloring.
- Test the electrical continuity of the solar light with a multimeter.
- Take apart the solar panel to check for corrosion on the wiring or circuit board.
- Clean the battery terminals with a brush and baking soda and vinegar solution.
If any corrosion is found, it should be removed with an appropriate cleaner, such as baking soda and water or a wire brush. Once the corrosion is removed, the solar light should be tested to make sure it is working properly before being reassembled.
Further, if the corrosion makes circuit paths disconnect, you can solder them again using soldering wires or apply nail polish as well (nail polish works as a conductor as well).
8. Replacing the Solar Cell
Now that you’ve checked for corrosion, it’s time to replace the solar cell if needed. Replacing the solar cell is a relatively simple process and can be done with a few basic tools.
First, you’ll need to identify the type of solar cell your light uses. Depending on the type, you may need to use a screwdriver or other tool to remove the panel. Once the panel is off, the solar cell will be exposed, and you can carefully disconnect it from the circuit.
Then, you’ll need to find a replacement solar cell that matches the one you’ve removed. Make sure it has the same voltage and amperage.
When you’ve found it, you can attach it to the circuit and replace the panel. After that, your light should be working again!
9. Repairing Wiring Issues
Examining the wiring is essential to resolving any issues with the lighting system. First, it’s important to check all of the connections in the system to make sure they’re secure.
Next, check to see if there’s any corrosion or damage to the wires, as this can cause malfunctions. Additionally, you should make sure the system’s receiving enough power from the solar cell, and that the solar cell’s properly connected.
Finally, verify that the system’s set up correctly and isn’t blocking the sun from reaching the solar cell.
If any of these issues are identified, it’s important to repair or replace the parts as necessary. This may involve replacing the wiring, replacing the solar cell, or adjusting the setup of the system.
Remember to take safety precautions when dealing with electricity and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when replacing parts.
10. Contact customer support
If the above fixes are failed, then the problem could be associated with a manufacturing issue. If you have a warranty, you can ask for help from the manufacturer.
Or else, you may need to buy a new one. Especially, if your solar light is a cheap one, then there won’t be any warranty or guarantee.
Why are only half my solar lights working?
The most common cause of only half of your solar lights working is that the batteries are not getting enough sunlight to charge properly. Make sure your lights are in a location that gets direct sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. If the batteries are still not charging properly, you may need to replace them.
You’ve gone through all the necessary steps to troubleshoot your solar lights.
With a few simple steps, you can be sure that your solar lights will be up and running again in no time. Good luck, and happy troubleshooting!
Eng. Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar.
After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as a Solar Electrical Engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies.
He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research.
He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website.
Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.