Solar lights work by absorbing sunlight through photovoltaic cells during the day, converting it into electricity, and storing it in a rechargeable battery.
At night, the stored energy powers the LED light. The average lifespan of solar lights is typically around 2-4 years, but this can vary depending on several factors such as the quality of the components, the environment, and how well they are maintained.
However, like all electronic devices, they have a finite lifespan.
This article aims to provide unique, technical, and up-to-date information on how to extend the lifespan of solar lights.
1. Choose the Right Solar Lights
There are different types of solar lights, each designed for specific applications and environments. Choosing the right type can significantly affect their lifespan.
For instance, using solar lights designed for dry climates in a rainy area can lead to water damage, reducing their lifespan.
Here I have added a table with a different type of solar lights and their recommended area of installation
|Type of Solar Light||Recommended Area of Installation|
|Path Lights||These are perfect for lighting up pathways, driveways, and sidewalks.|
|Spotlights||These are typically used to highlight specific features in your garden like statues or trees.|
|String Lights||These are great for decorating patios, decks, and entertainment areas.|
|Decorative Lights||These can be used in various areas depending on their design. They’re often used to add a decorative touch to gardens, patios, or decks.|
|Security Lights||These are best installed in areas that require extra security like entrances, garages, and dark corners.|
|Task Lights||These are used to light up areas where specific tasks are performed, like outdoor cooking areas or workspaces.|
Here are some tips on what to look for when buying solar lights:
- Quality of Components: High-quality solar lights have efficient photovoltaic cells, robust batteries, and durable LED lights. They may cost more upfront, but they last longer and perform better.
- Weather Resistance: Ensure the solar lights are suitable for your local climate. They should be waterproof if you live in a rainy area and heat-resistant if you live in a hot climate.
- Brightness and Coverage: Consider the brightness of the light and the area it covers. A light that is too bright for its intended area can consume more energy, reducing its lifespan.
2. Waterproof the Edges of the Solar Lights
Even though most outdoor solar lights are designed to be water-resistant, they are not entirely waterproof, especially the cheaper ones.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to add waterproof materials such as silicone glue around the edges of the solar panels and other openings of the solar light.
This can prevent water from seeping into the light, which can damage the electronic components and shorten the light’s lifespan.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to waterproof your solar lights:
- Clean the solar light thoroughly, ensuring there is no dust or debris on the surface.
- Apply a thin layer of silicone glue around the edges of the solar panel and any other openings.
- Allow the glue to dry completely before reinstalling the light.
Here’s a table with some common household items that can be used to seal the small openings of a solar light, along with their advantages and disadvantages:
|UV Harden Nail Gel||Forms a strong, waterproof seal. Hardens quickly under UV light.||Requires a UV light to harden. Can be more expensive than other options.|
|Nail Polish||Easy to apply. Dries quickly. Available in clear varieties.||Not as durable or waterproof as other options. May need to be reapplied frequently.|
|Hot Glue Gun Sticks||Forms a strong, waterproof seal. Easy to apply with a hot glue gun.||Requires a hot glue gun. Can be messy to apply. Not as flexible once hardened.|
|Vaseline||Easy to apply. Can create a waterproof seal.||Not as durable as other options. Can attract dust and dirt. Needs to be reapplied frequently.|
Please note that while these items can be used to seal small openings, they may not be as effective or durable as professional-grade sealants.
You can watch below video to further learn how to waterproof your solar lights
3. Proper Installation of Solar Lights Matters
Improper installation can shorten the lifespan of solar lights. For instance, installing them in a shaded area can limit their exposure to sunlight, reducing their efficiency and lifespan.
Here’s a table that outlines good and not-so-good places for installing solar lights around homes and office buildings:
|Location||Good Places for Solar Lights||Not Good Places for Solar Lights|
|Home||Driveways, Walkways, Gardens, Patios, Decks, Entrances||Shaded areas (e.g., under trees or structures), Indoors, Areas that don’t receive much sunlight, Areas prone to water pooling|
|Office Building||Parking Lots, Walkways, Entrances, Outdoor Break Areas||Shaded areas (e.g., under trees or structures), Indoors, Areas that don’t receive much sunlight, Areas prone to water pooling|
How to properly install solar lights?
- Choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight throughout the day.
- Install the solar light according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure it is secure and stable.
- Adjust the angle of the solar panel, if possible, to maximize sunlight exposure.
4. Regular Maintenance of Solar Lights
Regular maintenance can significantly extend the lifespan of solar lights. This includes cleaning the solar panels, checking the battery, and replacing the LED light when necessary.
Cleaning the Solar Panels belonging to solar light
Dirt and debris on the solar panels can block sunlight, reducing the efficiency of the solar lights. Clean the panels regularly using a soft cloth and soapy water. Avoid using abrasive materials as they can scratch the panels.
Below video tutorial clearly shows how you can clean a solar light.
Maintaining the Battery and LED Light
Check the battery regularly to ensure it is functioning properly. Replace it if it no longer holds a charge. Similarly, replace the LED light if it starts to dim when it’s supposed to be bright.
5. Proper Usage of Solar Lights
Overusing solar lights can shorten their lifespan. For instance, leaving them on all night, every night, can drain the battery and reduce its overall lifespan.
Here are some tips on how to use solar lights efficiently:
- Use a Timer: If your solar lights have a timer, use it to control when the lights turn on and off. This can help conserve energy and extend the lifespan of the lights.
- Adjust the Brightness: Some solar lights allow you to adjust the brightness. Using a lower brightness setting can help conserve energy and extend the lifespan of the lights.
- Turn Off When Not Needed: If you don’t need the lights, turn them off. This can help conserve energy and extend the lifespan of the lights.
6. Storing Solar Lights when not in use
Improper storage can affect the lifespan of solar lights.
For instance, leaving them outside during the off-season, especially in harsh weather conditions, can damage the lights and shorten their lifespan.
Here’s a guide on how to properly store solar lights during off-seasons like winter:
- Clean the solar lights thoroughly.
- Remove the batteries if possible.
- Store the lights in a cool, dry place.
- Check the lights periodically to ensure they are in good condition.
7. Troubleshooting Common Solar Light Problems
Like all electronic devices, solar lights can experience problems. However, most of these problems can be easily fixed, and doing so can extend the lifespan of the lights.
I have put some common solar light problems and how to fix them:
- Lights Not Turning On: This could be due to a dead battery or a problem with the sensor. Try replacing the battery or cleaning the sensor.
- Lights Not as Bright as Before: This could be due to dirty solar panels or a dying battery. Clean the solar panels and replace the battery if necessary.
- Lights Flickering: This could be due to a loose connection. Check the wiring and make sure all connections are secure.
If you’re unable to fix the problem, it may be time to seek professional help or replace the lights.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should solar lights last?
Solar lights typically have an average lifespan of 2-4 years. This can vary based on factors such as component quality, environment, and maintenance.
Why does my solar light not last long?
The longevity of solar lights can be affected by several factors. These include the quality of the components, exposure to harsh weather conditions, improper installation, and lack of regular maintenance.
How do you preserve solar lights?
To preserve solar lights, ensure proper installation in a location with ample sunlight, perform regular maintenance like cleaning the solar panels and checking the battery, use them efficiently with a timer or brightness adjustments, and store them properly during off-seasons.
What are the solar lights that last 12 hours?
Maxsa 40331 Ultra-Bright 12 Hour Solar-Powered Floodlight will last 12 hours with full charge.
Why do solar lights only last 2 hours?
If solar lights only last 2 hours, it could be due to insufficient sunlight exposure during the day, a weak or old battery, or high brightness settings that consume more energy.
How long do solar lights last at night?
The duration of solar lights at night depends on the amount of solar energy they have stored during the day and how efficiently this energy is used. With optimal conditions and usage, solar lights can last throughout the night.
Solar lights are a great way to light up your outdoor space while also saving energy. However, like all electronic devices, they have a finite lifespan. By understanding how solar lights work, choosing the right ones, installing them properly, maintaining them regularly, using them efficiently, and storing them properly, you can significantly extend their lifespan. So, apply these tips and techniques to get the most out of your solar lights.
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”.