Solar lights light up our residence when avoiding substantial electricity bills. But what happens when your solar is not working as expected?
Solar lights not working properly might be connected to a couple of issues. The battery not charging is one of the primary reasons. If the battery is not working, does it mean you will have to replace the whole solar lighting system? Stick around for a master solution for your solar battery problem.
why does a solar battery not charging: Master Solution
Imagine buying new solar lights for your flower garden only or not lighting up after installation? The frustration and lack of knowledge about solar lights might lead you to spend more money trying to fix a problem you don’t know.
In this article, we will help you diagnose and fix your solar lights issue. One of the main problems that might cause the solar lights not to work might be the issue with the battery not charging. Some of the reasons your solar battery might not be charging are;
- Faulty equipment
- Wrong connection
- Issues with the solar panel
- A defective solar charge controller
- Faulty battery
In case of faulty equipment, replace it with new functional ones. Most solar lights companies offer up to a one-year warranty limited to defective equipment and free labor for that one year.
How do you know if the solar panel is causing your solar battery not to charge?
Apart from defective solar lights equipment, the solar panel might be the issue when your solar battery is not charging. However, you cannot assume the problem is the solar panel without having a deep check on your solar panel.
Bad weather might be why your battery might not be charging most of the time. In case you live in cold places during winter, you can use alternative charging methods such as a generator or flashlight. If the battery is still not charging, bad weather is not the cause.
Follow the following steps to test the status of your solar lighting system.
- Buy a multimeter: Connect a viable multimeter to your system. A multimeter measures the voltage of your panel. When checking the voltage, ensure that the panel is exposed to sunlight. If the multimeter does not display the voltage, the solar panel is defective.
- Measure the battery’s voltage: In instances where the battery has too high or too low voltage, the controller hinders the battery from charging.
- Measure the voltage of the solar controller: use the multimeter to measure the terminal voltage of the solar terminal. If the voltage is not in range, your solar controller has an issue.
- Check the equipment: We stated that the solar lights equipment might be defective. First, check if your solar panel, battery, and charge controller are intact. If any of them is faulty, you can contact the solar lights company for a replacement.
Issues with the solar panel.
There are several reasons why your solar panel might be why your battery is not charging.
- Placement of the solar panel
Exposure to direct sunlight will make your battery charge correctly. So the opposite is true. If your solar panel is placed under a shade or the trees are in the way of the sunlight, then your solar panel will not charge.
Make sure you install the solar panel where it is exposed to direct sunlight. For example, during winter, the solar panel on the window faces the sunlight.
- Low-quality panels: All low-quality products cannot serve you for long. Cheap panels are bound to burst faster. They also have weak internal circuits that might be limiting the amount of energy being harvested by the panel.
Please invest in quality panels once and enjoy the free energy from the sun for a lifetime.
- Hot spots: After a long time using solar panels, some areas may tend to turn dark. This is created when the sun hits a certain point directly for a long time.
This hot point damages your solar panel, and soon it starts losing efficiency.
Replace the solar panel after a few years of use. But, again, regular checkups of the panels would help your case.
- Cracked panels: After exposure to sunlight for years, your solar panel can crack. The cracks are tiny and can be missed. These cracks will cause some damage to the internal components. Water can also seep in through those cracks.
In this case, have regular checks done on your panel.
- Damaged Diodes
Broken diodes are such a complex issue for your panel. In the case of the broken diode, the diode might be reversing the circuit which drains your battery. So over a long time of unnoticing, the drained battery will be dead.
Setting up a solar battery is a technology that not everyone knows. However, most solar lights companies give setup manuals to their clients. Use this step-by-step guide to connect the battery to the solar panel and the lamps correctly.
A dead battery
Sometimes a dead battery might be why your solar lights are not lighting.
A dead battery will not charge and cannot be repaired. However, rechargeable batteries can be replaced.
Follow this guide to learn how you can check for dead solar batteries.
No matter which battery you are using, the battery starts degrading the moment you start using it. Since there is nothing, you can do in case of a dead battery. You should invest in high-quality batteries as they take longer to degrade.
Check for the following to know if your battery is almost dead or dead.
- Cracks on the battery case
- Broken terminals
- A pool of liquid near your battery
You can use a voltmeter to test the voltage of your solar battery.
How do you reset a solar battery?
You can do a hard reset on your battery by;
- Step 1: Start by taking off the controller from the wall.
- Step 2: Disconnect the four wires behind the controller.
- Step 3: Next, disconnect both the battery positive and the panel negative.
- Step 4:Wait for about 30 minutes before connecting them back.
- Step 5:Reconnect the battery wires first, then the solar panel’s wire.
How do you reset a solar charge controller?
A solar charger controller protects the battery from being overloaded by energy from the solar panel. Here is how you do a soft and hard reset to your solar charge controller.
- To perform a soft reset, press the power and reset buttons together.
- Hold for a few seconds until the screen of the solar controller reboots.
- For a hard reset, disconnect the wires from the battery and the solar panels.
- Wait for a few minutes before reconnecting.
Do a hard reset at night when there is no energy being harvested by the solar panel.
How do you test a solar battery charger
One way of testing Is your battery charger is not working is by using a multimeter.
- Connect the battery to the solar panel when the sun is hot and measure the voltage.
Suppose the voltage is less than 11V when the battery is connected. And 13V or 14V when the battery is disconnected, the battery charger is faulty.
Will a solar panel charge a dead battery?
As said before, all batteries deteriorate from the first time you start using them. Once the battery is drained enough, it stops being effective. A solar panel can therefore not charge a dead battery.
How can I check that my solar charge controller is working?
The most efficient and convenient way to check if the solar charge controller is working is by measuring the multimeter’s voltage.
If the controller is showing 0.0amps when charging, the breakers, input voltage, or wiring has an issue.
These are some ways you can check if the controller is working.
- If the battery is full or nearly complete, the amps will drop.
- The input voltage should be about 18V for a standard solar panel.
- Dirt on the panel might be why your solar battery is not charging.
Wipe the solar panel carefully without pouring the liquid or scrubbing. If the lights are working after cleaning, your solar charger controller is working.
If all this does not work, try doing a soft reset and if that does not work either, do a hard reset. If the battery is still not charging, install a new controller.
You can hire a well-known solar company to help you with testing and replacement.
Proper Maintenance of your home solar lighting system
Like any other system, proper Maintenance will add a life span to your solar lights. Since we said that the battery deteriorates, the controller can become defective. The panel can get damaged; what do we do to reduce these defects.
- Clean the solar panel
Solar panels are bound to collect dust and debris. However, if you have a tilted solar panel, then the rain can wash away the dust without damaging the solar panels.
To improve the efficiency of the solar panel, deep clean the panels at least three times a year. In addition, cleaning the panels will prevent the battery from getting drained.
- Learn to take care of the sensor.
The sensor is responsible for turning on and off the solar lights. If the sensor is damaged, the lights will remain on, draining the battery.
- Take advantage of the warranty
You can live an electricity bills-free life once you choose to use solar lights at your home. In addition, most companies give up to 20 years of warranty to replace defective parts as part of the deal.
Check with your dealer their warranty period. Then, if your solar lights start misbehaving, you can call the solar company for a checkup.
- Check regularly the state of the battery
If your battery is leaking or there is a pool of liquid near the battery. Then the battery needs replacement. Alternatively, the battery can be dead after using it for a long.
Most company’s battery life span is ten years. So to carry out these practices to maintain your solar battery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I charge my solar battery using a flashlight?
If you are using an LED bulb, it is possible to charge the battery. But, first, direct the light to the solar panel. This method takes up to 10hours for a battery to charge fully.
Is it possible to reset the whole solar lighting system
Yes. If you want to reset every part of your solar lights. Resetting the entire solar lights system reduces the process of resetting each piece. You can use some internet videos to learn how to reset your solar inverter.
How long should my solar batteries last?
Factoring that batteries depreciate once you start using them, solar batteries should last up to 10 years without a replacement.
You should, however, replace the rechargeable batteries at least after four years.
Can high heat from the sun damage the solar panel?
The high heat from the sun over a long per causes a shadow-like effect on the solar panel. This shadow is known as the hot spot. A hot spot will damage the solar panel, making it difficult to charge the battery.
Batteries and solar panels are bound to be ineffective after a long period. That does not, however, mean you buy any solar lighting system.
A high-quality solar lighting system will serve you up to 20years without being defective. You should, however, change the rechargeable batteries after four years.
Apart from bad weather, all the factors named in the guide that affect the solar panel can be prevented by regular checks and Maintenance to your solar lighting system. In bad weather, charge the battery with other alternatives like electricity.
Ensure the panel is cleaned regularly, the controller tested, and the whole solar lighting system reset. If you are not conversant with technical stuff, this guide will help you. Also, be smart about the warranty given by your dealer. In case of damaged equipment within the warranty period, you are given a new kit and free labor.
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”.