Yes, a solar battery not charging can be a significant issue, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace your entire solar lighting system. This article serves as a comprehensive guide to diagnosing and solving this common problem. Faulty equipment, incorrect connections, and issues with the solar panel or charge controller are often the culprits.
Most solar light companies offer up to a one-year warranty, so if your equipment is defective, replacements are usually covered. To diagnose the issue, a multimeter can be used to measure the voltage of your solar panel, battery, and controller. If any of these components are not functioning correctly, they likely need to be replaced.
Bad weather can also affect charging, but alternative methods like, car battery based or generators can be used. Placement and quality of the solar panel are crucial; low-quality panels or those placed in shaded areas will not charge effectively. Regular maintenance and checks can prevent issues like hot spots, cracked panels, and damaged diodes, which can all lead to charging problems.
Sometimes, the battery itself is the issue. Dead or degraded batteries will not charge and should be replaced. High-quality batteries are recommended as they degrade more slowly over time.
Why does a solar battery not charge
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 light 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Wrong setup
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.
7. 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 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.
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”.