Fixing Solar Lights

| July 29, 2010

In my last post I was very excited about my solar spotlights. They worked well and they helped me to see the trash when I made a night trash run. You would think that I’d leave well enough alone, wouldn’t you? Well, I didn’t.


Fiddling With Solar Lights

Because the three spotlights have wires connecting to the remote solar panel, I played around with the solar panel location to ensure it was getting the maximum amount of sunlight. I moved the panel about 3 inches to the left and changed the angle by about 5 degrees. I was sure that I moved it just enough to get the most sun.

Dark Trash Area

Well, my fiddling around with the solar panel proved to be a waste. That night the lights didn’t go on. My first thought was that I broke something when I moved the solar panel. After all, I only moved it 3 inches and a few degrees.

I thought I had dislodged the battery when I moved the panel so I opened the back of the solar panel, checked the connection to make sure the battery was touching the positive and negative terminals. I knew the battery was good because it was brand new.

After checking the battery, I checked to make sure the wires were all properly connected and they were. So, I closed everything up and waited until the following night to see if the lights would work.

Second Dark Night

My solar lights remained dark yet another night. By this time I was getting mad. The lights were less than a week old and I had thrown away the box they came in so I knew that returning the lights would be a hassle. As a writer I started to compose a scathing letter to the manufacturer complaining about their defective product. My brain was on fire with annoyance.

Last Ditch EffortSolar Panel

After going through all of the mental gyrations about the letter, checking the battery and solar panel wire connection, I finally decided to move the panel back 3 inches and down 5 degrees. What did I have to lose? Guess what…3 inches and 5 degrees fixed the problem (I really have to learn to leave well enough alone).

Solar Light Lesson

When it comes to ‘fixing’ a broken solar light, here are a few things I learned:

  1. Location, location, location. As I found out 3 inches and a few degrees made a major difference between light and dark. Make sure you test your solar lights in a few different locations before you pack them up and return them to the store.
  2. Clean the solar panel. Some times excess dirt will prevent the sun rays from getting through to the solar cells. Keep the solar panel clean.
  3. Check the battery terminal. In my case, these lights were brand new so they didn’t get a chance to accumulate gunk, minerals and nesting bugs. My front walkway lights, on the other hand, are home to a few fuzzy nesting insects. These insects can interfere with the battery/terminal connection.
  4. Replace or recharge the battery. Batteries get old and tired. Sometimes they have to be recharged, other times they have to be replaced.
  5. Check the LDR (this is something new I learned while researching my malfunctioning solar lights). The LDR which stands for light dependent resistor is the mechanism that tells the lights when to turn on. If it’s not working properly, the lights won’t turn on (even if your battery is charged). Luckily, I didn’t have to change the LDR so I don’t know how difficult it is to do.
  6. Don’t throw away the solar light packaging or receipt until you are absolutely sure they work consistently.

Oh and the biggest lesson of all…Leave well enough alone!

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Category: Lights, Solar

About the Author ()

Felicia is a bit of a tree hugger and likes to share ways to lighten the toxic burden on the environment.

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