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5 Main Reasons Why Your Solar Lights Are Not Performing as Well as New.

Posted By: Your Solar Link Team on December 2, 2010 in Solar News - Comments: 153 Comments »

What is the life span of solar lights?

Many times the question pops up regarding the life span of solar powered lights. How does one ensure the best performance and prolong the life of solar lights? After a while, you might notice that your solar lights are not as bright as when you first bought them. And without knowing the basics of solar lights, you may become confused about what exactly happened. Could it be that your solar lights got old and need to be recycled or is there something that you just need to know about the maintenance of your solar powered products?

Solar lights need four essential components to function:

1. A rechargeable battery to store the power generated by the energy from the sun.

2. A small photovoltaic cell or solar array that captures sunlight during the day and converts it into electrical energy. The solar array is usually built right into the light fixture. Some light designs have separate solar arrays connected by a thin wire allowing the light to be located in a shady area while the solar array itself is placed in a bright, sunny location.

3. A “charge controller” to ensure the batteries don’t get overcharged in bright sunlight as well as to monitor the amount of light in the surrounding area and turn the LED (light emitting diode) light on and off.

4. An LED (or a series of LEDs) which provides the light.

10-Pack NiCd AA700mAh 1.2V Rechargeable Batteries

10-Pack NiCd AA700mAh 1.2V Rechargeable Batteries at http://www.yoursolarlink.com.

Image by Your Solar Link.

Rechargeable Solar Light Batteries are the major cause of failure in solar garden lights (5 main reasons why your solar lights are not performing as well as new.)

Rechargeable solar batteries will self-discharge which means that over time the batteries will discharge to a point where they no longer work.

It is important to ensure you charge your solar lights at least every three (3) months to ensure the battery stays in good shape and lasts its life span, generally 1-2 years.

Replace your old batteries when they run their life cycle.

When you purchase your solar lights, the rechargeable batteries are often already included in the fixture. After 1-2 years (or a matter of months in some cases) it is quite normal to see their performance decline. Once you notice that the lighting time is considerably diminishing and the lights are not as bright as before, it’s probably time to replace your rechargeable solar garden light batteries.

Another reason of reduced lighting time and brightness can also be that the solar light batteries are not charging correctly.

For the best charging performances the solar panel needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Dust and other accumulated residues can considerably affect the charging procedure. They form a coating layer on the solar panel and block the sunlight.

10-Pack NiCd AA600mAh 1.2V Rechargeable Batteries

10-Pack NiCd AA600mAh 1.2V Rechargeable Batteries at http://www.yoursolarlink.com.

Image by Your Solar Link.

An easy way to check if the rechargeable batteries are dead is to test them by briefly replacing them with regular batteries, just long enough to check if the light is working. If you are testing the solar light during the day, don’t forget to cover it, or place the light in a darkened room. This will allow the photocell to trigger the light to its “on” position. If the solar light turns on with normal batteries it means that the rechargeable batteries are faulty and you will need to buy a new set.

Important: don’t forget to pay particular attention to the location of the solar lights.

Batteries will not charge properly if the solar panel is in the shade, they rely on the energy of the sun to charge.

There is another simple test you can do before replacing the solar light rechargeable batteries. Place your solar lights under direct sunshine for a day or two and see what happens. If, after this duration, the illumination time is back to normal, it means that the solar panel was not getting enough light from the sun. Commonly, solar lights should be in direct sunlight for at least 4 hours a day to adequately charge the rechargeable batteries.

If you store your solar lights for long periods of time, take the batteries out!

When you had to store your garden solar lights for a long period of time (during winter months, for example), did you take out the batteries? If you did, your solar light batteries will have a longer life span.

10-Pack NiMH AA1000mAh 1.2V Rechargeable Batteries

10-Pack NiMH AA1000mAh 1.2V Rechargeable Batteries at http://www.yoursolarlink.com.

Image by Your Solar Link.

Replacing solar light batteries is not a difficult task.

All you have to do is to locate the solar light battery cover, remove it, take out the defective batteries and replace them with new ones. If no battery cover can be found, the solar light needs to be taken apart, usually with one or two screws. On most models you’ll find the screws on the top or bottom of the light. Once the unit is open you’ll have access to the batteries.

Types of rechargeable batteries.

Most solar garden lights need between 1 to 4 batteries to work. 2 types of batteries are usually used in garden solar lights: AA size – NiCad(Nickel Cadmium) 1.2 V / 500 to 900mA, and AA size – NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) 1.2 V /1000 to 2000mA.

When it is time to change the solar light rechargeable batteries, the choice of battery also plays an important part in ensuring the enhanced performance of your solar lights.

Nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH) will have up to three times more capacity than the same size Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) battery, meaning they are capable of lasting longer and more reliable.

NiMH batteries in your solar lights may cost a little extra but they are more environmentally friendly than NiCd batteries. NiMH batteries are more environmentally friendly because they use a dry liquid, which can be disposed of more easily. They will also withstand greater temperature fluctuations operating in temperatures ranging from -20 to 60 degrees Celsius (-4 to 140F). Ni-MH batteries have a “non-memory effect” which means they will continue to charge on cloudy days. The battery performance will not be diminished by these partial charges, as what can occur with lead acid batteries.

10-Pack NiMH AAA900mAh 1.2V Rechargeable Batteries

10-Pack NiMH AAA900mAh 1.2V Rechargeable Batteries at http://www.yoursolarlink.com.

Image by Your Solar Link.

Solar light replacement batteries are standard and can be found easily. If you know these solar lights basics, with minimum maintenance effort you will enjoy your solar powered lights for years.

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  1. Kit Kit says:

    Hi. I bought a solar light from Amazon, having never used one before. I was told that I needed to place it in direct sunlight during the day and that it would then charge up and glow at night. It has been sat on a sunny windowsill (south-facing) for several days, but nary a glimmer.

    Am I doing something wrong? Or is the light faulty?

    • Hello Kit,

      Our first guess at troubleshooting would be to check the batteries. Sometimes when lights are provided by a manufacturer, they will place a small plastic tab between the battery (usually at the button portion / positive terminal) and the contact point on the battery box. Even if the tab were removed prior to you receiving the light and the charge was used up in transit, then it should still charge if the panel is in direct sunlight. Which leads us to our next troubleshoot….

      Try putting a regular alkaline battery (if you have one available) in the light to see if it goes on. If it does, then it is probably a faulty rechargeable battery that your light came with. Be sure to use a rechargeable battery (don’t keep the the alkaline one in there) that has the same specifications as the original. You can use NiMH in place of NiCd (and vice versa). But don’t use a Lithium battery if your lights came with NiMH/NiCd type of batteries. Lithiums have a higher voltage and will fry out the LEDs of a NiMH/NiCd light within seconds.

      Another troubleshoot would be to check if there is an on/off switch concealed somewhere on the light. Most lights have on/off switches in easy-to-reach places. But depending on the manufacturer, they could have put a switch somewhere out of the way so that it won’t be damaged or accidentally turned off.

      The final test would be to try placing it outside for charging. Sunlight going through the window of your home should be sufficient to charge the panel. If you have a screen on the window, that could be enough to block adequate light from the solar panel. But it is worth trying outside just to be sure.

      If you have tested the battery fix, there are no switches, there are no screens on the window and the light still doesn’t go on, then it could be a matter of faulty circuitry/wiring somewhere within the light. If that is the case, it may be best to replace the light from the Amazon seller. It is atypical that a light has internal issues, but it can happen.

      Hopefully this helps and that you are able to get your lights up and running soon.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  2. jean wylie jean wylie says:

    Hi,
    I have a path light that looks great except the solar panel is shot (plastic is cracked and crumbly). I like it enough to buy and install a new panel but cannot find any on internet. I think the problem is I need a search term that means ‘little solar panel that fits in a garden light’. Can you suggest the right term so I can get past thousands of solar panels that are meant for roof tops? Thanks

    • Hello Jean,

      We understand the frustration in looking for just the panels for solar garden lights. Sometimes that component is the only part that goes out and finding replacements can be cumbersome. Anyway, we have seen them as individual components at Fry’s Electronics (if you have one of those stores nearby). We found some individual solar cells (that may be a better keyword to find what you are looking for online) on their website. They also have a kit that may be useful to replace other parts of your lights if needed. It may be a matter of finding a matching (or close) size to the one you want to replace. The load capacity (how much sun it will collect and transfer to the batteries) should be comparable to the existing light, so long as the sizing is the same (or again, as close to it as possible).

      Hopefully this information helps and that you are able to get your solar lights back up and running again soon.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  3. Mike Mike says:

    I replaced the batteries in my solar light. Then placed in sun before turning it on. When I turned it on and tested it, it worked. Light came when I covered panel and of when uncovered. I put it on the flag pole and that night it did not light. Now I check and when I switch from off to auto, when dark, it turns on for about 15 seconds. If I turn off and on again, it turns on for 15 seconds. What could be the issue? It appears to be getting a charge since the light turns on. I did move the light into more direCT sunlight but it did not improve the performance.

    • Hello Mike,

      There are a couple of things that could be happening with your solar lights.

      1. The photocell is working improperly. Some lights come with the photocell as a separate component. Many new lights have that component integrated with the solar panel. The function of the photocell is to detect light. High levels of light from the sun, car headlights or other nearby light sources will keep the light off and direct the flow of energy from the solar panels to the rechargeable batteries. Once light levels are low or non-existent, then electricity flows from the battery to the LEDs. So, problems with the photocell could cause the flow of electricity to go only from the solar panel, through the battery and continue on to the LEDs. Any energy stored will be minimal as it is constantly fed to the LEDs (if this is the case, you may see that the LEDs are “on” during the day.) There could be a loose connection between the solar panel and the circuit board. This is very rare, but nevertheless, it is a possibility.

      2. There is a bridged connection in the soldering of the circuit board that is bypassing the function of the photocell. You might be able to fix this, but it will take some investigating and dismantling of the light. Also, to find the bridge will take further knowledge of electronic circuit boards.

      You may want to (if you haven’t already) test it for the proper functioning of the batteries. If your light uses a standard AA or AAA battery, try putting in a regular alkaline battery to see if the LED comes on full bright as designed. If it does, then it may be one of the 2 issues above that are causing your rechargeables to not retain charge in the evening. If the LED does not come on, then it may be something beyond the 2 situations above that will require further investigation into the connection of the LEDs.

      Hopefully this helps and that you are able to get your lights back up and running soon.

      Thank you for your inquiry with us at Your Solar Link.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  4. Moira Moira says:

    what is the difference between AA solar rechargeables and regular rechargeables? Do i have to buy specifically solar rechargeables to replace existing solar rechargeables

    • Hello Moira,

      The primary difference between “solar” rechargeable and regular rechargeables is the energy storage capacity, which is measured in mAh (milliAmpere-hours). Solar lights will use batteries that range in capacities between 250 to 1200 mAh. There are no differences if a battery is labelled as “solar” or not, so long as the specifications are the same. Those specifications are as follows:

      1. Battery size (in your case, AA).
      2. Voltage (typically 1.2 Volts for NiMH/NiCd batteries and 3.2 Volts for Lithium batteries).
      3. Chemistry (most common on the market are NiMH, NiCd and Lithium).
      4. Energy capacity, as mAh (anywhere from 250 to 1200 for solar garden lights).

      You will want to keep the Voltage and Chemistry the same as your existing batteries. You can replace NiCd with NiMH (and vice versa). We recommend using NiMH whenever possible as they are not susceptible to the “memory effect” that is common with NiCd. Also, Cadmium is considered a toxic material and needs to be disposed of properly. Metal Hydrides can be thrown out in the trash, but we still recommend recycling them whenever possible.

      The “solar” on the battery is probably a method used by the manufacturer to make it more visible when looking for replacement batteries in solar lights. There are rechargeable batteries on the market that have higher mAh capacities and are typically used in remote control cars, phones, etc. So, the “solar” indication means that the mAh is probably going to be in that 250 to 1200 range and are not practical for the remote controlled, high discharge/recharge products.

      Hopefully this helps with your inquiry and that you are able to find the replacement batteries for your solar lights. Thank you for your inquiry/question with us at Your Solar Link.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  5. mark christopher mark christopher says:

    I am buying replacement batteries for my solar powered garden lights. Is there a difference between a rechargeable AAA battery and a “solar” rechargeable AAA battery?

    • Hello Mark,

      There are no differences if a battery is labelled as “solar” or not, so long as the specifications are the same. Those specifications are as follows:

      1. Battery size (in your case, AAA).
      2. Voltage (typically 1.2 Volts for NiMH/NiCd batteries and 3.2 Volts for Lithium batteries).
      3. Chemistry (most common on the market are NiMH, NiCd and Lithium).
      4. Energy capacity, as mAh (anywhere from 250 to 1200 for solar garden lights).

      You will want to keep the Voltage and Chemistry the same as your existing batteries. You can replace NiCd with NiMH (and vice versa). We recommend using NiMH whenever possible as they are not susceptible to the “memory effect” that is common with NiCd. Also, Cadmium is considered a toxic material and needs to be disposed of properly. Metal Hydrides can be thrown out in the trash, but we still recommend recycling them whenever possible.

      The “solar” on the battery is probably a method used by the manufacturer to make it more visible when looking for replacement batteries in solar lights. There are rechargeable batteries on the market that have higher mAh capacities and are typically used in remote control cars, phones, etc. So, the “solar” indication means that the mAh is probably going to be in that 250 to 1200 range and are not practical for the remote controlled, high discharge/recharge products.

      Hopefully this helps with your inquiry and that you are able to find the replacement batteries for your solar lights. Thank you for your inquiry/question with us at Your Solar Link.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  6. Stephanie Stephanie says:

    I have a solar powered flower which was left in the on position when packed for the winter. The 12 other solar powered flowers were packed in the off position and are working fine now. The problem flower had a small illuminated light at the base of the flower which remained on the entire time as long as it was “on”. After leaving it out in the sun all day it does not illuminate at night but the next morning it has the little light on at the base again. I bought a replacement battery thinking that was the issue but it behaves the same way with a new battery.. What do you think the problem is? What else can I do to trouble shoot?
    Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you.
    Best Regards, Stephanie

    • Hello Stephanie,

      Sorry to hear that the light is not going on as are the other 12 lights. One troubleshoot that you can try is to put a regular alkaline battery in to see if the LED illuminates the same as the other 12. This test should work if your existing batteries are NiCd/NiMH chemistry with 1.2 Volts per battery. If your lights use Lithium batteries, you will need to test it with a Lithium battery (they have a higher Voltage of 3.2). Be sure not to test a NiCd/NiMH light with a Lithium battery. The higher Voltage of Lithium batteries will fry out the LED in a matter of seconds (we have tested this). Be sure not to leave an alkaline battery in the light for nightly operation. If an alkaline battery is in the light during the day, current will flow into the battery via the solar panel and will damage the battery and cause corrosion to build up on the terminals (we’ve seen this in the field).

      If the light still doesn’t work after the troubleshoot above, then it may be something along the circuitry of the light that is causing the LED to not illuminate as much as the other lights. At that point, the light is not going to function properly and you will continue to get the performance that it currently is exhibiting.

      From the situation you described, it sounds like you may have NiCd batteries. These are prone to what is known as the “memory effect” and may perform as you described for light 13. If you had the 12 lights in the off position, they may have had a full charge prior to being turned off. So, if they were only off for the winter season, then that charge will slowly trickle down. So, when recharged for this season, they will continue to illuminate as intended. NiMH batteries do not have the problems of the “memory effect” and can be charged/discharged at irregular intervals without suffering from these performance issues.

      Hopefully this information helps and that you are able to get light 13 back up and running again. Thank you for your inquiry/question with us at Your Solar Link.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link.

  7. jay jay says:

    Hi my new solar orb was working fine then we had rain and now it wont work have replaced with new battery completely dried it out any suggestion as it was expensive

    • Hello Jay,

      It may be that the circuitry within the light was damaged by the rain. If there was a leak, it could have made contact with the circuit board in such a quantity to have permanently damaged that component. If you have dried out the light and it still doesn’t work, then it may be that this situation has occurred and the light is damaged. Replacing the circuit board will be very difficult (finding an exact match as well as installation).

      If possible, you may want to contact the store from where you purchased the light to see if there is a way to exchange it for a new one. Hopefully you will be able to get a replacement and have your light up and running again soon.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  8. Angela Cheater Angela Cheater says:

    I bought a dual function light / UV light (insect killer) garden solar lamp, followed all set-up instructions and it didn’t work. Cause: leaking 3.2V 250mA LI-ION battery You say never to use LI-ION in place of NIMH. However, I can’t find a replacement locally (in Phuket, Thailand) for my LI-ION battery, so could I use what is available, namely 1.2V 1000-2000mA NIMH instead? Stepping down the voltage shouldn’t fry the circuitry or the bulb, right? But would it work??

    • Hello Angela,

      Sorry to hear that your new light is not working. A leaky battery is never a good thing.

      As for the replacement batteries, you will want to stay with the Lithium batteries as they are going to fit in the battery box of your garden solar lamp. You could pair up multiple NiMH batteries in series (as in a line configuration) to achieve a higher Voltage. However, doing so will create too high of a Voltage and may damage your lights (each NiMH is 1.2; so if multiplied by 3 batteries, you will end up with 3.6 Volts. This is too high for your light.) If you only put 2 NiMH batteries in series you will end up with 2.4 Volts. This won’t be enough to energize your light.

      With regard to the mAh rating, you only need a 250 mAh capacity battery; so using a high mAh rated NiMH series won’t make a difference in performance. That figure represents the amount of energy (capacity) the battery can store from charging. You will want to stay at or as close as possible above 250 mAh when looking for a replacement. Using a much higher mAh battery will just end up costing more and not necessarily keep your light on longer each night.

      There are companies online that sell single Lithium batteries (if that is all you need). We have them at Your Solar Link (with the exact ratings you need), but in packs of 10. So this may not be advantageous for you to purchase 9 additional batteries to get your light up and running again. We have seen the single batteries on onlybatteries.com and they are pretty reasonable with their shipping charges.

      Hopefully this helps and that you are able to get your light/bug zapper up and running soon.

      Thank you for your inquiry with us at Your Solar Link.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

      • Angela Cheater Angela Cheater says:

        Thanks, Mario. I also tried checking whether the light circuitry is okay by using an ordinary, non-rechargeable AA battery (new), but that didn’t work either, so I’m wondering whether I should use give up?!

        • Hello Angela,

          Sorry for the delayed reply to your follow up question. If you did go through the circuitry and nothing appears to be bridged or out of place, and the battery test didn’t work, then it sounds like it may be something within the circuit board that has failed. It could be that the LED has also failed. Either of these two conditions will essentially render the light damaged and fixing it will cost more time and money than it may take to simply purchase a new light altogether. Sorry we couldn’t help troubleshoot the issue with your light, but these steps should be enough to fix a light that is fixable. Beyond that may be more trouble than it is worth to get the light up and running.

          Thank you again for your questions and for your patience in getting back to you.

          Cheers,

          Mario

  9. Lesley Lesley says:

    Hi, I have two lots of fairy lights in trees in my garden, I left them switched off for a couple of days as instructed on the box. I then turned them on and for the first night or two they lit up and looked lovely then on the following night only one set worked and the following night both sets stopped working. Ive turned them off again so they might re-charge but still nothing…can you help?

    • Hello Lesley,

      Our apologies for the delayed response to your inquiry. In reference to the procedure of charging your batteries prior to energizing the LEDs (2 days of charging with the switch in the “off” position), it sounds like the batteries may have had residual charge prior to your 2-day procedure. When the lights were on at night, they may have just used what energy was left in them from the factory. This conclusion is made due to the fact that the solar panels should have collected sunlight during the “on” days and stored the energy in the batteries. However, if the batteries are old and no longer operational, then a full day’s charge won’t make a difference in the battery function.

      A test you could run would be to get a rechargeable battery (if just one is available to you) to see if the light collects and discharges electricity in the new battery on a day/night cycle. If the new battery still doesn’t hold charge, then there could be a break in the circuitry that is impeding the flow of electricity. That break could be anywhere between the solar panel/battery, battery/circuit board or circuit board/LEDs. It sounds like the lights in the string all worked (at least on the first night), so it doesn’t seem like there would be a break between the LEDs in the string that is causing the problem.

      Rechargeable batteries have a typical lifespan of about 2 years. But that is for daily usage. If your fairy lights have NiMH rechargeable batteries, they have the potential of sitting on the shelf (not in use) for anywhere between 3 to 5 years, depending on the brand of battery. But generally NiMH batteries do not need to be conditioned (with a 2-day cycle) as would a Lead-Acid rechargeable battery solar light.

      Hopefully this helps and that you were/are able to get your fairy lights back up and running again soon.

      Cheers,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  10. Oinc Oinc says:

    Is it worth increasing the MAH up, say from 600 mAh to 800 mAh on battery replacement or is this just a waste of money? Solar cells can only produce so much power during the day. What about if you have room, soldering your own pack together, going from 2 AAA to 2 AA, same volts, mAH rating?

  11. Can we recharge AA rechargeable batteries, intended for solar lights, with electric battery chargers?

    We have several AA operated indoor led candles, in addition to the many garden and gutter solar lights that we have outside.

    Thanks!

    • Hello Steve,

      Our apologies in the delayed response to your inquiry/question. We recommend not using a home charger to charge your AA rechargeable batteries intended for solar lights. The solar panel should be enough to provide electricity to the batteries. If it doesn’t, then the light isn’t operating as designed and will require outside charging for each night of use, which is cumbersome and against the original intent of the light.

      Some home chargers may not have an internal cutoff switch, thus the potential of overcharging (and ultimately heating and damage of) the batteries may occur. As above, it is best to charge only within the solar light, as it will provide the right amount of charge, is a low-voltage charger (thus, safer to use) and doesn’t require the removal/replacement every night that the light is used.

      As for the indoor LED candles, specifications on home chargers vary. From what we have seen, this range (for AA rechargeables) usually starts at around 1500 mAh and goes up from there. So, if you were to put a 600 mAh battery in this example of a home charger, you may overheat the 600 battery as it will charge faster than would a 1500 battery. It would depend on the particular home charger you are using whether or not there is a safety feature built into it to ensure that it shuts off should a battery become charged to capacity and avoid overcharging/heating. If the indoor LED candles use rechargeables, you may want to stay with whatever specifications they came with.

      There are solar chargers on the market (that way you wouldn’t need to take the batteries out of a light after it was charged to be placed into the candle) that may work to charge a battery intended for solar lights (mAh range is anywhere from 300 to 1000). This option may help to give you peace of mind to avoid the high voltage home charger issues and to reduce the amount of replacement in and out of your solar lights, should you choose to stay off-grid with your energy generation for the LED candle batteries.

      This is a very interesting question you have asked and we hope to have been able to provide some information that is useful for your LED candles. Thank you for your patience in getting back to you. Hopefully you are able to get all of your lights up and running again soon.

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  12. Lana Lana says:

    Do you know where I could find Nimh aa 1800 mah 4.8v? I can’t seem to find them anywhere. Thanks Lana

    • Hello Lana,

      It sounds like you may have a battery pack (4 x NiMH AA 1800 mAh connected in series to give you the 4.8 Volts). These packs can be found online with a quick google search (just put in the specifications you have and there should be several options that come up). There are also online stores that sell these packs such as OnlyBatteries. However, they may charge a premium for their packs, so you may want to again check through google to see what best pricing you can find.

      Thank you and hopefully you will be able to find the correct pack for your lights.

      Cheers,

      Your Solar Link Team

  13. Mary Mary says:

    How do you clean the plastic disk covering the solar panel? It is cloudy and the lights don’t stay on as long now; what do I do to clean it?

    • Hello Mary,

      We may have answered this question in our post above. Just to recap, you will want to clean the cover with a small amount of dish soap and water. Once the soap is rinsed off, apply a light coat of either a clear spray lacquer or clear nail polish. This will help to create a clear surface through which sunlight will pass and efficiently reach the solar cells below. Also, you may want to consider (if your lights are around 2 years old) replacing the rechargeable batteries. If you have a clear panel surface and the lights are not as bright or staying on as long at night, it could be that the batteries need replacement.

      Hopefully this helps and that you are able to get your lights back up and running in top shape again soon.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  14. Mary Mary says:

    How do you clean the plastic disk covering the solar panel

    • Hello Mary,

      There are a few quick and easy ways to clean an occluded solar panel cover for your garden solar lights. The most effective we have seen (and tested) is to rinse it first with clean water to clear off any mud that may have built up over time. While the panel is still wet, use a soft cloth or sponge with a small amount of dish soap (so as to not harm the plants around the light, if it is being cleaned in place) and gently rub the surface to clean off any excess dirt. Then a quick rinse with water should do the trick.

      For older lights, it may be beneficial to put a clear coating of clear lacquer (spray is the easiest) or clear nail polish on the panel cover. Doing this step of a clear coating treatment will create a more efficient surface through which sunlight can pass and effectively reach the solar cells below. Some solar lights have a glass cover over the solar cells, so they won’t necessarily become occluded. However, there are lights on the market that have a clear plastic cover, and this component can (and usually does) become opaque over time. This will affect the efficiency of the solar light by letting in less sunlight (less sun = less activity in the solar cells = less energy generated to be supplied to the rechargeable batteries).

      Hopefully this information helps and that we were able to answer your question. Also, if your batteries are the originals that came with the light, and you’ve had the light for 2 years (or close to it), then it may be time to change that component out as well. Batteries typically have a lifespan of about 2 years regular/daily use and can usually be replaced.

      Thank you for your inquiry with us at Your Solar Link.

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  15. David Diaz David Diaz says:

    Do I have to manually charge replacement battteries before using them?

    • Hello David,

      Our apologies for the delay in getting back to you. In reference to manual charging before use, no, you do not need to pre-charge your batteries before putting them in your solar lights. We recommend putting new batteries in the light during pre-dawn hours just to ensure that you get a full charge for the first night. But we strongly recommend against charging the batteries in a home charger. One thing that could happen in a home charger is that the battery overcharges and that the charger (which may not have a built in safety feature) will overheat and potentially burst the battery that is intended for solar lights.

      Solar lights on the market are designed where the batteries will get all the charge they need from the built in solar panels for each light. So, you will not need to turn the light “on” or “off” each night (unless you are saving charge for a party or event where you want to guarantee that you have enough battery storage for the event) and you do not need to pre-charge the batteries before use. The only lights where we have seen a battery that requires pre-conditioning before its first use is a Lead Acid battery light. They are not as common, but they often require a 2 to 3 day charge (with the light in the “off” position) before being switched to a permanent “on” position.

      Hopefully this helps and thank you for your patience in getting back to you.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  16. Pat Pat says:

    Help please. Can I replace my solar light batteries which are a mixture of 1.2V Ni-Cd and AA Ni-Mh 500 with 1000 mah AA. I am very confused.

    • Hello Pat,

      One thing to keep consistent with your solar lights is the battery chemistry. You can replace NiCd with NiMH (and vice versa); but if your light uses two or more batteries, then you will want to make sure to use only one type of chemistry in the light. Another thing to keep consistent is the mAh rating. If you keep the chemistry the same but use different capacities in the light (of 2 or more batteries), then they won’t charge to their optimum performance. Furthermore, it could decrease the life span of one (or both) batteries if their mAh ratings are different. We recommend using new batteries (and not mixing up old and new batteries) when replacing the originals. This way you know that they are equal in their capacity of energy storage and output to the LEDs.

      You can use higher rated mAh batteries as replacements, but again, be sure that they are the same capacity if the light uses 2 or more batteries. So, you would want to use 2 or more of the 500 mAh in your light. Equally so, you would want to use 2 ore more of the 1000 mAh, if that higher rated battery is all that is available to you as a replacement for your 500 mAh light.

      So, things to keep the same (consistent) are:

      Voltage (in your case, 1.2)
      Chemistry (either NiCd or NiMH)
      Capacity (mAh rating)
      Size (again, in your case, AA)

      Hopefully this helps and that you are able to get your lights up and running again soon.

      Cheers,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  17. Wendy Wendy says:

    Hello I have been using solar fairy lights for 2 months and now both sets have stopped working completely,they are getting enough sun,I have tried a normal battery in one of the sets and the bulbs did light up so I put in a rechargeable battery but is was a bit higher it is 1.2v but a 500mAh then the one that was in the set.The one in the set being NI-MH AA 300mAh 1.2v I can’t find in any shop,I am hoping it’s just the batteries!

    • Hello Wendy,

      Sorry for our delay in getting back to you regarding your questions on the solar fairy lights. You did the right thing to test the lights with a regular alkaline battery to be sure that it was an issue with the old battery and not the other components in the string (LEDs, wiring, solar panel, circuit board). If your lights originally came with a 1.2 Volt battery, then you will definitely want to keep the Voltage the same. But you can use a higher rated mAh (milliAmp hour) battery. So, if your original batteries had the NiMH AA 300 mAh 1.2 Volt specifications, you could use a 300 or higher mAh rechargeable battery as a replacement. Typically (here in the US anyway), replacement batteries come in 300, 600, 800 and 1000 mAh capacities. The 500 you mentioned should work, however if it is also an older battery, then it may not perform as intended (the average life span of rechargeable batteries in solar lights is about 2 years with nightly use).

      So, if you are able to find a new set of rechargeables (again, 300 or higher mAh rating), then that may be your best bet in order to get your fairy lights up and running again. If you are going to use a higher rated mAh battery, try to stay as close (above) to the original 300 rating. You can use a 1000 mAh battery, but it will cost more than say a 600, and it won’t necessarily make your lights stay on any longer at night. They just have the capacity to hold enough energy for a 1000 mAh light.

      Hopefully this helps. Again, our apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

      Cheers,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  18. Claudia Wines Claudia Wines says:

    I want solar lights that charge outside during the day and can be used inside during a power outage. I want at least one that is powerful enough to read by, as there isn’t much else one can do during a power outage after dark. I have just spent two hours on the Internet and can’t find the answer. What brand, what are the specifications, and where do I buy some.
    Thanks for your help

    • Hello Claudia,

      This is a very good question as most solar lights on the market are for a fixed location. There are several options, but the best ones would be the Solar LED Reading Light or the Solar Camping Lantern.

      The Reading Light is ideal for concentrated light on an surface of about 3 feet by 3 feet, so it works great for large books, newspapers, etc. that need to be opened or spread out onto a table top. This light also can sit/rest on the table surface or clip to the edge of a table, post, rail, etc.

      The Camping Lantern is a great option for multiple spots around the lantern, but also serves to illuminate more than a flat surface. The Lantern has a collapsable hook feature built into the top, so it can hang from the top of a tent ceiling or other overhead hook.

      These can both be found on http://www.yoursolarlink.com under the Solar Products category (or in the links above in this post). Both come with new rechargeable batteries (installed), so you shouldn’t need to replace the batteries for a couple of years.

      Hopefully this helps with your inquiry and that you are able to get your indoor/outdoor lights soon.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  19. Lorraine Lorraine says:

    Should I leave my solar lights switched on during the day or turn them off?

    • Hello Lorraine,

      You will want to keep your lights in the “on” position during the day. One reason you may want to turn them “off” is if you are perhaps going to use them for an event or party where you want to be sure that they have enough energy to illuminate the LEDs for the event. Otherwise, solar lights on the market are intended to always be in the “on” position and the sun will do the rest. :)

      Thank you for your inquiry/question with us at Your Solar Link.

      Cheers,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  20. X-NYr X-NYr says:

    Just want to say THANK YOU! This is the best written website I have ever encountered. I can’t believe I found a place that has exactly the Q and A that I needed on a topic as obscure (I thought) as why my solar lights stopped working and how do they work and whether the batteries need to be re-charged or replaced. Congrats to the team that not only knows the subject area but also knows the problems real non-experts encounter and can write clearly to describe the answer completely. BRAVO. I don’t know who you all are, but I commend the writers, engineers, editors involved in the site.

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They are designed to mark a place.


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Solar spot lights like this one rely on energy from the sun to charge their batteries and provide light throughout the night.
This means that there is no need to tap into the electrical grid for these lights to operate.
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Learn more about Solar Spot Lights at http://www.yoursolarlink.com/solar-spot-lights, where we have a great selection of solar spot lights to choose from.

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