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Steps to take with rechargeable batteries and your solar garden lights.

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: 54 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. Sue S. Sue S. says:

    I have just a few of the very inexpensive accent lights that have begun to not ‘light up’ at night.

    My solar lights came with NiCd batteries, can I replace them with NiMh batteries? In other words, is the ‘charger’ capable of charging both types of batteries, NiCd AND NiMh or are the specific to one another?

    Also, can I use ’standard’ rechargeable batteries or must I use ’solar’ rechargeable batteries?

    Thank you very much,
    Sue S.

  2. That is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!

  3. Karen Karen says:

    Thanks for the helpful and informative article. Just to clarify, are there rechargeable specialty batteries that I need to purchase just for solar lights? I bought a pack of rechargeable NiMH Duracell batteries, fully charged them, and placed them in my solar string lights. No luck with anything lighting up. The solar panel gets full sun.

  4. Anne Finegan Anne Finegan says:

    Even though I have replaced my solar lights with rechargeable solar batteries, they only light up for 24 hours. The reason is they stay lighting during the day as well as night time. What am I doing wrong ?

  5. Anne Finegan Anne Finegan says:

    Even though I have replaced my solar lights (several times) with rechargeable solar batteries, they only last for 24 hours. The reason being, the lights stay lighting during the day as well as night time. What am I doing wrong ?

    • In regard to the batteries only lasting for a day, even when rechargeable batteries are used, you may have a defective solar light. You did the right thing by changing the rechargeable batteries, so you are not doing anything wrong there.

      One thing to check is the type of rechargeable batteries that you are using as replacements. Be sure that if your original batteries were NiCd or NiMH (Nickel Cadmium or Nickel Metal Hydride, respectively) that you are replacing with these specifications. Some solar lights use LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate, or Lithium Ion, more commonly). Do not use the Lithium batteries in lights that require NiCd or NiMH. Lithium batteries are more powerful (Voltage) and will fry the components (specifically the LED) in your solar lights in a matter of seconds. We tested this and there is no turning back once the damage is done, other than to replace the LED, which can be complicated and impractical in most cases.

      Another problem with the lights staying on for 24 hours and not recharging may be that the specified duration of the replacement batteries may not be same as your original batteries. You will see this as a measure of mAh (milliAmp hours). This just means that the charged battery will put out energy for a longer duration, with higher mAh ratings lasting longer for a given solar light’s requirements. But this doesn’t sound like a potential culprit to your situation.

      A third problem may be that something internally is wrong with the solar light and it is frying the batteries, regardless of whether or not the correct batteries are being used. In this case, you may want to return the solar light or discard it if your warranty period has expired.

      Once again, thank you for your questions. We hope to have been of some assistance with the solar light. Let us know if you have any further questions, we do our best to help.

      Regards,

      Your Solar Link Team.

  6. Anne F Anne F says:

    Why do my solar lights stay on day and night, solar batteries used.

    • Hello,

      The photoresistor may be functioning improperly. It (photoreceptor) could also be damaged or obstructed with debris/dirt, which will hinder its purpose of turning the light (LED) off during the day. Once in a blue moon the photoresistor in solar garden lights will “think” it is dark all the time, hence the LEDs are always on. This could be just that the part is bad or that it is not connected to the internal circuitry. The only thing this will do is decrease the life of the rechargeable batteries, so you will need to replace them (probably) once a year.

      Sorry to hear that the light is having this issue, but it should not affect the overall functioning of your solar lights. Hope this information helps with your situation.

      Respectfully,
      Your Solar Link Team

    • Hello,

      The photoresistor may be functioning improperly. It (photoreceptor) could also be damaged or obstructed with debris/dirt, which will hinder its purpose of turning the light (LED) off during the day. Once in a blue moon the photoresistor in solar garden lights will “think” it is dark all the time, hence the LEDs are always on. This could be just that the part is bad or that it is not connected to the internal circuitry. The only thing this will do is decrease the life of the rechargeable batteries, so you will need to replace them (probably) once a year.

      Sorry to hear that the light is having this issue, but it should not affect the overall functioning of your solar lights. Hope this information helps with your situation.

      Respectfully,
      Your Solar Link Team

  7. Seth Johnson Seth Johnson says:

    Very good blog, thank you so much for your time in writing the posts.

  8. don asher don asher says:

    is there a special charger for any of these batteries

    • You may be able to charge the batteries in a plug-in device. However, the batteries that are in solar garden lights are meant to stay in the light. The solar panel on the fixture delivers the energy necessary for the batteries to be charged during the day so that they may light up the LED(s) at night. It is recommended to leave the rechargeable batteries in the solar light they are intended for. We hope this helps with your inquiry.

      Regards,
      Your Solar Link Team

  9. Elvis Elvis says:

    Do I keep the switch on “off” only during the first couple of days after I put in a new battery? Is it better to switch the light to “off” every day?

    Could you please explain the “off” and “auto” positions as far as the battery charging up each day?

    • Hello,

      The switch you are referring to sounds like it may need to be in the “auto” position. Depending on the light you have, you may just want to leave it in the “auto” position all the time. Once the light is in use, you don’t need to turn it off every day. That is the function of the photoresistor that is built in to solar lights (larger products have a different system, but for the sake of consumer products, a photoresistor is used). Sometimes a light may stay on during the day as well as the night. This means that there is a problem with either the circuitry and/or the photoresistor. If this happens, the battery life will be cut in half (as it is running during both the day and night) and will need to be replaced more often (probably every year instead of every two years, as would be the case for a properly functioning light).

      Hope this helps with your questions and best of luck with your solar lighting project.

      Regards,

      Mario
      Your Solar Link Team

  10. Trish Trish says:

    Are there any solar outdoor lights that don’t require a battery? I want to put the panel on the roof and don’t want to gave to retrieve it to recharge batteries.

    • Hello Trish,

      Yes, there are some lights that have a lead (pronounced “leed”) wire that separates the panel from the battery unity/light. The Solar Security Light and the Garage Sensor Light are two that can are capable of mounting the solar panel away from the “operating” unit. But, depending on if the light is to be used over an entry door and your building is two-storeys or more, then the lead wire may not be long enough (it can be extended, but that will require a little wire splicing) for these lights.

      As far as lights not requiring batteries, there are none on the market that we are aware of. The process of solar lights is that sunlight is collected via a solar panel. This sunlight is converted into electricity which is stored in rechargeable batteries. Once the sun is set, a photoresistor built into a solar light unit recognizes that it is dark and automatically turns the LED (light) on, using the energy from the battery to power the LED. During the night, this energy will be used up (the batteries only hold a certain amount of energy, depending on the system) and the whole process repeats in the morning. This is all with the current technology that is available to us as consumers. It may change in time as new methods are developed and newer technologies become affordable.

      Hope this answers your question and best of luck with your solar lighting project! :)

      Regards,

      Mario Villalobos
      Your Solar Link Team

  11. Julie Julie says:

    The solar cell on top of the lights have degraded so much that they no longer work. Can the cells be replaced? And where do I get the cells?

    • Hello Julie,

      Sorry to hear that the solar panel has weathered for the worse. This will happen with some solar lights that use a plastic covering over the panel (as opposed to glass), rendering the panel inefficient and not able to convert sunlight into electricity as it should. (I am assuming the covering is of the plastic variety).

      In response to your inquiry, yes, the cells can be replaced. However, this would be a job for someone who has some circuitry experience and the tools to make it happen. I have seen individual solar panels (small enough to fit a solar garden light) at Fry’s Electronics (if you have one of those types of stores in your area). You would need to get the specifications of the output of your existing solar cells and match it to one that is sold at Fry’s, etc. I checked their website and don’t see it listed, but I have seen them there.

      So, it can be done. It will just need some searching for the part and the time/patience of replacing the solar panel. Depending on the light (quality, brand, age, price, etc.), an alternative solution may be to replace the entire light with a new one. If the light is older and has deteriorated, there may also be problems with the internal workings (circuitry, wiring, photoresistor, etc.) that you may want to replace it entirely.

      If you do end up discarding the light, it can be recycled (the whole thing, you don’t need to take it apart). We refer people to the following for recycling: Merciel Materials, LLC, 106 Cedar Lane Drive, Lexington, NC 27292. Lights can be mailed to them and they will recycle the components accordingly.

      Hope this information helps. We would like to keep people in the loop of sustainability and environmental awareness as much as possible. Thank you for your inquiry and best of luck with your project. :)

      Regards,

      Mario Villalobos
      Your Solar Link Team

      • Randy Randy says:

        Try clear enamel fingernail polish on the panel after cleaning it. This will aid in removing the white film from cracks scratches and being weathered.

      • christie christie says:

        Trick-use clear nail polish over the old plastic. Britens up old dull plastic that won’t collect sun and allows sun to recharge your light again!!

        • Christie,

          That sounds like a good idea. We haven’t tried this method yet. How does the nail polish hold up under the test of time (sun, weather, etc.)? You may have come up with a very effective fix for those lights whose panels are weathered. :)

          Thanks for the tip.

          Mario

  12. Donovan Donovan says:

    Hi solar light expert,

    I just bought my set of solar lights and been using them for about three months now. Its the type with 8 lights and one solar panel. I’ve been noticing that they are really dull recently. They still light up but is very dull compared to how used to light up when new. Its only been a few months since i bought them. Could it be the battery ?

    Thankyou in advance!

    • Hello Donovan,

      It could be that (as you mentioned) the batteries are no longer working at their full capacity. Sometimes when a light is purchased, a span of time has passed since the battery was initially charged, what with time on the shelf at the store, shipping, etc. Typically batteries are pre-charged in store/on-line bought solar lights. The type of battery used also will have an effect on this lag time between charge and use.

      If your light uses Ni-Cd (Nickel Cadmium) batteries, they will acquire a “memory” for their storage capacity and overall life. These are the least expensive rechargeable batteries on the market for solar lights. By memory, we mean that if the battery is charged to half its capacity by a short charging cycle (cloud cover, half-day’s charge, etc.), then the battery will “think” that this is the peak capacity it can carry and will use that as an optimum the next time it charges, even if the solar light is in a full-day’s sun in following days.

      If your light uses Ni-MH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries, they will not be affected by the “memory” problem as with their Ni-Cd cousins. These will charge to their full capacity when the sun is in their favor. On cloudy days, they will charge to partial capacity. But once Helios rolls through the sky again, they peak at their expected charge capacity. These batteries are a bit more expensive (albeit, not a lot compared to others out there), but are a better alternative that can be used in Ni-Cd accepting solar lights. Note: Do not mix the batteries together (if the solar light uses 2 or more), use either all Ni-Cd or all Ni-MH in your solar lights.

      A third alternative are the Lithium Ion batteries. These are the batteries in the brick house (think of the Three Little Pigs) for small-scale solar lights used around homes and gardens. These put out a higher voltage and typically produce a brighter light. But, and this an important point, they are not to be used in solar lights that require Ni-Cd/Ni-MH batteries. Lithium batteries will fry your Ni-Cd/Ni-MH solar light LEDs in a matter of seconds! We’ve tested this and there is no turning back once the damage is done. Well, there is a fix, but you will need some knowhow to change the circuitry/LEDs as well as the parts. It’s not worth the risk, so be sure you replace your batteries with proper specifications.

      A fourth battery on the market is the Lead Acid battery. These are not your typical garden solar light battery and are another ball of wax, but generally produce the brightest light with regard to garden and landscape solar lights. They have the highest Voltage output and store more energy, therefore are the most expensive in the family to replace.

      That all being said (there actually could be more, but we’ll suffice with the above), another problem with the low/quick output of light from your solar lights could be that the solar panel is either obstructed with dirt/dust or that it is partially covered in shade during the day when it should be getting full sun (they will typically need at least 6 hours of full sun to give a good return at night). The final problem could be the quality of the components (circuitry) of the solar lights. A better engineered product will usually last longer (years) than an inexpensive product. Some solar lights on the market are very inexpensive, but with that comes low light output, low battery life and eventual breakdown of the system.

      We hope this helps with your question. Best of luck with your solar lights. Let us know if you have any more questions with your set. We are here to help and inform.

      Thank you,

      Mario Villalobos
      Your Solar Link Team

  13. Richard Faarnbach Richard Faarnbach says:

    Have 2 solar bedside lights – one works fine the other switches on but then goes out. Switch on – switches off. what could cause this. The lighs are the ones from Barefoot Solar Lights provided to African kids but the person I bought from is not connected with business anymore.

    • Hello Richard,

      There are a few things that may be going on with your lights.

      First, if you are switching the light to the “on” position and it is going off (assuming it is on momentarily), then the batteries may not be charging properly. In this case, there are a couple of issues that may be affecting the performance. The wiring may be disrupted, thus the batteries may not be charging to their full capacity during the day, so what you see when switched on is a “ghost” flash of any residual left in the battery. Another battery culprit could be that it is “on” during the day, effectively using up the charge that should be stored for the evening hours/use. This may be the result of a faulty photoresistor, where the light “thinks” it is dark during the day, rendering it as a non-functioning photoresistor.

      Second, the switch for the “on/off” positions may not be making a full connection. This may be tested by wiggling the switch in the dark to see if the light stays on in the dark. Sometimes the circuitry gets worn out with time and use, especially if the switch is manually activated every night.

      Third, the batteries may have expired. Typically rechargeable batteries in smaller solar lights are good for about 2 years of continued/daily use. If you replaced the batteries and tested various batteries with the same result, the problem may be with issues 1 or 2 above.

      We are not affiliated with Barefoot Solar Lights, and so are not able to exactly pinpoint what the issue may be with their line of lights. But, if you are looking for replacement lights, please visit our website at http://www.yoursolarlink.com. We can ship to countries in Africa if you are interested in our line. We also test our lights regularly for QC and remove any that may be problematic from our store, thus giving customers the best lights on the market at affordable prices.

      We hope to have been of some help with your inquiry and wish you the best of luck with your lighting issues.

      Cheers from California!

      Mario
      Your Solar Link

  14. Sksingh Sksingh says:

    My solar lights are working ok for the last three years, however one of them I noticed lights up during day and switches off in dark!
    Can I repair it ( or the local electrician), if yes how?

    • Hello,

      We have seen this in the past with some lights. It may be a matter of the life-expectancy for particular lights (think of the expression, “you get what you pay for”. Meaning, a more expensive light will generally outlast a less expensive one; due to materials used and the craftsmanship that was put in to the design and construction of the light.) With the issue of lighting up during the day and going off at night, this sounds like an issue with the photoresistor. It may not be “switching” as it is intended to, thus simultaneously using up the battery charge during the day (to keep the lights “on” when it should kick in at sunset).

      Another issue may be that the photoresistor is being bypassed altogether. This would mean that electricity is going directly from the solar panel, through the batteries and ultimately to the LEDs. This would be fine and dandy if we were lighting up interior lights during the day, but the whole point of solar garden lights is to light up our exterior spaces at night. Those photoresistors can be really pesky….

      As far as repairing, it may be more trouble than it is worth. Solar garden lights are typically not very expensive and are intended to be untampered with. By tampering we mean that they should not need to be fixed. If they do (for situations like these), it may be best to replace them, if that is an option for you. There are stores and websites that sell components of solar garden lights (here, probably you would need the photoresistor). You may try this option if the light is salvageable and you would like to give it a go with fixing it, but it will take some knowhow and above all, patience (the parts are small and not generally easy to work with). However, photoresistors are not always the problem, so it could be something else in the circuitry that is causing the issue you described. But more than likely, it looks to be the photoresistor.

      We hope that this helps with your lighting matter and that it works out for you.

      Cheers,

      Mario

      • SKSingh SKSingh says:

        Thanks for your information it helps to know these things. Just for the sake of trying (the lights are any way bad!) I will check if reversing the photo resister connection works? I will simply cross patch these and see.
        Thanks .

        • SK Singh,

          You are welcome. We are always learning new things and are happy to be of assistance. We have noticed that many comments/concerns are along the lines of faulty photoresistors. We’re not sure if what is coming out of the manufacturer’s warehouses is bad technology or if they are using a system of fabrication that produces less-than-adequate photoresistors.

          Thank you for your reply and best of luck with the cross patch.

          Regards,

          Mario @ Your Solar Link

  15. ingrid ingrid says:

    Could you add one more thing to the Info section –
    How to fully charge up your batteries when you buy a new light.
    I was told to put it out in the sun for a day, remove the battery at night. Put the batteries back in the morning and charge up again.
    This is to fully charge up the battery so it works properly.

    So therefore you need to own a screwdriver, and an alarm clock to take the lights in and out!

    • Hello Ingrid,

      You make a valid point. We had not included that procedure as it is atypical for most garden solar lights sold here in the US (and what we assume the rest of the globe). Generally, solar garden lights sold at stores and online are “ready to go” when you get them. Meaning that the batteries are usually pre-charged so that you can put your lights in place without any “conditioning” of the battery(ies) already installed in the light. Some lights have a little piece of paper that needs to be removed when you buy them from stores. This is just to preserve the charge that is already in the battery while it is sitting on the shelf (for however long the store takes to sell it) and can be used immediately when you get home and put it in your garden/landscape.

      As far as the procedure you described, there are some lights that do need to these steps of preparation in order to initially charge the battery. These are the Lead-Acid variety and are used to store enough energy for the brighter lights out there (Lithium batteries hold a good charge, but they generally don’t need the conditioning procedure. At least, we’ve never heard of them needing it.) Some of the lights at http://www.yoursolarlink.com use the Lead-Acid type and will generate the brightest light for the price on the market. But when using these types of lights, it is very important to follow the instructions included with the light to ensure that the battery gets the proper initial charge, as this will determine the performance thereafter.

      In reference to your steps above (charge during the day, take batteries out at night, put them back in next day), you may just need to turn the switch to the “off” position instead of taking the batteries out (usually there are switches to make it easier for users to turn their lights off and preserve battery energy storage). If your particular light does not have a switch, then yes, you would need to take them out. But charging them for a full day should be enough to give them the “memory” (this is typical for NiCd batteries) they need for the remainder of the battery life (about 2 years of continued use). Two days of pre-charging for NiCd/NiMH/Lithium Ion batteries isn’t common practice for solar garden lights here in the USA. Your lights should be ready to go right out of the box.

      We hope this helps with your inquiry and suggestion. If your particular light indicated to take the steps you listed, then it would be best to follow them as directed. Otherwise, you should be good to go with your new lights.

      Cheers,

      Mario

  16. peter peter says:

    I have 2 sets of solar LED string lits from Lowes, one stopped working except for 5 bulbs next immediately following the solar chnarger. I immediately checked batteries, one was low compared to the other 2 (1.2V ea) NiHi so I placed 3 regular 1.5v betteries in to chk any difference. no difference, I then replace the solar batteries and fussed with the batteries, by moving them while in contact, all of a sudden all lites lite up, they stayed on all seemed well, I then screwed the plastic solar panel together and when I was finishing with final screw all but 5 lites were lite and no matter what I have tried theremaining bulbs (I think there are 100 on the set) are out. One would think there is a cut in the wire etc, I find none. I then took a probes from my multi meter and penetrated the wire insulation on the pos. and neg wires and after the last lkite buld I find no current, but there is current up thru the lite bulbs. Any ideas?
    I am scratchig my head as to why they worked and now 95% of the string lamps won’t light.
    any ideas I will appreciate it.
    Peter

    • Hello Peter,

      It sounds like the batteries and terminals are functioning properly (as you tested with non-rechargeables and had no change in the performance of your string lights; thus eliminating batteries/terminal as a culprit). Being that you tested the current with a multimeter, then it may be that LED #6 could be the culprit. If you tested the last LED (#100) with a multimeter and found no charge, then it could be that there is no electricity running through LEDs #6 to #100.

      If you are mechanically/electrically inclined, you may want to cut the wire after LED #4 and splice it back to, say, just before LED #7 (effectively bypassing anything happening around 5-6 and before 7, as this could be where the break is located). This is only a suggestion and is not to be taken as the only fix to your situation.

      But the most probable fix to this situation may be to return the lights to Lowe’s and exchange them for a comparable (or the same, if they have them) product. This is all assuming they will accept the exchange, but that is entirely up to the store and their policies.

      Hopefully this helps with your string light dilemma. We have not seen this in our testing nor have we heard of it from any past customers/commenters. It may be one of those rare situations that can be remedied with some splicing out breaks in the string. Best of luck with your project!

      Cheers,

      Mario

  17. Laurie Laurie says:

    what happens when you use a 3.2v battery in a 1.2v device?

    • Hello Laurie,

      If you use a higher Voltage battery in a lower-rated device, the circuitry and components will be overloaded and could permanently damage the device. We tested this with a solar light that used 1.2 Volt batteries. When we put in a 3.2 Volt Lithium ion battery in the light, the LED illuminated to an intensity higher than normal, but quickly (a matter of seconds) burned out. Essentially, the LED was overloaded with charge and it was destroyed by the higher Voltage that went through it. There are a number of components that could be affected by the higher Voltage battery, but the one that was noticeably damaged was the LED.

      We recommend that you do not put a 3.2 Volt battery in your 1.2 Volt device. It will render it useless and permanently damaged.

      Hopefully this helps with your inquiry/question. We are happy to help!

      Regards,

      Mario Villalobos
      Your Solar Link

  18. Lowell Gwin Lowell Gwin says:

    I use the stuff that you use to clean weathered headlight plastic to clean my solar lights

    • Hello Lowell,

      We are always learning more every day and your comment is tops. We have heard of several methods (toothpaste, vinegar, etc.) to clean solar panels and the plastic housing for light fixtures. Your solution works very well. We tried it on some of our older lights and they cleaned up quite nicely.

      Thank you for the tip!

      Cheers,

      Mario

  19. Sylvia Sylvia says:

    Hi…I switched my new lights off to charge the battery then went away for a couple of weeks now they dont light up at all….Have I fried the batteries..??

    • Sylvia,

      It is not clear why the lights won’t illuminate at night. It could very well be that the batteries were overloaded for two weeks and we not able to drain as designed. Switching the on/off switch that is designed into lights breaks the circuit between the batteries and the LED. So, if energy was put into the batteries every day for two weeks, they could have been damaged by the overcharging. This is probably the only component in the light that would be affected, so a quick replacement of the batteries should do the trick.

      Best of luck with your lights. If you need batteries, please visit http://www.yoursolarlink.com for some of the cheapest prices online (or even in stores).

      Cheers,

      Mario

  20. D.Stone D.Stone says:

    Hello,
    I have pencil style solar light. I have taken it apart as it has stopped working. But inside the round ‘head’there is are two screws, an on off switch. Having removed this I find a small little processor board, but no space for a battery. What is going on? If it works without a battery, why has it stopped now?

    • D,

      We haven’t heard of any light not using a battery. For a solar light to work during the night, it will need to store the energy collected during the day. The only thing that we can think of on the market that stores “light” during the day are products which use phosphorescent materials (think glow-in-the dark products like glow-sticks, etc.) But this is not going to give off light in the way that LEDs do. As for your pencil-style solar light, it could be that the rechargeable battery is not the traditional size or style. Some products use button batteries (like in a watch). Being that your light is small, it may be that the battery is not so obvious and it may actually be incorporated into some other part of the light.

      Hopefully this helps with your question. Best of luck with your light!

      Mario

  21. M.R. Malacca M.R. Malacca says:

    I bought several solar garden lights , but I plan to store them for a while. I took off the batteries & stored them fully charged. Should I have them fully discharged before I store them? Many thanks

    • Hello M.R. Malacca,

      You may want to leave them fully-charged out of the device (light). This way the charge will slowly drain and may even have some storage left when you eventually install them. When you get to that point, it may be best to install them at night and turn the light “on” so as to drain/use any residual storage before a full-day’s charge. This way you can avoid any “memory” problems that NiCd (assuming that’s what you have) batteries experience.

      Best of luck with your lights and we hope this information helps.

      Cheers,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  22. susan susan says:

    Can I replace the 1.2V ni-mh 600mah rechargeable battery in my solar lights with a 900mah battery? I am having trouble locating the 600.

    • Hello Susan,

      Yes, you can use a higher rated mAh battery in your solar lights. Just be sure that you stay with the property chemistry (i.e.: if your existing battery is a NiCd, you can replace it with either another NiCd or even a NiMH. Just don’t use Lithium, they are more powerful and will fry out your lights). If you are looking for replacements, http://www.yoursolarlink.com has some of the lowest (if not _the_ lowest) priced batteries on the market.

      Best of luck with your batteries and we hope this information helps.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  23. Amanda Amanda says:

    Hi,
    we have just brought some new solar lights and from memory on the old instructions i had always thought that they need to charge for the 1st couple of days in the “off” position for them to fully charge, but these ones say “to charge leave in the on/auto position” does this sound right?
    thanks.

    • Hello Amanda,

      It would depend on the particular set of lights that you have. If they came with instructions indicating that a 2-day “off” charge was needed, then it may be best to follow this protocol.

      However, most solar garden lights on the market use batteries that are pre-charged and do not need the 2-day step, so they are ready to go out-of-the box (just put the new batteries in your lights and leave it in the “on” position.) From what we know, the only solar lights that need a memory charging are those that use lead acid batteries (some of the security and spot lights on our website use these) and they come with very specific instructions on charging procedures. If your solar garden lights use batteries that are either NiCd, NiMH or Lithium, then chances are that they do not need to be pre-charged before turning them into the “on” position.

      Hopefully this helps with your inquiry/question.

      Thank you,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  24. My solar lights stay on all day My solar lights stay on all day says:

    And go off at night?? I don’t get it, I have the same 2 sets of 3 lights with 1 panel for each, one set works perfectly the other is confused with night and day.

    • Hello,

      Yes, we have been receiving numerous comments regarding the malfunctioning of solar lights with similar symptoms. From what we can gather, it is an issue with faulty photoresistors. Typically this component is built into the solar panel. So replacing a malfunctioning photoresistor would require the replacement of the solar panel. And this can be a tricky feat of electrical knowhow and patience. If you notice that the LEDs are “on” during the day (for the faulty lights), then it is probably the photoresistor.

      Sorry to hear that your lights are not working properly. We hope our information above helps with your light and decision on what to do with them.

      Regards,

      Your Solar Link Team

  25. Brian Brian says:

    Hi.
    I’m in the UK. My solar lights stopped working and I figured that they needed a good charge so I turned them off and allowed a few days charge. When I switched on they lasted for a short while but went off after an hour or so; now they only come on for about a second and go off again. The battery is AA but 3.2v and li lion. I inserted a normal AA battery to see if it would work but didn’t even come on. When I put the old 3.2 back in, it did the same 1 second and gone. do you know a manufacturer of 3,2v AA rechargeable batteries and do you think that the battery is the problem – it is all about 2 years old.
    Best regards
    Brian

    • Hello Brian,

      From your comment/inquiry, it sounds like your Lithium ion batteries have reached the end of the “life” cycle and need to be replaced. When you put in the other AA battery, they may have been the more common NiCd or NiMH battery that is found in many solar garden lights. These batteries are typically rated at 1.2 Volts. Therefore, it is likely the test batteries didn’t have enough power to illuminate the LED in your light. As for the light only turning “on” for a second with the Lithium battery, then the LED is probably using a residual charge that is left in the battery. Eventually it will not go on for even that last second. 2 years is the expected life of most AA and AAA batteries for solar garden lights, so it sounds like you may have reached that mark with your lights.

      There are replacements for Lithium ion batteries on the market. We do have them on in packs of 10 our website/store, but it may be more cost-effective for you to find a supplier closer to you (we are in San Diego, California, USA) so that you could save money on shipping. But, if you would like to purchase with us, send an email to us at info@yoursolarlink.com with the specifics and we will put together the best package available for you.

      Hopefully this helps with your battery issue and we appreciate your inquiry with us.

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

  26. MaryAnn MaryAnn says:

    Thanks. This article was VERY helpful. I wasn’t sure what the battery situation was with my solar glass ball lights but LOVE Them and want to keep them rather than add them to the landfill which too many people do. Thanks again for the fix. I’ll put it to use tonight!!

    • Hello MaryAnn,

      We are pleased to hear that you were able to troubleshoot the battery issue with your solar glass ball lights. Almost all solar lights on the market are designed to have the batteries replaced at the end of their typical 2 year life cycle. It is just a matter of opening the proper compartment on the light to get to the batteries (we have found that some are easier to access than others). :)

      Thanks for your comment and we hope that your solar glass lights are working again!

      Regards,

      Mario @ Your Solar Link

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