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Solar Lights Not Working: Alternatives & Fixes When Solar Lights Are Not Working

Have you installed a solar panel and do not know what to do when solar lights stop working? Solar lights are sometimes referred to as solar lamps or solar lanterns. It is a lighting system made of LED bulbs, batteries, solar panels, and a charge controller. Sometimes you will also need an inverter. 

Most solar lights operate using electricity derived from solar energy using photovoltaic panels, which convert solar energy from the sun into electric energy. Solar lights are the perfect replacement for other light sources like kerosene lamps and candles.

These solar lights are eco-friendly and do not pollute the environment in any way. They are affordable and only use sunlight, which is free and will save you a lot regarding electricity bills. 

However, not every time do they function correctly. Sometimes they fail to operate. If you are using solar lights and they one day stop functioning, it should not stress you as that is a normal phenomenon.

This article will show you a few things that you can do as back up when your solar lights stop functioning. You will also learn how solar lights work and what makes them not to operate.

How Do Solar Lights Work?

How Do Solar Lights Work?
How Do Solar Lights Work?

Solar lights are different from their sources of lights like candles and kerosene lamps. They work and operate differently and uniquely. Solar lights work with the photovoltaic effect, which happens in the solar panel.

Solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells, are essential when it comes to solar lights. 

They are responsible for converting sunlight into direct electricity. Solar cells appear to inform the dark panel, and they are often found at the top of solar lights. Photovoltaic cells are made of multiple layers of silicon crystalline and chemicals.

The various layers are responsible for generating positive charge and creating a layer of negative charge electrons simultaneously. 

When the solar panel receives direct sunlight, the sunlight excites the negative charge electrons, which is later moved into the positive charge space. After that, the electrons in the positive charge space move through a wire in the photovoltaic to the battery where the electricity is kept for later use. 

During the day, the solar batteries charge using direct sunlight, and once they are fully charged, they will store enough solar energy to be used at a later stage. When there is no sunlight, the stored solar energy in the batteries is converted into light.

The lights on the solar cells will automatically turn on when the photoreceptors detect darkness. The photoreceptors will stop functioning once they detect daylight, and the solar cells will resume converting sunlight into electricity.

Solar Lights to Stop Working? Understand it correctly before fixing?

Solar Lights Not Working
Solar Lights Not Working

If you have been using solar light or are just intending to start using them, you will notice that sometimes it does not work or stop working after some time.

This is a relatively common thing when it comes to solar lights, and someone just new to the solar world will think differently. Here are just some of the reasons that can make your solar light to stop functioning.

Inadequate Sunlight

If you have a solar light, you know that they require sunlight for them to function correctly. If there is no sufficient sunlight, they will stop functioning.

They use solar panels, which are always placed under direct sunlight for better performance. So, when there is inadequate sunlight, you will only enjoy slight electricity from the solar cell. 

That means you will need to place the solar panel in an area where it will get adequate sunlight. Always place your solar lights under direct sunlight for five hours maximum for better results in the evening when sunlight is not available.

Once the solar lights are fully charged during the day when there is sufficient sunlight, they will operate for long periods at night.

Dirty Solar Panels

Another reason why your solar lights can stop functioning is when you have a dirty panel. Unclean solar panels will not allow proper penetration of sunlight, which means less power or sometimes no power at all.

Solar panels installed outdoors are generally exposed to dirt and debris most of the time—that event causes a reduced solar light. Once you have decided to go solar, you should always check on your solar panels frequently to make sure they are not exposed to dirt.

Solar panels are made with glass, which is easy to clean. You can always get a wet cloth and clean off the panels’ dirt and make them look clean again. 

Ensure that if you stay in an area where there are gusty winds, always make it a routine to clean your solar panels for better performance regularly. Make sure you clean your panels every day if your situation is complicated and twice every week. 

New to solar energy? Do you want to know how solar energy works? Read our Solar 101 to learn more about solar energy.

If you plan to go for a trip and you will not be around for long, make sure your solar panel is kept in a safe place or cover it with canvas cloth to prevent it from getting dirty.

By doing so, you will ensure that your solar panel lasts longer and will ensure better solar lighting. Your solar panels will also last for long periods.

Dirt is one of the major problems that cause solar lights to stop working, so always ensure your panels are clean all the time. For better efficiency, make sure your panels are always clean.

Ineffective Sensor

All solar panels are manufactured with a sensor, and once your solar sensor starts functioning or is faulty, your solar lights will immediately stop working. Solar panel sensors always react to darkness, and they can detect the surrounding.

The sensor is the one that allows your batteries to start charging the moment your solar panel unit detects darkness. 

Most solar lights that we use today always come with a small sensor that can detect darkness. When the solar lights sensor is not functioning correctly, it will cause the solar lights to stop functioning. That means that the sensor cannot differentiate between day and night as it will only see the light. 

If you want to know if your sensor is working or not, cover it with your hand or a piece of cloth, and if it brings the light on, that means it is functioning well.

But if you do not see the light, that means it is faulty, and you need to replace your battery. Always check on your solar light sensor regularly to avoid future problems with your solar lights.

Uncharged Battery

Another main reason for your solar light to stop functioning is having an uncharged battery. A battery that is not fully charged will, in the long run, stop your solar lights from functioning.

It is good to check your batteries all the time and make sure they are fully charged. If you have solar batteries, make sure that there is sufficient sunlight to make sure they are exposed to sunlight to recharge. 

A faulty battery will not charge even when there is sunlight, so make sure that the battery is functioning, and after that, make sure it is fully charged. If you have just bought a new battery, always ensure it is fully charged before you start using it.

Make sure that the solar panels responsible for charging the battery are correctly positioned and are not being blocked by anything that will prevent them from getting direct sunlight. 

Make sure that your batteries are charged for 24 hours before you start using them. Every time you recharge your battery, make sure that the solar light is switched off to enable the battery to charge appropriately.

If you notice that you have charged your battery and your solar lights are still not working, it will be to contact your vendor to come and check it for you. They are well informed and will be able to detect even the slightest of problems.

Unused Buttons

All solar lights come with one or several buttons that are used to operate the lights. Once your solar lights have just been installed, always ensure that it has all the necessary buttons and function properly.

Solar light buttons are meant to help you function your solar light with ease. For instance, solar lights often come with a pull button with the lights when you have just bought them. 

You should always remove that button for the solar light to function correctly. Before you turn the solar light on, make sure the button is removed. Many solar users who are new to solar always forget to remove the button, preventing the solar light from functioning.

If you are a beginner, always use the user manual that comes with the solar light, and you will find instructions on how to set up your solar lights. 

If you still do not manage, you can consult with your vendor, and they will help you out. Therefore, you should always check the pull button if your solar light is just new and make sure it is not unused or else it will stop your solar light from functioning. You should also know the use of the other buttons that come with your solar lights to know what to do if the lights are not functioning.

What to Do When Your Solar Lights Stops Working

Cover the Panel

All solar lights come with a light sensor, and the sensor will only function when it detects darkness. Sensors that come with the solar light will only stop converting sunlight to electricity and start charging your device when it senses darkness.

One trick that you can use to make your solar lights function is to trick the sensor that night has arrived by covering the solar panel with your hand or black cloth. 

Solar lights directly get their electricity during the day from the sun, and they do not work during the day. The solar energy that it derives during the day is the one that is used to charge your device at night.

That means that when you cover your solar panels with a cloth or something dark, your solar lights will stop functioning if there is no other light source reaching the panels.

Another way is to tweak where the solar panel is fixed and help solve the situation and allow your solar lights to function properly as it used to before.

Adjust the Batteries

Every solar light comes with its batteries which should be taken care of. Proper maintenance of your solar batteries will ensure that you do not lose light. Most solar batteries’ manufacturers ensure that their solar batteries can last for up to two years, and most of them are rechargeable. However, other batteries do not last even for one year. 

If you do not take proper care of your batteries, they will become faulty quickly, and that will mean your solar lights will stop functioning too. Always check your battery and make sure it is up to date.

The solar energy that the panels capture during the day is usually stored in the rechargeable battery for use at night when the sun is not thee. That is why batteries are turned off during the day, and at night they are highly active. 

When you notice that your solar lights are not functioning up to par, that might mean that the problem is with the battery. Your battery might not be charging as expected, and you need to adjust them or get a replacement.

If you are new to solar, this might be a big problem, and you will need to get advice from somebody with experience. So always ensure that you properly check your solar batteries before you switch on your solar lights. 

After making a few adjustments and your solar lights are still not functioning, that means you will need to replace them with a new one. But if you have just bought a new battery and it is still not working, it might be that you have not fully charged your battery.

Always make sure they are charged for about 24 hours before you start using them. That time is sufficient to recharge the battery fully. Ensure that the solar panels are not blocked by anything that can prevent it from receiving direct sunlight.

Leave No Room for Shadows

The best way to ensure that your solar lights work correctly for long periods is to make sure they are fully charged. If you stay in an area with extended sunlight hours, make sure that your solar lights are charged for as long as the sun is out.

That will mean that your solar light will still function using the solar energy stored in your battery even during cloudy days. 

Sometimes you might have your solar lights out for more than eight hours and still find out that it did not fully charge. That means that there is a problem somewhere, and that problem might be obstacles.

Buildings, trees, or any other barriers might block your solar lights from receiving direct sunlight. If your solar panels are blocked, your solar lights will not be fully charged, and that means they will stop functioning at one stage when you are using them. 

Before installing solar panels, you need to plan and know where you will situate your panels. Doing a bit of research before going solar is essential because it will stop future problems.

If you are installing solar lights for the first time, your installer will know where to install the panels so that it is not blocked with shadows from nearby obstacles. 

Always place your solar panels at an angle where they can get sunlight from morning till evening without any obstructions whatsoever. That will ensure 100% functionality from your solar lights.

If you leave your solar panel under the shadow, it will mean less sunlight absorption, hence no lights. A panel with adequate or no solar energy will provide your solar light with nothing.

Accurate Angle

Before you start on where to install your solar panels, you should know the sun’s movement to calculate where exactly you will place the solar panels. You need to get the exact accurate angle if you want to get better results from your solar lights. Pacing your panel at the right angle is one way to back up your solar light when it stops functioning. 

That is so because sunlight is not predictable today; it is shining tomorrow. It is not, so you need to know the angle where your solar panel can get the best of the sun, even the slightest of sun rays.

Sometimes the sun will be blocked by clouds or a rainy day, and it is hard to see the sun. It is always advisable to adjust your solar lights to a forty-five-degree angle. 

Are you planning to buy solar panels to power your house? Read our Solar Panel Buying Guide first before purchasing.

This angle is one of the most productive angles for sunlight absorption and will also enable your solar panels to enjoy more sunlight. If you want 100% absorption, always ensure your solar lights are placed at that angle and if at all you are shifting from one house to the other, stick to the forty-five-angle rule.

Adjusting your solar panels accordingly will enable accurate results and functionality of your solar lights.

Remember “South Facing”

Like satellite dishes, a solar panel will only function properly when facing the right direction. That means that you will only get the best results if you have your solar panel facing the west.

That is true because the sun goes up from the east and ends up on the west side. That means that when you place your solar panel facing the south, it will enjoy full sunlight from dawn till dusk.

If you are just new to solar, you might not know where exactly to place your solar panels, which is why you need an expert. 

When installing solar lights for the first time, make sure you get a skilled installer who has years when it comes to installation. They are always well informed on the best places to place the panels for better results.

Even though your solar lights will still function even if they are not facing the south, it will be useful to get advice from an informed or experienced personnel if you want your solar lights to function properly for years.

Water Intake

Most solar lights with good ratings are generally regarded as waterproof models. Still, most solar panels on the market today are generally prone to water and will get damaged easily.

Depending on the manufacturer, you might get an excellent waterproof solar light, but other companies might not adhere to the safety standard rules. 

So, if you have a solar panel that has absorbed water during one rainy night, you will need to place the solar panel under direct sunlight for more than five hours for the water to be fully drained.

Once it has thoroughly drained all the water, confirm if it is working; most of the time, they should be merely okay. After that, you will need to check your batteries. Water can damage your solar batteries, so always ensure that they are placed in cool and dry areas. 

If you find out that they have been damaged by water, it would be best to replace them with a new one as quickly as possible. The faulty or damaged battery will cause your solar lights not to function and always get advice from an expert on how to take care of your solar battery.

You might place the waterlogged batteries under direct sunlight for eight-plus hours and see if they will dry up and start functioning. If they start functioning, you will have your lights back on.

The Lux Sensor

Most solar lights come with sensors, and a sensor is responsible for detecting daylight and darkness for the proper functioning of your lights. A lux sensor is one of the best and it is expected to ignite the solar lights system at night.

You should always ensure that there are no other sources of light where you place your solar lights. Your solar lights can detect light even if it is at night and will not go off. 

So, make sure that there is total darkness for your solar lights to function properly. You should always check out your lux sensor if you want the best and effective results from your solar lights.

If your lux sensor brings light on, it means that there is another source of light apart from the sun where it is located. If it does not show any light, you will need to check out with your vendor to fix the problem or get you another.

Final Thoughts

Finally, we hope that this article guide has given you a bit of ideas and knowledge on what to do when your solar lights stop working next time. You can do these things at home, and your solar lights will start functioning correctly again. 

You know what a solar panel is, how it works, how solar lights function, and what to do the next time your solar lights stop functioning. Having solar lights that are not functioning is a frequent problem, and you should not worry the next time you face such a problem.  

So never panic if you experience such a thing. All you need to do is follow the few steps that we have given you in this article, and you will be good to go.

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