Picture of Garden Lights
Garden Lights are easy to care for and last for years, put them out in the spring, bring them in in the fall, this is a good time to wash them, store them over the winter with the batteries out, and replace the batteries every two years, beyond that you can forget about them. However my neighbors just buy them put them out and forget about them until they don’t work and then throw them out, this is where I come in.

I love my neighbors garbage this box of garden lights was about to end up in the landfill until I came along, 25 solar garden lights, and new replacement batteries. Now to begin with batteries are not supposed to go to the land fill we have a special collection for them where I live, let alone plastics are recyclable and so are the electronics.

It didn’t take me long to find out why they were thrown out most of them were beyond repair.

Step 1: Sorting the Good from the Bad

Picture of Sorting the Good from the Bad
I started by separating and tested the batteries from the box the ones that did not have a charge I will put in a charger later and see if they will hold a charge.

Normally when I get a box like this I sort them visually into two groups smashed beyond repair and not smashed, then I go through the not smashed and sort them by working, repairable, and not repairable. To do this I take them apart, inspect them, and test them.

These lights are easy to dissemble they just clip together there is only 1 screw to hold the circuit board in place and a little calking to hold the solar panel in place, most of the solar panels were loose because the calking degraded from exposure.
victlai5 months ago

Hi i would like to know where do I can get replace garden recharge batteries aa. those normal recharge batteries not suitable out door sun light .

Thank you for inform

Josehf Murchison (author)  victlai5 months ago

Try your local hardware.

DarrenO27 months ago

What if the lights stay on when exposed to sunlight?

Josehf Murchison (author)  DarrenO26 months ago

That can be short, a defective component, not enough light, or a broken wire.

ok thank you. I will check it out sometime soon.

This lights iare amazing.

Thanks for post!

Josehf Murchison (author)  Draftmen8881 year ago

Your welcome


Great instructible... I have a pile of old garden lights in the garage.

Josehf Murchison (author)  SpringRobin1 year ago

If you have troubles fixing them get back to me.

Will do - thanks

Awesome execution here.


ninja baby1 year ago
sir tnx 4 allowng me to ask some i dnt knw,i built a 3 garden lights to convert usb charger.wired in series gvng me 8volts i put a diode and capacitor16v 1000uf. and 6 battries frm mobile rated each 3,7volts in parallel 750mah each one.i dvide ths 6 batt to 2 bank.each rated 3.7v 3x750mah.the banks charged well but i cant charged my android phone rated 3.7v, 1200mah. is it safe sir to use in parallel the banks 3.7volts at max of 4500 mah.my system works in radio,led lights and speaker box only.but not on my android device.pls help sir. i posted in my fb gavrel de fiesta.
Josehf Murchison (author)  ninja baby1 year ago
3 garden lights in series giving 8 volts with a diode and a capacitor OK.

The capacitor is fine.

Is the diode a 1N5817 or equivalent?

It may only be putting out 100 ma, did you check the charging current?

Batteries not in use charge more easily than devices, because the device sucks part of the charging current.

Depending on your charging current you may need two or more sets of three solar cells in parallel like this pic to charge a device.

And last did you check the voltage with the circuit loaded?

See my Instructable Circuit Testing.


3 P Cells.bmp
ninja baby1 year ago
im learning with ur guide sir tnx a lot
Josehf Murchison (author)  ninja baby1 year ago
Any way I can help if you have a question just ask.
ninja baby1 year ago
im learning with ur guide sir tnx a lot
cccrover2 years ago
step 2, 'replace with new battery and expose to sun and see if light went out'... what to do if the light does not go out??... thanks...
Josehf Murchison (author)  cccrover2 years ago
I get so many of them I just strip it for parts however if that isn’t your case.

Open it up and clean the dirt off the circuit board and make sure all the wires are connected.

If it is just a photo cell make sure it is connected to the circuit and generating electricity.

If it is a photo cell and a photoresistor make sure the photo resistor is connected to the circuit and the resistance changes with light.

If you do all of these things and the light doesn’t go out replace the circuit board.

davelane242 years ago
Great stuff. Voted for you
Josehf Murchison (author)  davelane242 years ago
foobear2 years ago
I love these things, but they always expire after a year or so. Now I know how to repair them, thank you!
Kevanf12 years ago
Brilliant (no pun intended). This has inspired me to go and check out the solar powered lights on the two bird tables in our garden.
Josehf Murchison (author)  Kevanf12 years ago
Take credit for the pun.
He, he :) The best ones always come unbidden.
Josehf Murchison (author)  Kevanf12 years ago
l8nite2 years ago
solar lights are one of my favorite finds when curb mining, I use a rag dampened with vinegar to clean the solar collectors and let the plastic "globes" soak in a 5 gallon bucket half full of water and a cup of vinegar. Vinegar also helps clean up corrosion from the battery connectors. Thank you for sharing your project
Josehf Murchison (author)  l8nite2 years ago
Turned out to be a rich vain that day from my curb mine.

I do the same thing vinegar works really well, and it doesn’t bother the electronics.

Unfortunately three feet of snow is normal here, it buries the lights and rusts everything made of steel and vinegar just won’t fix that I wish it did.

I’m not worried I still got 8 good lights out of the deal and a whole bunch of good batteries.
rimar20002 years ago
I envy your fortune, my neighbors don't throw anything to the waste, even a broke lid.
Josehf Murchison (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Oh well then this will make you very envious I am collecting as many as I can, I plan to make a solar array large enough to power my house with no cost other than my time.
FoamboardRC2 years ago
You would probably get more view if you named the i'ble "Fixing Garden Lights" or "Restoring Garden Lights" rather than just "Garden Lights".
Josehf Murchison (author)  FoamboardRC2 years ago
It is in the tags you just can’t see them all.
one thought, they make some really good rechargers that include some great restoration features, full load testing, ma/hr drain testing. I bought one a few years back and never regretted it, a little costly, about 70 USD, but worth it.
Josehf Murchison (author)  arkangel19752 years ago
I have one and yea they are expensive but there worth it.