How to repair a solar powered LED garden light

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This is a guide on how to repair your light if you have had it for a few years and the stress of the outdoors have caused it to stop working.
Honestly, why won't cheap things last longer than five minutes?
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Step 1: Take apart the light fitting.

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First of all, you need to take apart your light fitting. Usually most lights will be held together by screws around the edge. Just look on the underside and remove any that you find. The glass or plastic cover for the light sometimes twists apart aswell so try that too.
After you have opened it, just take off any big removable parts, taking note on how they assemble so you can fit them back on. Also remove the batteries if they are rechargable. If they are physically attached / soldered in, just leave them as they are.

Step 2: Recharge the batteries

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If the batteries in your light are stuck in, skip this step to step 3.
Place the rechargable batteries into a recharger for a while. If your light hasn't been working for a while, then the solar panel will take a looong time to revive the dead batteries. This will just give the batteries a kick-start so that the solar panel will just top it up during the day.

Step 3: Cleaning time!

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To improve the brightness of your light, you will have to clean the casing. Just clean the see-through cover in hot water and washing up liquid and wipe around the casing. Remove any bugs too!

Next, check the circuit for damage. You should be able to work out something thats stopping the circuit from working. A good indication is rust or broken wires. Where possible, just try to replace the parts. If you haven't got spare wires or a soldering iron, just use wire cutters to strip wires and twist the ends back together. If the switch is broken, you can cut it out and twist the wires together. If the LED isn't very bright, you could consider taking it out and replacing it with a new similar LED of your choice if you know how to.
Dan Marshall3 months ago

I have dead solar lights. I´m trying to decide whether to replace the batteries or replace the entire light. When I remove the batteries, and connect a volt meter to the solar light´s battery terminals, I get about 0.2 Volts. In my experience, a charger has to put out slightly more voltage than a batteries rating, in order to charge it. This would suggest that the solar light must put out more than 1.2V, so I should just buy new lights.

Are the solar batteries different, so they can charge despite the low voltage?

I have a Hampton Bay Foxtail ED solar light. Worked great for one year. I purchased the the correct replacement batteries. Charged them fully the light worked great until the battery was drained. I suspect the solar panel is simply not charging the battery so I took it apart and found it ti be perfectly clean inside. I cleaned the out side of the panel but still no luck. I suspect the panel needs replaced so where can I purchase a replacement panel? I sure miss the days when products were made in USA instead of China's junk. Sad to see our country forsake quality for cheap China plastic everything.

Kj alley11 months ago

my garden lights come on at daytime & off at nightime what could be the problem

Taf56 Kj alley9 months ago

Usually a dead battery, but also corroded contacts of/to the battery. DO NOT SPRAY WITH SILICONE SPRAY TO WATERPROOF as it will render the contacts insulated so they will never work again!

digerdo21 year ago
Just what I needed. Do you know where I can get spare parts for these kind of lights.
The small cover over the led on one of mine is broken and needs to be replaced.
Does Home Depot carry these kind of batteries? or Battery Charger?

digerdo21 year ago
Great article. I was just going to throw mine away and buy new ones, but your article gives me the incentive to repair mine.

Where do you buy the bulb covers and battery chargers, or batteries.

jeriatric2 years ago
can anyone help with a funny problem please? have stainless steel lamps with three that are faulty , in effect they will not go OFF. put new batteries in and they light up and stay alight until battery wears out day or night. Thanks for any help
I have a very nice metal lantern-style solar light and am unable to repair the circuitry. Does anyone know where I could purchase just the solar panel/light assembly without buying a whole new fixture?

If not, this could be a good business product for some of you techies.
TheZuke!4 years ago
I raised my solar lights up to about 3' off the ground by using re-bar.
When sidewalks and such are being demolished, the contractor will often let
you have a few short (~4') pieces from the debris.
Straighten them out, sand/brush/scrape off dirt and rust,
paint them with Rustoleum (I used black),
drive them into the ground,
and set the solar lamp, with its plastic pipe without the spike,over the rebar.
It raises them above the lawn mower and snow blower.
Convert feet to metric units if desired.
cortezmike6 years ago
I spent at least an hour searching for this info....finally found this website and was just what I was looking for. I wondered if my battery recharger would work on solar batteries and now I know it will. Thanks.
12V cortezmike5 years ago
there is no such thing as solar batteries they are just standard nickel-cadmium batteries. possibly a solar brand but they work the same.
twocvbloke 12V5 years ago
Also, these Ni-Cad batteries are often a low Ah rating for such applications, so the small solar cell has no trouble recharging them to a usable state, if you upgraded them to, for example, 2100mAh NiMH batteries, they'd be dead within no time as the solar panel will never produce enough charge them... :)
I replaced the 2 NiCd batts in mine with 2300mAh NiMH. They seem to be holding up after one year of use.
wozzy sideways4 years ago
2300mAh in mine as well. They work just fine.
fegundez15 years ago
I see a reference to upgrading the led to stronger ones. Would you have to do any mods to the wiring to do this?
My solar panel appears to have shorted or corroded. It has burn marks as well as the white corrosion that normally forms on these. Is it done for? Has anybody fixed this problem?
Nice job though it's more like how to revive a solar garden light, I'm in the process of building new poles for my ones, they're very stylish but my brother and I stumbled over them drunk one too many times...

Same thing happened to the mains operated light...
Lol, how do you trip over a light?! Can you not see it? Drunkards these days, tsch. lol (I suppose in your defence, they could have been off, or discharged.) Like your 'ibles -- do some more!
They're in little bushes and weren't on, also in my defence I had a lot of money that night and was celebrating something...
Excellent, I fully condone the odd "tipple" (or five) lol. :-)
I have the same problem, except it's from a sober 4-year-old tromping through the grass and turning the poles into so many shards of useless plastic. I imagine I could go find some PVC pipe of the right diameter.
I was just going to find whatever was handy, I'll give you a shout when I find a random household item to use...
wierd idiot6 years ago
i like to buy cheap solar lights and put higher power batteries in them. Also replacing the dull LED's with some new high intensity LED's works well.
Ian016 years ago
Make sure you use the correct charger for your batteries, i.e. a NiCad charger for NiCad batteries or a NiMH charger for NiMH batteries. Otherwise they could be damaged or blow up.
Lftndbt6 years ago
On a side note~
If you read the instructions (not that anyone does) it's say that the batteries need to be fully charged yearly to maintain optimum efficiency.

If you don't have a battery charger, turn the lights off and stick them in the sun for 3 days. Then turn back on. The three day period will be enough to recharge them fully.
chalky6 years ago
nice job,also good to see an instructable featuring the good old UK plug socket lol
LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Awesome! I have some of those in the back yard of the house I'm buying