Introduction: How to Repair a Solar Powered LED Garden Light

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?

Step 1: Take Apart the Light Fitting.

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

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!

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.

Step 4: Re-assemble and Huzzah!

Put all your clean and repaired parts back together, along with the partially recharged batteries. (You can try to fill in the gaps with something if you want to prevent bugs from getting in).
Then Stick your finger over the Light Dependent resistor (usually next to the solar panel) and turn it on. Does the LED light up? Hooray! :) Congratulations on fixing your old light. Now just stick it back in your garden and enjoy it's glowy goodness.

If it doesn't work, you better go back to step 1... :(

Watch this space for more tutorials from Rhodesy.
You're on the Rhodesy to success with me!

Comments

author
warhawk8080 made it!(author)2016-09-21

Conformal coat the boards with clear nail polish on initial purchase and on repair...the electronics and connections will last MUCH MUCH longer

author
AdamA10 made it!(author)2016-04-25

My solar panel appears to have corroded over time likely due to Chicago winters. Does anyone have a source for these panels that can be retro fitted?

Many thanks

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TommyP18 made it!(author)2016-08-18

china. ebay them. dirt cheap. if you dont like waiting I've had luck removing the panels from the dollar store garden lights while heating the underside with a heat gun.....not sure if this damages the panel but I heat it just enough to be able to pop away from the adhesive.

for $2 (local dollar store price) you get a solar panel and the neat little circuit inside. Even ebaying them from china would still cost you more than buying it locally and disassembling it.

author
killerjackalope made it!(author)2008-07-04

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...

author
xerxesx20 made it!(author)2008-12-23

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!

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killerjackalope made it!(author)2008-12-24

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...

author
rjones19521 made it!(author)2016-04-20

In defense of both of you, defense is spelled "defenSe" in America but you guys may be from Europe or elsewhere because they spell it with a "c".

Just a note of levity here.

author
xerxesx20 made it!(author)2009-01-03

Excellent, I fully condone the odd "tipple" (or five) lol. :-)

author
snoyes made it!(author)2008-07-05

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.

author
killerjackalope made it!(author)2008-07-05

I was just going to find whatever was handy, I'll give you a shout when I find a random household item to use...

author
RennettB made it!(author)2016-02-08

How are the wires supposed to be connected inside the top cover of the solar landscape lighting unit? 2 of mine have stopped lighting. I have changed the batteries but they still aren't working. I think the wires inside the top have come lose but I can't open the top of any of the other lights to see how the wires are supposed to be connected. Replacement part is no longer available.

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author
GuyG5 made it!(author)2015-06-04

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cortezmike made it!(author)2009-03-31

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.

author
12V made it!(author)2009-05-20

there is no such thing as solar batteries they are just standard nickel-cadmium batteries. possibly a solar brand but they work the same.

author
twocvbloke made it!(author)2009-06-28

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... :)

author
arvevans made it!(author)2015-05-09

You can find high mAh (milli-Ampere-hour) rated NiCAD batteries on Ebay. The solar cell plate only has to replace what power you use during hours of darkness. In high brightness days it should be able to fully charge much larger cells. Most cheap solar lights use AAA cells that are rated at 200 mAh. You can go much higher current rating than that. You can even put AA sized NiCAD cells inside most solar light housings to increase charge capacity. High-Intensity LEDs are available from many Ebay vendors. These will all draw about the same amount of current so changing to a more efficient LED should be possible. Cheap solar lights use clip-in batteries that tend to corrode at the ends. Annually cleaning (scraping) the battery ends and the terminals where batteries make contact will greatly extend their usable lifespan.

author
sideways made it!(author)2009-07-06

I replaced the 2 NiCd batts in mine with 2300mAh NiMH. They seem to be holding up after one year of use.

author
wozzy made it!(author)2010-10-06

2300mAh in mine as well. They work just fine.

author
Emmanuel+BaptistC made it!(author)2014-07-29

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.

author
arvevans made it!(author)2015-05-09

"China Junk lights worked for over 2 years, then started failing. I cleaned the terminals where batteries were connected. Since that they have been going strong for 1 year and will probably last for several more years.

author
diane.gasaway made it!(author)2015-04-13

paxdonnaverde could try cannibalizing an inexpensive solar lamp.

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Dan+Marshall made it!(author)2014-12-14

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?

author
Kj+alley made it!(author)2014-04-28

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

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Taf56 made it!(author)2014-06-22

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!

author
digerdo2 made it!(author)2013-12-16

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?

Thanks

author
digerdo2 made it!(author)2013-12-14

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.

Thanks............digerdo2

author
jeriatric made it!(author)2012-07-24

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

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paxdonnaverde made it!(author)2012-05-11

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.

author
TheZuke%21 made it!(author)2010-11-08

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.

author
fegundez1 made it!(author)2009-11-29

I see a reference to upgrading the led to stronger ones. Would you have to do any mods to the wiring to do this?

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blindflacker made it!(author)2009-07-02

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?

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wierd+idiot made it!(author)2008-11-10

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.

author
Ian01 made it!(author)2008-08-13

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.

author
Lftndbt made it!(author)2008-07-06

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.

author
chalky made it!(author)2008-07-05

nice job,also good to see an instructable featuring the good old UK plug socket lol

author
LinuxH4x0r made it!(author)2008-07-04

Awesome! I have some of those in the back yard of the house I'm buying

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