Repairing Solar Cells




About: I am a photographer, a tinker, an electronics technology engineer, and author; I write short stories and poetry for the love of writing. I started writing poetry in high school over thirty years ago where I ...

This is a trick I use to attach wires to glass solar cells.

I fallow the three R rules of living green; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, as well as I try to find sources of renewable resources.

To achieve this goal I salvage many things from the garbage and one of the things I salvage from the garbage is solar garden lights.

Solar garden lights can be so inexpensive to buy people don’t repair them when they stop working; they just throw them in the garbage when they stop working and this is where I step in.
By salvaging the solar lights from the garbage I reduce the waste going to the landfill, R1.
By repairing the lights I reuse them R2.
And by stripping for the good parts and recycling the other materials, R3.
With solar lights and the solar cells you get a renewable resource, solar energy.
In this Instructable I will be covering repairing the solar cell.

The most common repair to a solar light is replacing the battery with a rechargeable battery (Not a disposable battery,) please. Replacing the battery with a disposable battery is a mistake I see in many of the solar lights I salvage.

The next most common defect is oxidized wires and the hardest to replace is the leads on the solar cell. Whether by oxidization or breaking while striping the solar light you may need to replace the lead wires to the solar cell and you cannot just solder new leads onto the cell in many cases.

Liquid solder that does not need heat to bond the materials together don’t always conduct electricity however I have found something that does conduct electricity and connects the leads to the solar cell.
It is called “Quick Grid Repair Resin” and it is to repair the rear window defogger in your car, I buy it at the local automotive supply.

First gather the tools and materials you will need and organize them:
A small paint brush
A multimeter
Quick Grid Repair Resin
Scrub Pad
Cells to be repaired

Clean the cells of all debris, (Do not use metal scrub pads or sandpaper to scrape clean the solar cells.)

Test the cells with a multimeter and mark the polarity.

Cut the new lead wires and strip the ends.

Tape the wires in place and dab on plenty of Quick Grid Repair Resin.

Let the resin set and test the solar cell even under low room light you should get a reading on the multimeter.

After testing and confirming the connections remove the tape and glue or use silicone calking to secure the lead wires and let the glue set.

When the glue or calking is set retest all the connections and your solar cells are ready for your next renewable energy project. The trick in this Instructable the Quick Grid Repair Resin, it is like soldering without heat.

Electronics Tips and Tricks

Finalist in the
Electronics Tips and Tricks



  • 1 Hour Challenge

    1 Hour Challenge
  • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

    Colors of the Rainbow Contest
  • Classroom Science Contest

    Classroom Science Contest

24 Discussions


1 year ago

Interesting failure mode I just documented on "open frame" panels with the green back, the encapsulant around the edge degrades and goes low resistance. I did find a fix though, confirmed that removing it or otherwise bypassing around it (cough laser etcher /cough) will work and the panel can then be re-sealed and used. YMMV! The front contact is a PITA though and about all you can do is etch it with mechanical means or sometimes household 3% H2O2 or blue glow stick juice will work. Thanks Jeri for the tip!

1 reply

2 years ago

Exactly what I'm trying to do, fix decorative solar lights in the yard which are not the $2.98 lights. Thanks.

1 reply

2 years ago

Ive got over 500 of these little guys all cut out. Im happy you showed me this becuase many of them have lost wires.

1 reply
Josehf MurchisonOrusA

Reply 2 years ago

Cool that is about 30 to 40 watts.

Watch out for a plastic backing on some of them.


4 years ago on Introduction

Great reuse of otherwise refused products....I always wondered how the wires were attached as I operated on a defective panel and tried to hot solder the wire...the voltage was correct but the current was paltry. Now that I am retired, my job in life is to find ways to reuse what most people are busily throwing in the trash. Hopefully you did not find any panels in the compost pile or mixed in with decaying food (garbage). Trashed items like solar lights, microwaves, household appliances, electronics etc have many usable parts. There aren't too many people - there are too many people trashing the planet.

1 reply

I salvage and repair everything, fishing, hunting, appliances, and home entertainment. the only thing I don't do is refrigeration because of the specialized equipment. if man makes it man breaks it and I fix it.


4 years ago

can u use a copper wire higher gage?

1 reply

I have a box full of "bad" solar lights from the dollar store. Thanks to your clear instructions I'm reusing em'. Excellent instructable.

1 reply

6 years ago on Introduction WOULD YOU GIVE me permission to post this on my blog? I'm a "Prepper", It would be nice to get all your hard work out there. AND I ALWAYS give proper credit & photos have your name as credit as well. Thanks, HomeMommy13

1 reply

6 years ago on Introduction

me find some thing build me solar power ? know get help some me know soon can ?

Sweet! How much is this resin? I've never seen it before but knew there had to be something simple to repair defrosters with.

3 replies

I got that jar a year ago at NAPA auto parts for about $5 the jar is about the size of the first segment of my little finger. It is real cheep compaired to replacing the window just to fix the defroster. I use the resin for any job that will not solder like connecting a wire to glass or aluminium. in thin narow strips It gets hot under power and you can make custom resistors on glass or ceramics with it. If you use thick gobbs of it it doesn't get hot.

Hello Josehf,

Not having any electrical experience at all except for household things like changing switches and fuses, have some quesions if you don't mind. Built a 5' octagon lighthouse and put an outside glass light on top. Also bought a bunch of cheap solar garden lights which I installed in the glass light. Then chiseled out the wooden top platform and glued the solar cells in, thus surrounding the glass light externally with 4 solar cells and 4 leds inside the glass light.

The difficult part was extricating the solar cells from the plastic garden lights since they were all normally glued with either a silicon or rubber based adhesive. In this process many times had to repair the wires from the solar cells and soldering does not work on these glass solar cells. Thus the questions.

The Quick Grid Repair Resin seems to alleviate the soldering issue and living also in a small town finding a bottle of this resin may require a trip to a NAPA store somewhere but that is fine. Have used it to repair the defroster on the back window of the car but it was a kit for one application and cost $13.00. Thus my assumption is that this bottle is all I need.

You also stated that the polarity of the cell needs to be checked. Usually I go by the coloring of wires normally being red and black, but some have the same color. I do have a multimeter and need to know how to set it up for polarity because you don't refer to conductivity.

It has always been difficult for me to check the circuit once its assembled but does not work. The wiring is so small and delicate to work with and me having big thumbs. Thought of going to heavier gauge but scared to change the formulation of the circuit.

Nevertheless, have finished the project and she's sitting in my front yard. But I'm planning another one, building a light house, probably bigger and including fiber optic strings to go down the lines of the lighthouse and on the guard rails of the top and bottom platforms. Thus having solar cells on both platforms embedded into the wood. The woodworking part is easy for me but the electronics are not. Your comments on the use of Quick grid repair is great and basic repair helps a lot. Developing a circuit for this is not.

Any comments would be appreciated.
Wally (

Make sure to seal the back of the solar cells well any water gets to the back of the cell and they mess up.

All you need is the bottle of the Quick Grid Repair Resin and a small brush the bottle I showed there was the size of the last digit of my pinky finger and it did 24 solar cells in one sitting. It does not store well after being opened so I tend to use it up in one sitting.

Do not use conductivity when checking polarity on a solar cell if the cell is strong enough it can bugger your meter.

When I check the polarity I check the voltage produced by the cell I set my multimeter for the lowest setting above 2 volts DC. On the meter in my instructable that is 20 volts DC then I touch the leads of my meter to the contact locations of the solar cells and expose the cell to light. The meter should react just like it would if you touched the leads to a battery the red lead is positive and it should read a number like 3.5 volts if the positive lead is connected to the positive side of the cell. If the positive lead is connected to the negative side of the cell it will read a minus number like -3.5 volts.