So your solar lights aren’t working and you want to know how to fix them. This isn’t an uncommon problem. Solar lights, in their current incarnation, are frequently manufactured in environments that don’t put a premium on reliability or workmanship. That’s not to say that all solar lights are unreliable, just that some lights from some sources may not quite live up to what they promise in the reliability category.
But not to worry. If your solar lights aren’t working you can fix them with just a little bit of inquisitiveness and know-how. Read on to hear about the fixes for the most common problems users encounter with their solar lights. We’ll also tell you when it’s time to throw in the towel and contact the manufacturer for assistance. (Looking for a guide on how solar lights work? Click here!)
How to Fix Solar Lights 98% of the Time
There are two quick fixes virtually guaranteed to get your light working again.
Make Sure It’s On
This is going to sound very silly to those of you who have already carried out this step but it’s amazing how many times we’ve gone to the site of an “issue” only to find that this simple check hasn’t been done.
Many solar lights have on/off switches. Yes, even though they’re solar-powered, many manufacturers include simple on/off switches to ensure that these lights aren’t turning on when users don’t need them. This prevents unnecessary drainage of the batteries. Unfortunately, and sometimes due to the less-than-stellar English on the instructions, some consumers remain unaware of this fact and assume that their lights should simply work once charged and the lights grow dim outside.
Check the entirety of your solar light to ensure that, if it has an on/off switch, it is turned on.
Then Turn it Off and On Again
Without the phrase, “Did you try turning it off and on again?” most people who work in IT wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. Well, it’s a cliche for a reason. The vast majority of the time, when a device isn’t working, turning it off and on again will solve the issue. Even better, take the batteries out and put them back in, but make sure to wait 10 seconds or so before turning the device back on to make sure it goes through a full on/off cycle.
So you’ve made sure the unit is on and tried turning it off and on again and it still doesn’t work. It’s very likely the batteries that are at fault as this is the most common problem after the unnoticed on/off switch.
Make Sure the Unit’s Batteries are Installed
Again, this sounds foolish but you’ll need to open the device and ensure that there are actually batteries installed. Yes, these lights are solar-powered but they store their charge in rechargeable batteries and they’ll need some (usually two) to operate. Open the battery cover and ensure you’ve got some batteries in there.
Make Sure the Batteries are Installed the Right Way
If there are batteries in the unit, make sure they’re installed the right way. Positive to positive and negative to negative. If they’re installed backward the batteries won’t charge and the light won’t operate.
Make Sure the Batteries are Charged
If the unit is solely solar-powered and your solar lights aren’t working, make sure that the solar panel has been collecting sunlight for a solid couple of hours at least. If there is an alternative charging method, like a USB port or wall socket, try using that for an hour. However you decide to do it, make sure that the batteries have an opportunity to charge.
Try Some New Batteries
If the solar batteries were installed in the correct orientation and had an opportunity to charge and still aren’t working, try swapping them out for a new set. You may have received a defective set if they came with the unit or it may just be that these batteries have reached the end of their useful life. (A solar battery tester can come in handy here.) In any event, try a brand new set of batteries fresh out of the package.
The light might actually be working fine but the conditions aren’t right to operate the bulbs.
Cover the Light Sensor
Most solar lights are, by default, only set up to turn on when it is dark enough to require artificial lighting. For this reason, most will only turn on at dusk or at night. In order to see if this functionality is working, and after you’ve tried the above-noted steps, cover the light sensor (usually the solar panel itself) with your hand or another completely opaque object. The light should turn on if everything is charged and working correctly.
Bring it Into a Dark Room
Just in case you didn’t properly cover the light sensor with your hand or another object, bring the light into a completely dark room to see if it illuminates.
Contact Customer Support
If all of the above steps have failed you, it’s time to contact customer support. You may have a defective solar light on your hands. At this point, all you can do is hope that you bought the solar light from a reputable company with good support and try to get it replaced. Call the number on the box, send an email, or post a letter, because odds are you’re going to need another solar light. Hopefully, the manufacturer won’t make you repeat all of the steps you just completed in order for them to send you another light!
Well, there you have it. Your solar light isn’t working but now you know how to fix it. Most of the above paragraphs will seem pretty self-evident for anyone with a little bit of experience working with electrical devices or appliances, but it’s amazing how often these simple tips will get a solar light working again. (Looking for more useful solar-themed guides. Learn how to clean your solar lights here!)