Solar Lights Troubleshooting

If you have solar lights that just don’t seem to be working, this article may be helpful to you. Solar lights are resistant to the weather, however, they can occasionally run into issues or go out. This is common and you’ll find that it may not mean that they are useless.

Here are some of the most likely reasons that your solar lights have suddenly stopped working right, and some great tips to help you get them back up and running quickly. These tips are easy to implement and will go far in helping you to trouble shoot your non working solar lights.

How do you repair a solar light?

By design, solar lights are resilient. They are placed outside under a sturdy element and will withstand a variety of weather conditions. Thus, they are quickly becoming a great alternative to lighting units in homes, offices, and even in cars.

Unlike other types of lighting, they are very beneficial. Cost-friendly, and non-pollutants, they work well with any environment. They’re incredibly amazing when it comes to a great source of lighting. What can cause them to suddenly quit working?

Cover The Panel

Try covering the solar panel and see if they come on. This tricks the solar panel into thinking that it’s nighttime and it should turn them on. During the daylight hours, solar panels automatically stay off as they are busy working to save the energy that they’re absorbing to convert into light later when it’s dark. They store this energy in batteries. When it gets dark, the solar panels will automatically turn on. If it’s after dark and your solar lights haven’t come on yet, try covering the solar panel and see if that works. Sometimes they just need a little boost of darkness to encourage them to come on. If it’s after dark and they’re not coming on, there may be another solar light that is hitting the solar panel and preventing it from coming on. Consider moving it to a different location, it doesn’t have to be far, sometimes just an inch or two in a rotation will work to encourage your solar light to come on.

Can I Replace The Battery in my Solar Lights?

Batteries only have so much life in them and many types of solar lights have old batteries that either need to be changed out or recharged. Solar lights should always have rechargeable batteries. It’s a good idea to check the charge on the batteries every year or so. Many states that the lights have run for over six years before the batteries require changing.

Dodge Shadows

Where are your solar lights placed? Are they in the shadows? If so, you may need to change their location. As the season’s change, so does the trajectory of the sun. You may have to move your solar lights around every three to four months so that they capture the most sunlight during the day and shine brightly at night.

What’s Your Angle?

While the angle isn’t nearly as important as the amount of sunlight that reaches the charging panel, it can still have a very real effect on the amount of time that the light works. Especially during the darker winter months. If your solar lights feature a panel that can be angled, check the angle frequently and adjust it as much as 45 degrees to help you absorb the most possible light.

South Facing

Solar panels are a lot like satellite dishes, they work best when they are pointed in the right direction. Since the sun rises in the east and the sun sets in the west, south-facing panels are able to absorb the most light from dawn to dusk. Solar lights work well even if they’re not south-facing, it just means that they’re not working up to their fullest potential.


Many solar lights suffer from water ingress. This is an obvious design flaw. A well-designed solar light shouldn’t have this issue and you can watch for IP ratings and learn which of the products give the best protection from water invading the solar panel system. While water may not be a direct problem, many of the lights allow water to drain without accessing the solar panels but they may absorb the moisture. If water is your issue, there are a few ideas to try to remedy it. Remove covers and dry out the moisture. Store the light for a few days in a dry cupboard to dry it out. Put your light back together and ensure that the batteries are well seated. Allow a few days for the light to charge and then check it at night. Seek solar lights that have a warranty and ask the manufacturer if they offer a warranty. If so, send them a picture and state the issue.


All of us have seen trail cameras with an animal very enthusiastic about the camera, solar lighting is no different. It’s fascinating just to walk ahead of the light and yes it comes on and after that goes off after they freeze. This might lead to some checking and finally a number of nibbles. When your solar lighting is being nibbled on, you might need to move them or set them up where the critters aren’t capable to reach them. Damages can occasionally be repaired with electrical tape or even in the worst-case scenario you really should seek advice from the company to ascertain if they already have any spares or whenever you can obtain a new product. Try and leave slack between solar string lights to ensure squirrels won’t utilize the string to work up and down, strong winds may also move solar energy panels around and cause breakage. You may decide to take them out in strong winds and place them back once the storm passes.

On And Off Switches

Sometimes an electrical engineer will simply overlook the need for on and off switches. Not all solar lights will have them, however, if they do, ensure that the switch is turned to the on position otherwise it’s not going to work. Just as you flip a light switch to turn a light on or off, your solar lights may sometimes have these and they must be left in the on position to ensure that your solar lights are working. There may be times that you wish to turn them off for maintenance or repair but otherwise, most people leave them in the on position. If you’re unsure if the switch is turned on, cover the panels and see if the solar light comes on.

Passive Infra-Red Dials or PIR

The more advanced solar light has adjustable dials that allow you to fine-tune the motion detector on your solar panels. This allows you to stop birds, cats, and other forms of wildlife from triggering the lights unnecessarily or you can set them to trigger the lights to protect other animals such as a chicken coop or something. Regardless, you can install the light and set the motion detector PIR to the setting desired, and go from there. All you have to do is start with the maximum sensitivity and adjust it according to your preferences. It may help to have a helper for this project that walks by and triggers the light as you make the adjustments.

Lux Sensor Dial

Similar to the PIR, the lux sensor sets the amount of light before the light will switch on. This can be helpful if you have other light sources that may trigger the light before you want it to trigger. Sometimes the light is installed in a more shady area and other times it’s too bright to trigger the light. Choose the level of light for activation and go from there to adjust it accordingly to the amount of light coming into the solar panel.

Battery Seating/Strip

Sometimes the battery seating strip has worked its way loose. If the seating strip isn’t properly seated you may need to push it back down. If the batteries aren’t touching the contacts properly you’ll also need to adjust that. Loose connections will prevent the light from properly charging. It may take a few days to reach full charge if you have to make these adjustments so be patient.

solar lights troubleshooting

Charging Behind Glass

When a person sits behind glass they can feel the effects of the light, however, this isn’t always the case with solar lights. Sometimes they need to be sitting right out directly in the sunlight, especially if you have double or triple glazed windows. Check window ratings and set the lights somewhere else to charge if you’re lights don’t seem to be charging properly. Find a sunny location outdoors to charge portable solar chargers if you’re having issues.

Is It Plugged In?

While this may seem obvious, it’s sometimes overlooked. If your solar panel is remote and separate from the lamp you may need to plug it back in. Waterproof connectors might need to be tightened if they’re present. Occasionally, the batteries may become loose and not charging properly if they’re not plugged in. Check all of your connections and ensure that everything is properly plugged in to ensure that your solar lights are working properly.

To Solder Or Not To Solder

Before you fire up your soldering iron, check with the company that manufacturers the light before you proceed. Many companies look favourably at consumers who try everything else before contacting them, still others will state that a soldering iron will invalidate any warranties. Make sure that you’re not invalidating a warranty before you fire up that soldering iron.

When All Else Fails

When all else fails, there is always the mains. Consider plugging a mains charger into the light or remove the batteries and try a mains charger. If your using a compatible mains charger that you purchased with the light, things could improve or not. Solar panels put out specific voltage in comparison with batteries and other charging units. Mains chargers may fry the circuitry or they could even overcharge the unit. Check carefully and ensure that the chargers being used are the right charger for the unit. If not, you risk overloading the circuitry or frying the system itself. To avoid this, don’t use more voltage than is recommended. When in doubt, call the company and inquire as to which unit to use with which charger.

Dirty Solar Panels

If you’re near a busy road or your solar lights are, you may have dirty solar panels. There are other issues that can also cause a dirty solar panel. Take a damp cloth and wipe down the solar panels periodically to ensure that thye’re receiving as much light as possible when they’re charging. This will ensure that your solar lights are working to their full potential.

Why Is My Solar Light Blinking?

There could be one of three reasons for this:

  1. A loose wire connection to the battery and the LED.
  2. You accidentally set the light to flashing mode.
  3. Your batteries aren’t fully charged.

Why Is My Solar Light On During The Day?

Your light sensor may be broken. Don’t worry, you can fix this, simply disassemble the light, clean the sensor, and reassemble it. This usually works, if not, then replace the old sensor with a new one and it should work just fine.

Why Do My Solar Lights Only Last One Year?

This is usually a battery issue. Simply change out the batteries and see if this works, if not, troubleshoot using the above-mentioned ideas and see if that works. Ensure that the voltage for the batteries is correct and check to see if you may require a higher mAh battery.

These tips should help you to ensure that your solar lights are working properly all year long. If they do stop working, you should now be able to fully trouble shoot them and fix or repair them as needed to ensure that you can see everywhere in your yard that you wish to see after dark. Not all solar panels are created equal so pick and choose according to your specific solar panel needs and requirements.