Jun 24 2019
With warmer weather, lots of people are putting out solar lights that may have been tucked away for the winter. Others may be spending more time outside and notice that their solar lighting just isn't what it used to be. Here are some quick tips to get them back up to snuff.
Make sure the solar panel is clear of any pollen or dirt. The best way is to spray it with a hose and use a soft cotton cloth, such as an old t-shirt. Cleansers should only be used as a last resort, and they should be diluted as much as possible. If necessary, use a soft brush like the softest toothbrush available and use as little pressure as possible. The exception: if your solar panel has a rubber-like appearance, never use any abrasives or cleansers as they are likely to ruin the product.
If you've had a lot of cloudy weather lately just shut the lights off for two days to let the battery get a good solid charge of solar power, and then turn them back on. As long as the batteries don't need replacement, this quick trick can do wonders.
Are your batteries approaching the two year mark? If so, they likely need to be replaced. Just make sure that you replace the batteries with the same type that came with the product. The easiest way to do this: take the battery to a hardware store or home center and ask for the same type of product. You can also contact the store from which you purchased the item, as they likely can assist you.
Never use batteries other than the ones that came with the product, as these may work great at first but odds are they will soon destroy the solar light or any electronic device. Improper batteries will also void any warranties on the product. Remember to dispose of batteries properly.
The good news about replacing batteries? Along with a jump start to your product, you'll find that prices for batteries continually go down, especially for high-quality lithium ion batteries. And remember, you usually get what you pay for with batteries. Discount prices can mean the product is inferior or that it's been sitting on the shelf for a long time, meaning that it's actually older than you think.
Make sure that the solar panel is getting enough sunlight. Some solar products have panels that can be adjusted seasonally. If your panel can be adjusted, try moving it to a 45 degree angle facing the sun until the days get longer. If the panel is stationary, try moving it to an area with a bit more sunlight.
Check for anything that may be blocking light to the solar panel. For example, have trees grown bigger since the solar product was installed? If so, and they are on your property, you may want to trim them back. Are there any new physical structures that cast shadows such as a new shed, pergola or other tall garden ornament?
Ideally, you should check for these things before installation, particular for solar lamps. But most solar products can be easily moved so try relocating it by just a couple of feet. This often makes a great difference.
Have new light sources been installed by you, your neighbors, or your municipality? Solar products designed to work at night have a sensor that detects darkness, so a stronger light that illuminates the area may be tricking your solar light into thinking it's still daytime. The solution: move the light that is easiest to move. The exception to this: solar fountains or water pumps without batteries, as these will only work when the sun is shining.
If you've tried all of the above, the fixture may just have outlived its lifespan. This is particularly true for accent lights that generally aren't designed with as robust technology as say solar lamps or solar security lights. And, you should always feel free to contact the store you purchased the product from with any questions. They should be able to help you particularly if the product is under warranty or let you know how to get any necessary replacement parts.
In the worst case scenario, they should be able to help you buy an economical replacement. Remember: solar technology continues to rapidly advance while costs for quality products go down. This means that your merchant is likely to recommend a replacement that is of higher quality for a similar or perhaps even lower (minus inflation) cost than the price you originally paid.
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