When it comes to garden and landscape lighting, my personal preference is solar. Solar garden lights are eco-friendly because they use free energy from the sun (no electricity!) and they are easy to install. Sometimes though, solar lights will stop working. What can you do if your lights fail to light up at night? Here are some tips to help you troubleshoot your solar landscape lights.
The first thing to check with lights that aren't working would be the batteries. Make sure you have turned on the lights (some lights have on/off switches) and that you have removed any pull-tab that blocks the batteries from making contact during shipping. Believe me, I've done this before. I've bought new solar lights, put them in the yard and wondered why they never lit up. Upon examining them I had either failed to turn the switches to "on" or had failed to open the battery compartment and remove the pull tab. Check those areas first.
The NiCad rechargeable batteries that light up solar garden lights should last for one to two years, if you've had the lights for awhile you might need to get new batteries. Replacement batteries can be purchased in the lighting or garden section of most home improvement stores.
Check the battery terminals. Corroded terminals can be a common culprit for solar garden lights failing to illuminate properly. If the terminals appear to be dirty or corroded, use a pencil eraser, a small wire brush or a piece of sandpaper to clean them.
Solar landscape lights need at least six hours of direct sunlight on the solar panel during the day in order to light up at night. If your solar lights are not lighting up, are dim or are not staying lit for very long, check their location. Move them into a bright, sunny spot to collect sunlight then watch to see how well they light up at night.
If solar lights are located too close to bright outside lights (such as a porch light or security light) they will not light up adequately. Trying moving them farther away from the outside lights.
If the solar panel is obscured by dirt or leaves or appears to be damaged, clean it off then set the light in the sun. Occasionally a solar panel can become so dirty or damaged that it no longer functions.
While LED lights have long lifespans, the bulbs can occasionally become damaged. When a few of my solar lights stop lighting up, I discovered that two of them had damaged LED bulbs. The leads on the bulbs can corrode and break, which is what happened with these particular lights.
Replacing the LED bulbs on inexpensive solar garden lights is not cost effective, but if you have bought high-end lights with a warranty you should check with the manufacturer. Depending upon the circumstances, the terms of the warranty and the time frame, some solar light manufacturers will warranty and replace damaged bulbs (or entire lights).
If you have replaced the batteries, cleaned the terminals, checked the LED bulbs, cleared the solar panels, changed the locations and your solar garden lights still don't work, then you may just be out of luck. Fortunately, solar landscape lights are affordably-priced and can be replaced easily.