5 Main Reasons Why Your Solar Lights Are Not Performing as Well as New.
What is the life span of solar lights?
Many times the question pops up regarding the life span of solar powered lights. How does one ensure the best performance and prolong the life of solar lights? After a while, you might notice that your solar lights are not as bright as when you first bought them. And without knowing the basics of solar lights, you may become confused about what exactly happened. Could it be that your solar lights got old and need to be recycled or is there something that you just need to know about the maintenance of your solar powered products?
Solar lights need four essential components to function:
1. A rechargeable battery to store the power generated by the energy from the sun.
2. A small photovoltaic cell or solar array that captures sunlight during the day and converts it into electrical energy. The solar array is usually built right into the light fixture. Some light designs have separate solar arrays connected by a thin wire allowing the light to be located in a shady area while the solar array itself is placed in a bright, sunny location.
3. A ¡°charge controller¡± to ensure the batteries don¡¯t get overcharged in bright sunlight as well as to monitor the amount of light in the surrounding area and turn the LED (light emitting diode) light on and off.
4. An LED (or a series of LEDs) which provides the light.
Rechargeable Solar Light Batteries are the major cause of failure in solar garden lights (5 main reasons why your solar lights are not performing as well as new.)
Rechargeable solar batteries will self-discharge which means that over time the batteries will discharge to a point where they no longer work.
It is important to ensure you charge your solar lights at least every three (3) months to ensure the battery stays in good shape and lasts its life span, generally 1-2 years.
Replace your old batteries when they run their life cycle.
When you purchase your solar lights, the rechargeable batteries are often already included in the fixture. After 1-2 years (or a matter of months in some cases) it is quite normal to see their performance decline. Once you notice that the lighting time is considerably diminishing and the lights are not as bright as before, it¡¯s probably time to replace your rechargeable solar garden light batteries.
Another reason of reduced lighting time and brightness can also be that the solar light batteries are not charging correctly.
For the best charging performances the solar panel needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Dust and other accumulated residues can considerably affect the charging procedure. They form a coating layer on the solar panel and block the sunlight.
An easy way to check if the rechargeable batteries are dead is to test them by briefly replacing them with regular batteries, just long enough to check if the light is working. If you are testing the solar light during the day, don¡¯t forget to cover it, or place the light in a darkened room. This will allow the photocell to trigger the light to its ¡°on¡± position. If the solar light turns on with normal batteries it means that the rechargeable batteries are faulty and you will need to buy a new set.
Important: don¡¯t forget to pay particular attention to the location of the solar lights.
Batteries will not charge properly if the solar panel is in the shade, they rely on the energy of the sun to charge.
There is another simple test you can do before replacing the solar light rechargeable batteries. Place your solar lights under direct sunshine for a day or two and see what happens. If, after this duration, the illumination time is back to normal, it means that the solar panel was not getting enough light from the sun. Commonly, solar lights should be in direct sunlight for at least 4 hours a day to adequately charge the rechargeable batteries.
If you store your solar lights for long periods of time, take the batteries out!
When you had to store your garden solar lights for a long period of time (during winter months, for example), did you take out the batteries? If you did, your solar light batteries will have a longer life span.
Replacing solar light batteries is not a difficult task.
All you have to do is to locate the solar light battery cover, remove it, take out the defective batteries and replace them with new ones. If no battery cover can be found, the solar light needs to be taken apart, usually with one or two screws. On most models you¡¯ll find the screws on the top or bottom of the light. Once the unit is open you¡¯ll have access to the batteries.
Types of rechargeable batteries.
Most solar garden lights need between 1 to 4 batteries to work. 2 types of batteries are usually used in garden solar lights: AA size ¨C NiCad(Nickel Cadmium) 1.2 V / 500 to 900mA, and AA size ¨C NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) 1.2 V /1000 to 2000mA.
When it is time to change the solar light rechargeable batteries, the choice of battery also plays an important part in ensuring the enhanced performance of your solar lights.
Nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH) will have up to three times more capacity than the same size Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) battery, meaning they are capable of lasting longer and more reliable.
NiMH batteries in your solar lights may cost a little extra but they are more environmentally friendly than NiCd batteries. NiMH batteries are more environmentally friendly because they use a dry liquid, which can be disposed of more easily. They will also withstand greater temperature fluctuations operating in temperatures ranging from -20 to 60 degrees Celsius (-4 to 140F). Ni-MH batteries have a ¡°non-memory effect¡± which means they will continue to charge on cloudy days. The battery performance will not be diminished by these partial charges, as what can occur with lead acid batteries.
Solar light replacement batteries are standard and can be found easily. If you know these solar lights basics, with minimum maintenance effort you will enjoy your solar powered lights for years.