Do your solar lights not light up at night? Here’s how to fix them. Usually the AA rechargable batteries need replacing, but sometimes it’s the light sensor being covered with formerly translucent plastic becoming opaque due to exposure to sun and weather.
Observe solar light during bright daylight after several hours of sunshine to see if the light is on.
It may be necessary to remove the solar cell assembly from the post, usually by rotating the solar cell assembly counter clockwise for part of a turn and lifting the solar cell assembly away from the post.
If the solar light is NOT on during bright daylight, then the light sensor may be working but the battery or batteries may be dead.
-Cover the button appearing light sensor atop the solar cell assembly and near the solar cell with a finger. If the light now comes on the sensor is ok, but a dead or dying battery may be at fault. (Taking the solar light assembly into a dark closet and seeing if the light comes on may be necessary, as sometimes a finger does not cover the light sensor sufficiently to prevent light from coming in to the sensor.)
-The typical solar light has 1 or 2 AA size rechargeable batteries, typically nickel cadmium (“Nicad”).
-Replace the battery or batteries with similar AA size rechargeable batteries. Nickel metal hydride (“Nimh”) batteries will last longer than the cheaper Nicads. These batteries should be readily available at Walmart or other stores.
If the solar light IS on during bright daylight, the solar cell is working and the batteries are probably ok, but the light sensor is not working.
-To make the light sensor work again, if it is not working due to the plastic covering the light sensor becoming opaque from exposure to sun and weather, break off the offending plastic covering the sensor.
-A small flat blade screwdriver or knife blade works. Remove the opaque plastic covering the sensor by using the screwdriver or knife from the side of the plastic, taking off the plastic in bits to avoid damaging the sensor itself.
-Test the operation of the sensor by observing if the solar light now goes out when the solar cell assembly is in bright sunlight, and the light goes on when in darkness. (Take the solar cell assembly into a closet or cover the sensor with a finger to simulate darkness. The closet method is more certain, as sometimes the finger method does not work due to light still coming in to the sensor despite the finger covering it.)
-It will be necessary to re cover the light sensor to protect it from rain and other weather elements.
-This can be done with e.g. clear plastic “scotch” or packing tape covering the sensor.
-Instead of using tape, covering just the sensor to protect it from weather may also be done with clear silicone sealer. (Have not tried this. The clear silicone sealer is extremely long lasting and weatherproof, but as it cures, it goes from transparent to translucent white. It is not known if this change in appearance of the silicone sealer will prevent the sensor from doing its job of telling daylight from darkness. If silicone sealer does not work, it can be removed, and tape used instead. Silicone sealer is readily available at Walmart and Home Depot and other stores.)
-If you have tried silicone sealer, please post a comment so we’ll all know if it works or doesn’t work. :-)
If the light does not light in light or darkness even with fresh batteries, the sensor may need to be replaced.
To replace the sensor, please go to http://www.alternativetechnology.info/solarrepair.htm
-After fixing the sensor operation, it may be necessary to recharge the depleted battery from outside the solar light, or just wait several days to see if the solar cell recharges the battery. It may be necessary to replace the batteries if they no longer hold a charge.
Correct operation will reveal that the solar light is not on during bright daylight, but is on at night.
Congratulations, you fixed it!