This is our guide on how to make solar lights last longer.
You might not have noticed, but the humble solar light has rapidly become a staple of modern America.
Step outside for an evening stroll and it’s almost impossible to avoid the gentle glow of solar lights illuminating flowerbeds, garden paths, yards, and parks.
Such is their prevalence, in fact, that it’s likely you have a collection of solar lights illuminating your outdoor area as we speak. Moreover, as a result, you’re probably also aware of how expensive they can be.
So, environmental benefits aside (though not discounted), this begs the question, does solar lighting last long enough to represent value for money?
In short, the answer is “yes” but only if they run for long enough. So, how do you help your solar lights last longer?
To answer this question, we’ve put our heads together to assemble the 9 best tips for prolonging the life of your solar lights.
So, read on; you might just find a bright idea.
How Long Do Solar Lights Last?
Like all technology, solar lighting contains numerous components that have the potential to break down and degrade over time. That being said, as primarily outdoor technology, solar lights are designed to be durable, so they might last longer than you’d expect.
For example, LEDs, or “light-emitting diodes”, which are the parts of your solar lights that glow, can last for between 10 -30 years.
Likewise, other components such as the external structure of the lights can be very hard-wearing if cared for properly; a factor we’ll discuss later on in this article.
However, one aspect of solar lighting that has an inherently shorter lifespan, is the battery. Lasting up to about 4 years, your solar light will initially persist as long as the battery does, before dimming into disuse.
Never fear, however, solar energy batteries are easy and affordable to replace.
Should Solar Lights Last Forever?
While their source of energy is, of course, infinite, realistically, no solar lights can, or will, last forever.
Yes, they’re designed to endure the variability of outdoor conditions, but, like a pair of old, tough boots, they will eventually need replacing.
For that reason, if you live in an area that experiences cold winters, we find it’s a good idea to store your solar lights indoors during such periods to protect them from the ice, frost, and snow.
Hence, with the proper care and attention, most solar lights can last for many, many years and a high-quality set can represent a very eco-friendly and economical investment.
Top Tips To Make Solar Lights Last Longer
1: Find The Right Solar Lights
Finding the right solar lights for your needs can be the difference between your set lasting for a decade or merely a few months. Likewise, it can determine between making an expensive mistake or a shrewd investment.
Therefore, our team recommends that you consider a few factors when researching your new lights. For example,
- Where will you place your lights?
- Will they receive a lot of sunlight or is their intended location shaded?
- What size area must your lights illuminate?
- What is the climate like in your area?
Lights with a larger, more efficient solar panel might generate enough power in areas that receive less direct sunlight and will also illuminate a larger area more successfully.
2: Keep Your Solar Lights Clean
It sounds obvious, but clean solar lights last longer.
As an outdoor device, your solar lights will invariably accumulate dirt, dust, and grime from the environment which, if left unattended, will eventually infiltrate and corrode the system.
Furthermore, to operate at optimum efficiency and collect enough energy, your light’s solar panels can’t afford to have a layer of debris obscuring the sunlight.
Likewise, a layer of grime covering the light itself will, of course, result in dim lighting, and reduce its usefulness.
So keep them clean!
3: Install Your Solar Lights In An Open Space
Another way to help your solar lights last is to position them in an open space.
Why? Because open space equals more sunlight and charging the battery fully reduces the risk of the battery’s storage capacity starting to wane.
Additionally, if your lights can accumulate enough power, they can shine brighter and illuminate your outdoor area more effectively; what is their purpose if not that!?
So, when positioning your lights, make sure you place them in an area with no overhanging bushes, no shady corners, no street lighting, and certainly not under a veranda.
Your solar lights worship the sun, so give it to them.
4: Ensure Your Solar Light Settings Are Correct
We can’t overstate the importance of this. Making sure your lights are on the correct setting enhances both your enjoyment and their lifespan.
How so? Because choosing the wrong setting can cause the battery to degrade more quickly.
Each time a rechargeable battery is depleted, it loses a modicum of capacity.
Thus, leaving your lights to shine bright on their highest setting permanently will cause the battery to deplete more rapidly and accelerate the degradation process.
5: Protect Your Solar Panels From Freezing Temperatures
As we mentioned briefly above, cold temperatures are the enemy of your solar lights.
Not only will the lack of sunlight linked to colder climes leave your light’s batteries in a prolonged state of weakness, but the damaging forces of frost, ice, and snow can warp their inner workings.
Thus, it’s best to store your solar panels and lights indoors during periods of extreme weather conditions.
Simply turn them off, remove the batteries and keep them in a dry place.
6: Turn Them Off When Not Needed
Let’s face it, your solar lights are for you to enjoy when you’re outside in warm, dry weather. Happily, such pleasant conditions usually coincide with more sunlight and thus healthier solar lights.
On the contrary, consistent exposure to poor light levels will leave your light’s batteries in a weakened state and, eventually, the strain of not harnessing enough energy can contribute to their degradation.
So, if you’re experiencing more rain than normal, it’s better to play safe and switch them off if you can.
7: Pick The Right Bulbs For Your Solar Lights
While solar lights are at the forefront of a lighting revolution, they still require many of the more traditional methods of care. More specifically, it’s important to purchase the right bulbs for your lights.
Now, it’s worth stating that if your lights contain LEDs, then this shouldn’t be a problem. However, for any other bulb, the higher the wattage, the faster you’ll use up your battery power.
Finding a low-to-medium wattage will help your solar lights last.
8: Keep Away From Artificial Light
While artificial light from traditional, incandescent home lighting can charge most solar lights to a certain extent, they aren’t really suitable.
As a matter of fact, prolonged exposure to strong, artificial light, such as street lighting, will actually weaken your solar lights over time, accelerating the degradation of your batteries.
Hence, if you store your solar lights inside, make sure to switch them off, and during use outdoors, try to keep them as far away from artificial light as possible.
9: Replace Old Or Corroded Solar Light Batteries
Earlier, we discussed that solar light batteries have a lifespan of about 4 years when cared for properly. However, when they do finally start to wane, it’s important to replace them as soon as possible.
Leaving failing batteries in your solar lights can have detrimental effects on the internal system and, if left long enough, will start to corrode, damaging the internal components and structure further.
So swap them out as soon as you spot them. It’s cheap and easy.
Will Solar Lights Last Longer In Sunny Countries?
Solar lights won’t necessarily last longer in sunny countries.
Admittedly, with more consistent exposure to direct sunlight, the general condition of a solar battery will remain optimal for longer than those exposed to more changeable conditions.
What’s more, in locations that experience long Winters (and thus require longer storage periods), the batteries within the lights are liable to need more regular changing.
However, as lights in sunny countries are likely to be used all year round, they might well reach the end of their overall lifespan faster than those that are overwintered.
Ultimately, though, the main factor that influences the lifespan of solar lighting is maintenance.
Applying the proper practices, subjective to climate and use, will prolong their lifespan no matter what your location.
Where Do I Find Replacement Batteries For Solar Lights?
You can find replacement batteries for your solar lights online or in-store at any good electronics dealer.
How Long Do Most Solar Lights Take To Charge?
The majority of solar lights take between 4 – 12 hours to reach a full charge.
This is influenced by numerous variables, including the intensity of the sunlight, the positioning of the solar panels, the age of the batteries, and the cleanliness of the panels.