With increasing electricity prices and people utilising their outdoor spaces more, it’s not surprising that many households are switching to garden solar lights but just how long do solar lights take to charge?
Most modern solar lights will take 4-8 hours of daylight to fully charge depending upon the battery and solar panel size.
How Long do Solar Lights Take to Charge?
Although most solar lights take between 4 and 8 hours to charge the time does vary depending upon the type and size of the battery along with the size of the solar panel.
When looking at buying solar lights for your garden you must look at the average charging time and the amount of time the light will last for when it gets dark. This is normally displayed within the specifications of the light.
Remember that you want your solar lights to last a long time so you can get the most out of them. Although there are many cheap lights on the market if you spend more initially you’ll reap the benefits in the long run.
How to Charge Solar Lights for the First Time?
When you first unbox your solar lights you’ll probably be excited to get going and see how your lights perform however you’ll need to wait just a little longer before you do.
It is not recommended to use garden solar lights immediately after unboxing. Most manufacturers recommend that you fully charge your lights before use.
This means ideally you need to charge them in direct sunlight for at least 8 hours to ensure that they are fully charged. Don’t forget that each manufacturer has different specifications on how long to leave them charging so make sure you read the instructions.
Do Solar Lights Need to be Switched on to Charge?
Surprisingly some solar lights do not have to be switched on in order to charge. If this is the case, with the ones you intend to buy, we’d recommend leaving them switched off for the first charge as you’ll find that they will charge faster.
Will the Location Affect Solar Light Charging?
Solar garden lights will charge best if they are positioned in direct sunlight. They will still charge in areas where there is no direct sunlight but the more sunlight the better.
When choosing an installation spot for your solar lights you need to think carefully. Go out into the garden at various points during the day and see where the sun is landing in your garden.
The optimum direction for solar panels to face in the UK is South, so if you can have yours facing south, there’s a good chance your lights will charge better.
Just because you have sunlight in a particular area at 9 am doesn’t mean that it will benefit from direct sunlight at 10 am, 11 am, or later on during the day.
Obviously many gardens won’t have sunlight all day every day but ideally, you want to maximise the light’s exposure to the sun.
In addition to this, you also need to look at whether the spot you choose will suffer dramatically from shadowing from buildings, tall trees, and other obstacles.
It’s also worth considering different times of the year. In winter the sun’s path is much lower than in the summer. This means that you may not get as much sun on your lights as you would in the summer.
What About the Angle of Solar Lights?
Along with the location, try to think about the design of your solar lights. as this can also affect how well it charges.
In the UK, the best angle for solar panel energy production is 30-45 degrees so ideally, you want a solar light with a panel within this range.
Obviously, you also want your lights to look good, so if you choose a light with a flat panel on top, as long as you site your lights in a good location they will be fine but if you want the best out of your lights try and get a light with an angled panel.
Two very good lights with angled panels include many solar security lights and solar string lights which have a separate solar panel on a spike. Both of these have an angled panel which makes them perfect for capturing the sun’s rays.
Can You Charge Solar Lights Without Sun?
We’ll cover this in more depth in our How to Charge Solar Lights Without the Sun, but in simple terms yes you can.
Solar lights will charge without direct sunlight so don’t worry about those days when there is little sun.
If you are that desperate for them to charge then you can simply move the lights but it’s just a dull day, there is no point moving them.
Solar lights have receptors inside that are fairly good. They can capture sunlight irrespective of how little there is which means that even on dull cloudy days they will charge to a certain extent.
All that this means is that our lights may not last as long in the evening as they normally would.
Can You Charge Solar Lights Inside?
It’s a question that comes up from time to time and the answer is yes.
Obviously depending upon the glass you have in your window, the amount of sunlight that comes inside can be substantially reduced from being outside but as we’ve said, solar lights do not need direct sunlight to charge.
Therefore having your solar lights inside will still mean that they charge, just not as well as if they were outside.
What if My Solar Lights Stop Charging?
There are a number of reasons why your solar lights may stop charging. Many of these are covered in our Why Are My Solar Lights Not Working and How to Fix Them article.
If your lights are old then the most common reason is likely to be that the batteries are not charging anymore.
Like all things in life, batteries will not last forever and will have to be replaced from time to time. Saying that the average solar light battery will last between 2 and 4 years.
Please note, solar lights have rechargeable batteries and so you won’t be able to simply replace them with a standard AA. solar rechargeable batteries can be bought online but make sure you replace them with the same type.
Take a look at our Solar Light Batteries and How to Replace Them article for more.
Clean Your Lights
The other main reason for solar lights failing to charge properly is that they are dirty. A dirty solar panel will be incredibly inefficient.
Dirt on a panel is just as bad as having it shaded by a tree, house, or even covered as the solar panel will find it difficult to use the sun’s rays.
As a guide, we’d recommend wiping your solar lights off at least once a month. Don’t forget, just because you can’t see dirt on the panel doesn’t mean that there isn’t any!
Solar lights do take some time to charge but they also last quite a long time.
With the advancement of strong LED bulbs, solar lights are much brighter than they were years ago and therefore produce much more power on less of a charge.
When buying your solar lights, please don’t just go for the look! Yes, you want your lights to be attractive, but they will soon become annoying if they do not produce as much light or last as long as you would like.
If you haven’t bought any solar lights yet, take a look at our online shop.