Why Are My Solar Lights Not Working and How to Fix Them?

Why Are My Solar Lights Not Working and How to Fix Them.

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Solar lights are a great addition to any garden but sometimes they can stop working. One of the most infuriating questions in this situation is Why Are My Solar Lights Not Working?

To help you figure out why your solar lights aren’t working and how you can fix them we’ve put together a list of some of the most common problems along with a list of some great solutions.

Why Are My Solar Lights Not Working?

Solar lights are simple in design and so luckily there are only a few things that can go wrong.

Hopefully, your solar lights may not be working because of something fairly simple which is easy to fix. Obviously, all things have a natural lifespan and so there are instances where your lights may just be past the point of no return.

Before you start to try and diagnose the problem, check that your lights aren’t working by placing your hand over the solar panel. Solar garden lights are normally activated when low light or no light is detected.

Solar lights can be fooled into turning on by simply placing your hand over the solar panel.

If your solar light doesn’t come on, you have a problem!

The following list of common issues and fixes may highlight why your solar lights have stopped working and how you can fix them.

1) They are Turned Off!

Some, not all solar lights have an on and off switch. Now we know that this may seem obvious but there are a couple of scenarios where you may need to check the switch.

Firstly if you’ve only just got your solar garden lights, you are going to want to make sure that they are turned on.

Secondly, if the are other people in your household you may find that someone else has turned your solar lights off without telling you.

Finally, on and off switches can be knocked by accident during fitting. This is especially apparent on some solar decking lights which have switched that can be flicked by accident when they are pushed into place.

First and foremost on the list of why your solar lights may not be working is that they may be switched off.

How to Fix – Turn the switch on.

2) The PIR is Set Too Low

If you have a security-type solar garden light with a PIR function, check to make sure it is not set too low. A PIR set low will prevent the light from coming on unless movement is detected almost right in front of the light.

How to Fix – Check the PIR setting and if it is low, set it closer to high. If you are not sure whether it is set at low or high simply switch it to the opposite end of the dial to check if your lights now work.

3) The Solar Panel Doesnt get Enough Light

If your lights have been working well for some time, you may find that this issue is not applicable however always check that your lights have enough light.

Although they don’t need to be in direct sunlight, they do need sufficient light to charge. New lights may need a brighter area and charging can be hampered by shading.

You may think that your solar garden lights have enough sunlight but it’s worth trying them in a sunnier location if they stop working. You may not realise how shaded the location is or has become due to growing plants.

How to Fix – Put your solar lights in a sunny location to see if they’ve been getting enough light to charge fully.

4) The Light’s Solar Panel is Dirty or Damaged

As we mentioned previously, solar lights need sufficient sunlight in order to charge and therefore work properly.

A solar garden light with a dirty or damaged solar panel will not work properly. This could mean your solar light does not work for long, or it may not work at all.

A solar panel is required to charge the battery within the light. If the panel does not work properly then the battery will not charge sufficiently to keep the light working.

How to Fix – Check your solar panel for damage. If it is damaged, chipped, or broken, you can buy replacement panels. If you don’t see any damage but your panel is dirty then wipe it with a damp cloth.
More stubborn dirt can be removed with a soft brush but remember not to damage the panel.

5) The Batteries are Dead, Damaged or Loose

As we’ve already mentioned, solar lights have a battery inside. These rechargeable batteries store the energy created by the solar panel which is then used by the lamp in order to create light when it is dark.

There are three types of batteries that can be used in solar lights, NiMH, NiCd, and Li-ion batteries.

The most common of these that are used in garden solar lights are NiMH batteries. On average, solar batteries last somewhere between 1 and 4 years depending upon how they are charged, the quality of the battery, and how often they are discharged.

Batteries that are worn out may not charge properly and may therefore not keep the light on for long periods of time if at all.

Old worn-out batteries can also leak, which can cause damage to the internal parts of your solar light.

It’s also worth checking to make sure that the battery connections are touching and haven’t moved or come loose.

If you’re unsure if there is a problem with the battery, try connecting up a regular battery. If the light works then you know this is definitely the problem.

How to Fix – If the connections are not loose or not touching the battery then this must be reconnected. If your battery is dead, find a replacement battery of the same type, size, and power. Do not be tempted to try and get a better or more powerful battery. A straightforward replacement is best as the other components in the light may not work with more power.

6) Loose Wires

A loose wire is clearly not a good thing. Any loose wire in your solar light will mean that there’s a problem.

If you open the light and you see a loose wire, you’re going to have to try and fix it.

How to Fix – If you’ve opened light and found a loose wire, you may not know where it has come from. Most solar lights do not come on their own. If you have another light, open it up and have a look inside. You may easily find where it should connect and can then reconnect it with the use of a soldering iron.

8) Water Logged Lights

Although most garden solar lights are water and weather resistant, over time, rubber seals can perish which then allows water to ingress.

We all know that water and electricity don’t mix well and the same can be said for solar lights. Sometimes excess water inside a solar light can damage internal wiring and circuitry which will prevent the light from working.

How to Fix – Take the light apart and allow the contents to dry out. If once dry, the light works use a small bead of silicone to seal the light and keep it watertight.

9) It’s Not Dark Enough

Surprisingly sometimes it’s not dark enough for the solar lights to come on. If there is another light source close to the solar light, the sensor will prevent solar light from coming on.

Other light sources can include, house lights, street lights, garage lights, and other outdoor lights.

How to Fix – If your light comes on with the cover test, you may wish to turn other lights off to test or simply move your light to an alternative location.


If you’ve worked your way through our list and are still none the wiser, there are a couple of things you need to consider.

Firstly, if your lights are new we’d always suggest that you turn the solar light off and fully charge it by placing it in direct sunlight for a couple of days. If it fails to work you may just have a faulty light and you should return it for a replacement or refund.

Secondly, not everything lasts forever. Unfortunately, your solar lights may just be past the point of no return and you may have to consider buying yourself some new lights.

If this is the case, we suggest you pop on over to our shop to have a look at some of the best garden solar lights on the market.