Troubleshooting Guide: Solar Deck Lights
You found the perfect solar light and now you are having difficulty getting the light to work properly. Despite the simplicity of the design, they can develop problems or require maintenance. The good news is that most of the problems are easy to troubleshoot and correct. DecksDirect.com has created this troubleshooting guide to assist in the process of determining what may or may not be the problem.
1. Is the light panel turned on?
Many solar lights have an On/Off switch. Verify the lighting is turned to the “On” position. To reset the light panel, turn the switch to the “Off” position and return to the “On” position. You need to cover the ENTIRE solar collector to test the unit.
2. Are the batteries not working?
The most common problem with solar lighting is the batteries that are supplied with the product. Before you received the light, the solar unit and its batteries may have been sitting in a dark box for several months. Depending upon the amount of light the unit receives upon being installed, it can take up to three weeks for the unit and batteries to cycle to full capacity. To test if the problem is from the solar unit or from the batteries, temporarily replace the two AA NiCad batteries with two AA alkaline batteries. You need to cover the ENTIRE solar collector to test the unit. If the LED light turns on, the NiCad batteries will either need to be replaced or the unit may need more time under sunlight to charge the batteries to full capacity. *NEVER use alkaline batteries permanently in a solar unit. This will void the manufactures warranty and can cause damage to the light. How long should I expect the batteries to last? The batteries supplied in the unit from the manufacture, may only last 6-24 months. New replacement NiCad rechargeable batteries should operate for approximately 1000 cycles (nearly 3 years).
3. Are the batteries in the correct direction?
It may seems simple, but product have been known to ship with the batteries installed in the reverse direction. Verify the batteries are installed tightly in the correct direction. Typically, the light panel will have (+) and (-) markings to verify the correct direction for the batteries. Ensure the markings on the battery are aligned with the markings on the solar unit. If no markings are found on the unit, the smooth/flat end of the battery should be placed in contact with the spring of the solar unit. The end of the battery with the “knob” should be placed in contact with smooth/flat clip of the solar unit contact.
4. Is the solar panel receiving enough light during the day?
If the solar panel is not receiving enough sunlight, the performance of the unit will be affected. Ensure that the solar panel is in an optimum position to receive the maximum amount of sunlight. Cloudy days and the time of the year may affect and alter the performance of the unit. To test if the unit is not receiving enough light, remove the fixture from its current location and temporarily place the unit in the most optimal location for the maximum amount of direct sunlight for 2-3 days.
5. Is the fixture in a dark spot at night?
Is the solar unit installed in a location that receives ambient light from another source? If the solar unit is located near another light source ( patio/house light, spot light, another fixture, etc.), the unit’s photocell will not switch the light on or it may turn on and off sporadically.
6. What type of batteries should be used with solar lighting?
All of the solar lighting sold from DecksDirect.com require AA – Rechargeable NiCad Batteries (nickel-cadmium). If available, DecksDirect.com recommends 600-900 mAh type batteries for long lasting solar panels. NiCad batteries can be found at most specialty hardware stores, specialty battery stores or from DecksDirect.com. Beware: You do NOT want to use NiMH Rechargeable Batteries (Nickel Metal Hydride). NiMH are typically used for electronics.