Why do my Solar Lights Stay on During the Day?

Updated/Fact-Chacked on May 4, 2023 by Gareth James

Solar lamps or solar lights use a lighting system with an LED lamp, battery, controller, and solar panels. The idea of these devices is to convert sunlight to energy, which is then used to light dark spaces at night. 

Sometimes solar lights just stay on for no reason or don’t come on at all; this has been happening with a couple of mine – see the image below.  I’ve noticed that all these cheap solar lights don’t last more than a year.  Once I spent a little more and bought solar lights with a dedicated solar panel, I had no more issues.

solar lights in my border
This solar light was staying on during the day then not coming on at all

This article will help you figure out the problem and how you can fix it.

Solar Light Problems – Easy to Fix

Not Enough Sunlight

One factor that affects the functionality of solar lights is where they are placed. They need to receive and store enough sunlight to convert it to energy – which can be difficult in the UK!  If they don’t have enough power, they can stay on as the light sensor does not have enough power to know its daytime.

Change the location of the lights, especially during different seasons where direct sunlight can be either strong or weak.  Find the area of your garden that receives maximum sunlight and place the lights or solar panels there.

There’s Water Inside

Since some solar lights are placed in backyards where they endure heavy rainfalls and high humidity levels, water penetration is a disturbing problem that causes malfunctions.

water inside solar light

To solve this, carefully dismantle the light, dry it off, ensure the sensor isn’t wet, and put the light back together. Leave it for a few days to dry completely and then test the results.

High-Level Light Sensitivity

Since solar lights distinguish between light and darkness instead of day and night, if light sensitivity settings are set high, this might cause unstable functioning.

The sensor might misinterpret the slightest shadow and turn on automatically. In this case, just make sure you set the light back to its appropriate settings.

Dirty Light Sensor

When dirt or dust particles coat the sensor, they make it almost impossible to tell day from night. 

Carefully clean the sensor with a damp cloth and dry it off before reassembling it. However, for bigger lights, you might want to get professional help.

Challenging Problems

Faulty Sensor

Sensors break over time for various reasons, some of which might be avoidable and others not. If you tried all the previous hacks to restore your solar lights to functionality, but they weren’t useful, you’ll need to replace the sensor. 

If the rest of the lamp is in good condition, replacing the sensor will be a cost-effective and practical solution to stop your solar light from coming on during the day.

Faulty Battery

Over time, the overall performance of batteries declines. This might cause problems when the battery stays on during the day or doesn’t hold a long charge. In either case, you need to buy new, suitable batteries.

If you tried everything, but your light lamps still come on during the daytime, you should consider replacing the batteries before getting rid of the lamp altogether.

Solar Light FAQS

Why did my solar light stop working?

Solar lights may stop working for various reasons, including a dead battery, dirty solar panels, a damaged LED or sensor, or a malfunctioning controller board. Troubleshoot by checking for obstructions, cleaning the solar panel, and ensuring the light sensor isn’t blocked.

Can you replace the batteries in solar lights?

Yes, most solar lights have replaceable batteries. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific battery type and how to access the battery compartment.

How long do solar garden lights last?

Solar garden lights typically last between 2-4 years, depending on the quality, environmental conditions, and usage. The LED bulbs can last for 50,000 hours or more, while the rechargeable batteries may need replacement after 1-2 years.

How can I make my solar lights work again?

To make solar lights work again, try cleaning the solar panel, replacing the batteries, or resetting the light. Ensure the light sensor isn’t obstructed and that the solar panel is positioned to receive optimal sunlight.

How do you reset a solar light?

To reset a solar light, turn it off and leave it in direct sunlight for a few hours to recharge. Then, turn it back on. Some solar lights may also have a reset button, which you can press to restore factory settings.

Do solar lights burn out?

Solar lights don’t “burn out” like traditional incandescent bulbs, but their LEDs can become less efficient over time. Other components, such as the rechargeable battery, may also degrade and need replacement.

How do you charge solar lights without sun?

To charge solar lights without sun, place them under a bright artificial light source, such as an LED or fluorescent light. This method is less efficient than direct sunlight, but it can help when sunlight is insufficient.

Can you use normal AA batteries in solar lights?

Using regular AA batteries in solar lights is not recommended, as they may not provide the required voltage and could damage the light. Instead, use the recommended rechargeable batteries, usually NiMH or NiCd batteries, which are designed for solar lights.

Should I remove batteries from solar lights in winter?

It’s a good idea to remove batteries from solar lights during winter if you live in an area with extreme cold, as this can prolong battery life. Store the batteries in a cool, dry place until the weather improves.

Should garden solar lights be left out in the winter?

Garden solar lights can be left out in winter, but their performance may be affected by reduced sunlight and low temperatures. If you’re concerned about the durability of your lights or battery life, consider bringing them indoors during the coldest months.

Will solar lights work in winter?

Solar lights can work in winter, but their performance may be diminished due to shorter days, reduced sunlight, and cold temperatures. Ensure the solar panel is clean and positioned to receive as much sunlight as possible. You may need to adjust the angle or location of the solar panel to optimize exposure.

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