Coal, gas, and fossil fuel was once our primary source of generating power and energy. However, times have thankfully changed and scientists have been researching other alternative energy sources, and solar energy has been one of the most promising leads yet. Solar panels and lights have now become a part of our daily conversations and we can name a lot of people in our social and professional circles who make use of solar-powered equipment or solar panels.
Solar lights are one such example. As the name suggests, a solar light is a solar-powered lighting system that comprises a battery, an LED bulb or light, a charge controller and, solar panels. The solar panel harnesses the necessary energy and that energy is converted into electricity, stored, and then periodically taken from the batteries. This is a simple setup and it is a great way to replace other outdoor lights and is eco-friendlier as well. Plus, you are essentially generating free electricity in the long-run, saving you money as well.
Sadly solar lights aren’t always working as efficiently and there are moments where it runs into problems and can fail us. You need not panic when this happens, and you should instead try to find a workaround and see if you can fix the problem. If you are interested in knowing how you can tackle and fix this situation, you can keep on reading below:
How Do Solar Lights Work?
Being able to understand how solar lights are set up and function will help you better understand how to deal with their issues when do arise. A solar light can work because of the photovoltaic effect, a phenomenon which is only possible because of photovoltaic cells that are found in the panels. Photovoltaic material comprises a mix of certain chemicals and crystalline silicone which is arranged in layers.
Once sunlight hits the photovoltaic cells, the layers of crystalline silicone release several electrons (negatively charged) and as well as positively charged ones too. Sunlight, when absorbed by the solar cell ends up causing the electrons that are negatively charged to become excited, which then makes them flow and move towards the spaces that are positively charged. These electrons then move through the space of the photovoltaic cell and towards the battery where this electricity will then be stored until it is needed for use. The battery itself is charged from sunlight, and when there is no sunlight, the photovoltaic works to convert all stored energy into the light which then illuminates and acts as your solar light. If you are wondering how the solar lights turn on automatically, then you can credit that to the photoreceptors that are present as well. Once the photoreceptors detect darkness, then the solar cell lights turn on.
Where The Problem Starts
The solar light and cell setup seem pretty simple and straightforward, but it can still be vulnerable to problems and can at times stop working. You should not panic when this happens, and if anything, you should expect it to happen now and then. There are many reasons why your solar cell might not be working and this includes and is not limited to:
This is pretty obvious but if your solar light is not receiving enough sunlight, it will not have enough energy to work, and this will cause it to stop working or your solar light will only work for a short duration of time. Solving this problem is pretty simple and all you have to do is put your solar panel in a spot where it can receive ample and direct sunlight. To get the most out of your solar light, your solar panel/solar cell should be under direct sunlight for at least 5 hours to charge every day. This will allow your solar light to have enough energy to make it through the night.
Unclean Solar Panel
Your solar cells can also stop working or work inefficiently if your solar panel is not clean enough. If your solar lights are placed outdoors, that means your solar panel is outside as well, and when you keep anything outside for long, the dust, debris, and dirt in the air and surroundings will slowly start accumulating on the surface of the solar panel, and this affects the solar cell’s efficiency since it is not able to absorb sunlight entirely. So wiping your solar panels every other day will dramatically solve this problem and reduce the likelihood of your solar panels working inefficiently. This will also help to increase the overall running life of your solar panel as well.
The photoreceptor or sensor is a major part of your solar light’s setup. The photoreceptor or sensor, as we mentioned above, is responsible for detecting and reacting to darkness. It directs the battery to give electricity when it detects darkness, and if your sensor is ineffective or causing your trouble, your solar light will not be able to detect when it is day or night time.
To see if your sensor is causing issues, you should place a cloth or your hand over it; if the light turns on this way, it means the sensor is working but if it does not, then you might need to change the sensor or your battery.
A common mistake and occurrence when it comes to problems with solar lights are battery problems, and this is especially common with new batteries. When you first buy batteries for your solar cell, you have to make sure that the battery is fully charged the first time before using it. This requires placing the solar panel under direct sunlight. You will then wait an additional 24 hours before you can start using this battery. If the issue still fails to resolve itself, then you should take the battery to the vendor and have it looked at.
Your solar light setup will also come with a button or two. These buttons exist to help you better operate your solar light system. The pull button for one needs to be removed before you can turn on your solar light, and if you fail to remove this button, your solar light will not operate or function at full capacity. So take a look and see if your solar light setup comes with a pull button, and in case it does, you need to make sure that it is removed.
Finding Backup Options
Fooling Your Panel
Your solar light stops the conversion and storage process once the photosensor detects darkness in its surrounding. One way to deal with this issue is by placing a cover or cloth over the sensor to make it think that it is now dark, and in turn produce light. Your solar light will now start working since it has been fooled into thinking that it is night time. By changing the position or location of your solar panel, you can help your solar panel improve its overall functioning.
Tinkering With The Batteries
We have already talked about the central role of the batteries in the overall solar light set up. The batteries used for solar lights are rechargeable and can last you 2 years, however, cheaper variants will hardly make it through a year without needing a replacement.
We know that the battery only stores solar energy during the daytime, and becomes active and starts working at the night. However, if you are noticing that your battery is not charged enough and runs out quickly, then you might need to adjust and tinker with them a bit. If that does not help either, then it is probably time to bid your batteries adieu and get a replacement set.
Your solar lights will be at their best performance if your setup is getting enough light and is being adequately charged. However, if you are giving your solar lights 5 hours to charge outside but are still noticing a dip in its performance, then it is likely that your panel faced a shadow. So you have to make sure your solar light is placed outside under direct sunlight with no room for being blocked by shadows. If your solar panel has a shadow lingering over it, then it will not be able to absorb as much sunlight and lead to inadequate energy being stored.
We have talked about the importance of positioning your solar lights under direct sunlight, and another thing that you do need to keep in mind is how you angle your solar light set up as well. Clouds and other obstructions can happen, and this is why a lot of experts recommend adjusting your solar light set up to a forty-five-degree angle. A 45-degree angle will ensure that your solar panel can get the most amount of sunlight on all of its corners and lead to an improvement in overall efficiency and performance.
If you think about it, a solar panel, like a satellite dish, will work at its best when it is positioned and facing the correct direction. Placing your panel towards the Southside will help it get the most amount of sun from dawn till dusk. So, placing your solar panel towards the West will help you get the most performance out of it. Yes, you can place it in other directions, but it will not be working at its best in those situations.
A good solar light should be waterproof, and a lot of higher rating solar lights are waterproof, but at the same time, a lot of others are not able to work as efficiently and get their performance disrupted when they end up being exposed to water. If your solar panel or solar light has been exposed to or has taken in water, you will need to place it under sunlight to first get rid of the wetness and excess water. After this is done, you should check the battery to make sure that it has not been damaged by the water, and in case of water damage, the batteries will need to be changed. However, if your batteries are okay, you should be back to using your solar lights soon.
The Lux sensor is a part of the solar light set up that detects and gauges how dark it has gotten. The Lux sensor is essentially responsible for making sure the light gets turned on once it does get to night time. This is why the Lux sensor needs to be inspected now and then to make sure that your solar light is working correctly and efficiently. You can place a hand or cover over the sensor and see whether or not the solar light turns on. If it turns out without fail, your sensor is fine. If it does not work, then your sensor is not working properly and will probably need to be looked at by a professional.
We have managed to cover potential problems that you can run into when it comes to your solar light, how you can determine where the problem lies, and how you can fix and troubleshoot the problems that you might face when it comes to your solar lights. Your solar lights will run into issues now and then, so you need not worry. As long as you stay calm and go through this checklist, you should be able to correctly diagnose and fix the problem every time.
Yes, solar lights might sound a bit tedious, but they are a great way to introduce yourself to solar panels and solar energy, and hopefully motivate you to slowly make the transition towards solar power. Global warming and climate change are real, and if you want to play a role in reversing it, reducing your fossil fuel consumption and switching over to clean electricity can help you do just that. So start calling solar energy companies in your area and learn how you can make a change by switching to solar power today. We might as well start acting now before it is too late.