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DaiToday

@mindspring.com

Repairing solar lights after battery replacement failed

I replaced the batteries in 6 solar landscape lights this year, but 3 out of 6 lights failed to work. The 3 working ones are going strong. I have disassembled one of the failing lights to see if there was a loss wire, but all wires appear soldered or glued securely in place. What else do I check at this time? I don't have a multimeter...do I need to get one to check each wire?


cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
You won't be able to do any troubleshooting without a multimeter. I'd check the batteries as well, not so much the wires.


DaiToday

@mindspring.com
reply to DaiToday
DaiToday@mindspring.com is actually @earthlink.net.


DaiToday

@mindspring.com
reply to cowboyro
Batteries are new. I bought them from Battery Plus, and the three lights that weren't working before the battery change are the same three that aren't working after the new battery change. The other three are staying lit longer with the battery replacement. Just wish the remaining three would have worked, too. Therefore, it's a problem beyond the battery itself. I did notice moisture and dead bugs inside the housing of the one I took apart. If checking with a multimeter, what am I looking for? Appreciate the help...


tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
If it didn't work before and still doesn't after you changed batteries there is something wrong with either the PV array itself or more likely the charging circuit.

/tom


neonhomer
KK4BFN
Premium
join:2004-01-27
Edgewater, FL
Reviews:
·Bright House
reply to DaiToday
If you have a multimeter, I would check the output of the solar cell to make sure there is power being provided to charge the batteries.

You could also swap in a set of charged batteries to see if the lights even work.

If you are getting power from the solar cell, and the light doesn't work, then you might have a bad sensor, or a bad bulb. Some of those solar lights have replaceable bulbs. The LED ones are disposable.
--
"F is for Fire that burns down the whole town...
U is for Uranium...... Bombs...
N is for NO SURVIVORS!!!!!" Sheldon Plankton


SmokChsr
Who let the magic smoke out?
Premium
join:2006-03-17
Saint Augustine, FL
reply to DaiToday
I don't know if your's are the same as the ones I have but they have driven me crazy trying to keep them working. The common problems I've found are:

The battery contact will move and break contact with the battery.

The lights that get full sunlight, tend to not work while those in partial shade do. This leads me to think that the charge circuit will shut down if too much voltage or current is coming from the cell.

The solar lights are quite cheaply made.

public

join:2002-01-19
Santa Clara, CA
said by SmokChsr:

The common problems I've found are:

The battery contact will move and break contact with the battery.

The lights that get full sunlight, tend to not work while those in partial shade do. This leads me to think that the charge circuit will shut down if too much voltage or current is coming from the cell.
The made in China crap is simply not rated for outdoor use. Contacts corrode from water ingress, thermal cycling breaks dubious solder joints, poor quality batteries are not properly charged.
Why do you think these would work?


aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..
reply to DaiToday
You have to have a multimeter to troubleshoot it.
HarborFreight has one that's occasionally available for as little as $1.99. (regularly $7.99, I think)

Likely failures in no particular order:
a) contact/solder joint
b) PV panel
c) voltage regulator
--
And the winner is:


Hayward
K A R - 1 2 0 C
Premium
join:2000-07-13
Key West, FL
kudos:1
reply to DaiToday
Have you just tried swapping the batteries from the working ones?

Might have just gotten some bad ones.
--
»haywardm.com (Hayward's Key West)


DaiToday

@mindspring.com
reply to DaiToday
Thank you all for your input! I now have 5 out of 6 lights working! I used a cheap multimeter, a cheap soldering iron, electrical tape, and a cheap alkaline battery. All three lights that failed initially after the Ni-Cd's were replaced had broke, pinched, and exposed wires. As you all already noted, these lights were made in China. The entire original wiring and soldering points were hideous. It was a miracle these things worked when I first bought them two years ago! The one light that no longer works needs a circuit board repair where the LED is connected. The base board material ripped from the board where the solder was holding the LED to the board. If the LED was bent in one direction, the connection was closed and the light worked, but this was intermittent. With time and gravity and corrosion, the light would fail to work again. I don't have the right material (epoxy) to fix this. It may not work even if the surface was repaired, and I don't have a circuit layout to know where to hard-wire around the damaged LED area. During reassembly of the other two repaired lights, the alkaline battery powered the light and helped me know if I broke a connection again during the assembling process. Although my husband recommended we buy cheap new lights instead of my going through all this trouble and using the kitchen counter top as my repair station, I am glad I took the time to learn how to repair my existing decorative ones. When they fail to work again (and based on what I've seen on the inside wiring, they will fail), I won't have any problems repairing them unless the circuit board is damaged. I plan to eventually repair my last decorative light with a replacement circuit board scavenged from another solar light (hopefully a discarded one from friends). Thank you all!


tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
·FirstLight Fiber
·Hollis Hosting
·G4 Communications
said by DaiToday :

I don't have the right material (epoxy) to fix this. It may not work even if the surface was repaired, and I don't have a circuit layout to know where to hard-wire around the damaged LED area.
Glad you got it working.

I assume board is pretty simple, either single or two sided. Should not be hard to trace out runs and bridge them with wire and solder. If the board is so severely damaged you cannot trace it out take a look at one of the good lights.

Only need to glue board if damage is causing mechanical problems. In that case just slather on a little epoxy to add mechanical stability.

/tom


Jason
Stowage Class Traveler
Premium,Mod
join:2001-01-24
38.2967 Lat
kudos:3
Agreed..

It sounds like;
A small bit of wire soldered from the LED lead to whatever its trace led to first (thereby bypassing the broken trace by a piece of wire) would fix you right up...

-Jason
--
You can keep the change.


Rungel
Run A Mile Live Awhile
Premium
join:2001-12-05
CT
Good subject.. i have to check all mine out this week.