So you’ve just got your new lights and you’re ready to enjoy the ‘light show’. But now you’re wondering just how long do they have to charge in order to work properly.
A quick search online shows a plethora of answers ranging anywhere from 4 to 12 hours.
That’s a pretty big range!
And while you hope for the 4, you still have this nagging sensation that it will be closer to the 12.
So just what can you realistically expect?
Solar lights will start working with just a few hours of good sunlight. However, advertised performance will mostly like be achieved only after a full day of good sun exposure.
So why the big range in answers?
Because there is an enormous range in how solar lights are made.
Between the batteries, solar cells and number/type of LED’s, trying to guesstimate how long it will take your particular light to charge is like guessing exactly how long it will take you to get to the store when you have everything from a scooter to a hypersonic jet to choose from.
When in doubt, look to the manufacturers advice.
Why Aren’t My Solar Lights Working?
If your solar light has been out in the sun and has received an adequate amount of charge time, then the number one reason why your solar lights aren’t working is because you have neglected to turn them on.
Yep, been there…done that!
Solar lights generally come with an on/off switch. And if you’re like me and tend to skim when reading the directions (if I read them at all) it can be very easy to miss this.
But the on/off switch actually has an important purpose.
Outdoor solar lighting works on relative light levels. If it is dark, then the light knows to turn on. But unfortunately, your solar light can’t tell the difference between night time and being put in a dark box for storage.
You solar light is going to try and continue to do its job, even if it is stored away in the garage or basement. And this can cause damage to the battery, decreasing the longevity of your purchase.
For an in-depth look at this, please read, “Do You Need To Turn Solar Lights Off?”
How Do You Test A Solar Light?
The best way to test a solar light is by covering the photoresistor.
So what is a photoresistor?
Simplified, a photoresistor is a ‘thing’ in the electronic world that adjusts the amount of electron flow going through it according to the amount of sunlight striking it. This is how solar lights are able to detect low light levels.
When the amount of sunlight striking the photoresistor drops to a predetermined point, the solar light knows to engage the battery and activate. This happens at night, sometimes in a very dark rain, and most certainly when you cover it.
If you are unable to locate the photoresistor, don’t feel bad, they’re not always obvious. You can start by covering the solar cell. Sometimes engineers will put them together.
Another suggestion is, try covering the top of the solar light. As the photoresistor operates on light levels, this means that the photoresistor would be best placed in a position where sunlight is readily available.
And if all else fails, remove the light and take the entire thing to a dark place. You may discover that the light is working, just very poorly. In which case, you may have a charging issue (either the solar cell is not producing or the battery is exhausted).
There may be a delay function on your particular solar light. In other words, the solar light might not instantaneously engage the exact moment the photoresistor is covered. This is to prevent strobing. (Otherwise the light could engage every time a shadow crossed.)