Solar lights tend to be pretty fool-proof and work right out of the box…well, after some setup. But, like anything, you may find that they stop working as advertised and need to do a little troubleshooting.
One common issue some owners of solar lighting experience is having them come on…or stay on…during the day. While this isn’t a problem, per se, it can mean that the bulbs end up going bad more quickly and could be the precursor to the breaking all together. So I did a little digging into various reasons solar lights come on during the day and ways to get them to work properly again!
Why Do My Solar Lights Stay On During The Day?
In general, solar lights stay on during the day because there’s something wrong with one of the electrical components or settings. Another common reason is there is something in the environment that is causing a miscommunication about what time of day it is.
Normally, solar lights wait until it’s dusk or dark to come on. If your outdoor or indoor solar lights are staying on all day, there is something wrong. Here is what you should look for:
- Placement of your solar lights. For instance, are they getting more shade than sun? If your lights are getting less than 4 hours of direct sunlight, put them in a different location.
- Dirty or compromised solar panels. These are located on the top of your solar lights. Dust, dirt, snow, and anything that covers the panels should be cleaned off.
- Dust or moisture buildup on the inside of the solar light, causing the sensor to malfunction.
- Dead or inoperable batteries. You can try checking for leaks, cleaning the points of contact, or installing a set of new rechargeable solar batteries.
- A problem with the wiring, which may require expert assistance or a manufacturer exchange.
- Sensitivity settings that are up too high. You can try lowering these.
- An override switch is turned on. Check the switch and turn it off if necessary.
It’s possible that the environmental situation you happen to live in or mechanism of the lights themselves could be to blame for you solar lights to stay on during the day.
When there’s a storm in the area that blocks the sun, solar lights may come on during the day if it’s too dark. In this case, nothing may be wrong with your solar lights. They’re responding to environmental cues exactly the way they should.
While you can monitor the lights’ performance during a sunny day, chances are they won’t come on. However, other things in the environment can cause problems that require your intervention. For example, your solar lights may be too close to your house or landscaping.
The eaves of your home, bushes, and trees could be casting too much shade over the panels of your solar lights. During certain parts of the day, your solar lights could come on because the electrical wiring and sensors think it’s dark outside.
Try moving your solar lights away from areas that receive a lot of shade during the day to see if this makes a difference. If it does, you’ve solved the problem. Alternatively, you could trim back trees and bushes so less shade occurs.
Sensitivity settings are another typical reason solar lights come on during the day. If these settings are up too high, your lights will be more sensitive to shifts in darkness and light. The lights may think it’s darker than it really is.
Higher sensitivity will prompt solar lights to come on and stay that way when there’s only a little bit of cloud cover or shade. Learn how to lower these settings by looking at your manual or online how-to videos. Once you’ve adjusted the settings, see how your solar lights respond.
If they no longer come on during the day, you’ve found the right setting. However, you may need to adjust the sensitivity a few times before you find the right level.
How Do I Prevent Solar Lights From Coming On During The Day?
The best way to prevent solar lights from coming on during the day is to read and follow the instructions in your manual. Although solar lights basically work the same way, there may be nuances for your particular brand or model.
Once you’ve gone through the manual’s instructions, evaluate the places you’d like to install your lights. Check the areas for direct sunlight exposure and how much shade those areas get. Try to set up your solar lights in areas that typically receive over 4 hours of sunlight a day.
For example, many homeowners like to place solar lights along walkways and paths. They also like to place the lights near the trunks of trees to illuminate them at night.
Other popular places include near porches, hot tubs and swimming pools, and the exterior of lawns. Avoid places that remain shaded or covered during most of the day, such as the north side of the home or lawn.
Replacing worn-out batteries according to expected lifecycles will also prevent solar lights from malfunctioning. Your manual should give you an idea of how many charge cycles you can expect the initial set of batteries to last.
The manual may also give you the expected life in terms of months or years. You can check the health of the batteries every six months to a year to see if they can still hold a charge. If not, replace them immediately.
Also, make it a habit to clean the charging panels of your solar lights at least once a month. You can do this while you’re completing other work in the yard or outside. Check the lights for signs of moisture and debris buildup on the outside and inside.
To clean the top of your solar panels, you’ll want to use lukewarm, soapy water. Rinse the panel off with clean water and let the panels air dry. Check the manual for your solar lights to see how to reset the sensitivity settings and override switch.
Keep in mind that sometimes solar lights malfunction right out of the box or stop working after so many years of use. If you’ve run through the troubleshooting list without any success, check your manual about any applicable warranties.
You may be able to get a complimentary set of replacement lights or batteries if they’re still under warranty. However, you’ll want to double-check the terms of your warranty. Many exclude normal wear and tear or accidental damage.
Depending on the initial cost of your solar lights, it may also be more cost-efficient to replace them. However, this should be a last resort.