Adding solar lights to outdoor spaces is always a good idea.
You instantly get a lot more usable space in your yard (especially when the sun goes down), all without having to wire up traditional lights – and avoid spending a lot of money to power them, too.
Unfortunately (for a couple of different reasons we get into in just a moment) solar-powered lights just aren’t quite as reliable as what you probably used to with traditional powered options.
It’s not at all unusual for solar lights to flicker almost right out of the box, even.
Thankfully, though, troubleshooting these issues isn’t that big of a deal.
Below we dig a little bit deeper into the ins and outs of fixing solar lights that are flashing, highlighting why these issues are happening so that you can get out in front of them and breaking down a couple of fixes you’ll want to keep in your back pocket, too.
What’s Making My Solar Lights Flicker?
In general, solar lights will start to flash when their batteries are starting to fail, the solar lenses are dirty or damaged or the light sensor is malfunctioning.
Here are a couple of different reasons that your solar lights might be on the fritz…even if they are brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-box:
- Faulty On/Off Switch
- Bad Batteries
- Solar Panel Issues
- Light Sensor Issues
Faulty On/Off Switch
One of the main root causes of solar lights that flickered can be traced back to an on/off switch that likes to misbehave. If this switch is wired incorrectly, if it is a little “sticky”, or if it just isn’t a high-quality switch the odds are pretty good that your solar lights are going to flicker every now and again.
This can be quickly addressed by getting your hands on the switch itself, popping it out of its housing, and having a closer look. You’ll notice almost right away if your switch is faulty (issues are immediately obvious), but if things look okay and your lights are still flickering it’s not a bad idea to flip the switch on and all a couple of times to see if that sort resets things.
Another common issue that solar-powered lights struggle with from time to time are batteries that are underpowered or not quite as capable of holding a charge from solar juice as you might expect.
Battery technology has come a long way (a real long way) when it comes to solar solutions in the last 20 years. Lithium-ion battery technology, in particular, is light years beyond what it was even just a handful of years ago – and it gets better and better every day.
Even still, batteries are man-made. That means there are always going to be questions of quality control, issues that pop up somewhere along the assembly line process, and all different kinds of things that can go sideways when batteries are being made.
If your lights are flickering you may be dealing with batteries that just aren’t up to snuff.
You’ll want to check the batteries physically for any obvious signs of damage or degradation. You’ll also want to plug and unplug those batteries into your solar system to make sure that they are fully engaged and collecting and distributing power depending on how they are cycling.
Solar Panel Issues
When you’re checking your solar batteries it’s not a bad idea to have a closer look at your solar panels that are collecting energy for your lights, to begin with.
You want to make sure that the solar panels are free and clear of any obstruction, set up in (obviously) bright light areas of your space, and don’t have any moisture or misting issues in between the enclosure and the solar panel itself.
All of those issues can combine to create a flickering situation that’s a little bit tough to get a handle on. Make sure that your solar panels are good to go when you are troubleshooting the flickering situation that you’re trying to solve.
Light Sensor Issues
Solar-powered lights are (obviously) designed to turn on by themselves as soon as the sun goes down.
If there’s something wrong with the light detection sensor on your light set up, though, your lights might start to flicker – or may not come on at all when they are supposed to – and that’s always going to be a pain you know what.
You can troubleshoot this issue pretty quickly by simply covering up the sensor all on your own. If the light comes on when the sensor is obstructed you should be good to go, though you’ll want to keep your hand over the sensor for 30 seconds to a minute to make sure that all flickering issues have dissipated.
If the flickering continues even after covering up the sensor you have two issues that you’ll want to double-check.
The first is a sensor that has become compromised or damaged somewhere along the line.
You’ll have to pop your solar lights apart to have a look at things if this is a concern. Luckily that’s a pretty simple and straightforward process. Serious signs of damage on the light sensor are going to be pretty obvious to spot
The second issue may be a wiring problem from the sensor to the light itself.
These lights are (after all) intended to “live” 24/7 outdoors, even when the weather is less than ideal. It’s not unreasonable to assume that they are going to be subjected to some pretty serious temperature swings, rain, snow, sleet, ice, wind, and all kinds of other issues Mother Nature cooks up.
The wiring in solar lights is usually pretty fragile, to begin with. Add in inclement weather over an extended amount of time (or your lights just getting a little old) and this is a problem most people are going to have to deal with at some point along the way.
Wiring issues are pretty easy to spot, too.
Either the wiring is broken, disconnected, or obviously damaged and needs to be repaired. Likely this is a pretty simple and straightforward job (if you’re up for a DIY project). Otherwise, you may have to toss that light and replace it with a new one.
A solder gun, a bit of wire, and a little bit of patience is all you’ll need to fix compromised wires on solar lights most of the time. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials out there to help you if you haven’t tackled this kind of DIY project before, too!
If your solar lights have completely stopped working, you might want to check out this article where I go into details about how to troubleshoot and get them working again!
When you get right down to it, figuring out why your solar lights are flashing and how to fix it is a pretty simple and straightforward process.
Keep the inside information we highlighted above in mind when you’re dealing with this pretty commonplace issue and you’ll be able to quickly diagnose the trouble, spot the solution almost straight away, and implement fixes ASAP.
Solar lights are a game-changer when they are working correctly in your outdoor space.
They open up our yards quite a bit when the sun goes down, making it a lot more comfortable to entertain while outdoors – even if they only act as a lighted path from one outdoor space to the next.
Now you won’t ever have to worry about them flickering and failing but will instead be able to solve these problems pretty quickly and keep the party rolling!
Here Are Some Excellent Options For Outdoor Solar Lights
For pathway and driveway lighting, I really like the slightly decorative look of the XMCOSY+ Solar Pathway Lights. These have the solar panel on top of each light, so you don’t have to run any extra wiring to a central solar panel, keeping a nice, slick aesthetic.
Patio and Deck Stair Lighting
When it comes to outdoor stair lighting, I prefer a more minimalistic look so that they blend in more with the step riser. For this, check out ROSHWEY Deck Lights...these cast a wide and bright wash of light, which is perfect for deck stair lighting which can often be difficult to properly illuminate. These also look great on fences or on the side of detached garages.
Pergola and Deck String Lights
It may be on the trendy side of things, but I’m loving the look of Edison bulbs. I think the Brightech Ambience Pro Edison style lighting looks great hanging from the cross beams of pergolas and gazebos. You could also string several of these over an outdoor dining table for an outdoor family gathering…really cool ambiance!