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How To Charge Solar Lights That Have an On/Off Switch

Solar lights are becoming more popular as time goes on. However, they can be a little confusing initially if you’ve never used them before – especially if they’re the type that is made with an on/off switch.

To charge solar lights with an on/off switch, turn on the manual switch next to the battery compartment. Afterward, you’ll want to give the solar lights between two and three days of full sun before using them at night. At this point, they are charged and ready to use.

Today, we’ll cover the ins and outs of charging solar lights with an on/off switch. This process is pretty simple, but there are a few things to be aware of moving forward. That said, let’s get started.

The Basics of Charging Solar Lights With an On/Off Switch

Solar lights are fairly simple to use. Overall, the process is as simple as placing them on the ground and allowing them to charge throughout the day.

How long they need to charge depends on how old the lights are and whether or not they’ve already been charged to full capacity. Let’s get into what solar lights are, how they work, and how you can charge the ones with an on/off switch.

What Are Solar Lights?

Solar lights are small fixtures that can either be attached to the house or, more often, placed in the yard to light a specific area. Today, we’ll primarily discuss solar yard lights since these are the most common type.

The lights contain a solar panel on the top of the fixture that takes in the sun’s energy throughout the day. At night, or when the panel is covered, they automatically switch on – using the stored energy to power them through the night.

Solar lights typically don’t require additional batteries apart from the ones included. Still, a few come up equipped with backup batteries for times you’ll need to use the lights at night and don’t have access to enough sunlight throughout the daytime hours. For instance, if it’s very cloudy or rainy, you might not have enough sunlight during the day.

Finding the On/Off Switch on Solar Lights

Finding the switch is the most difficult part of charging solar lights with an on/off switch. If you’ve never dealt with lights like this, the switch isn’t in an obvious place, and it can be challenging to find it initially.

While a few solar yard lights don’t have an on/off switch, most of the ones made today have one located next to the battery compartment. Finding this will be much easier if you have the manufacturer’s instructions, but if you don’t, here’s an easy way to find it.

In most cases, you’ll need to remove the light from the base to access the on/off switch. You need to unscrew the light from the base to remove the light. It may be challenging to release the light from the base if it is brand new, but it should unscrew fairly easily.

You will see the solar light’s battery compartment. Beside the battery compartment is where the on/off switch is located. You must turn the switch on for the solar panels to begin charging the light.

Initial Charging Time With New Solar Lights

Many people purchase solar lights, leave them out for one day, and are confused that they don’t stay on through the entire night. Instead, the lights will stay on for a few hours and then power down.

Solar energy is powerful but takes significantly longer to build up enough charge to last longer. With this in mind, you must charge your new solar lights for a few days before you try to use them.

Of course, the solar lights will turn on after only a few hours of being in the sun. This short charging time to turn on is an excellent feature because it allows you to test them to ensure they work correctly. You can do this by covering the solar panel on top of the light. If the light switches on, everything is working correctly.

So, how long should you charge brand-new solar lights before leaving them on through the night?

You should generally charge them for two to three days to ensure the light lasts throughout the night. This time frame charges the batteries to full capacity, so you aren’t at risk of the lights shutting off in one evening.

In fact, a full charge should last at least two nights. Once the batteries are fully charged, you can rest assured that each new day of charging will keep your lights on throughout the night every night.

One thing to note is that you’ll need to turn the switch to the OFF position in the evening for the first couple of nights. Otherwise, your solar lights will automatically turn on once the sun goes down, and you won’t be able to charge the battery to full capacity.

Charging Time for Future Uses

Luckily, you won’t need to charge your solar panels for two or three days every time you use them.

Moving forward, you should only need to leave them out for one day. After this time, they should be able to stay on throughout the night with no issues.

If your solar lights aren’t staying on through the night after the initial charge, it may be because they haven’t been exposed to enough direct light throughout the daytime.

Regardless of the cause, if they aren’t staying on, the solution is typically to repeat the process of leaving them in direct light for a few days. Then leave them off throughout the night, just like you did initially, and the lights should work well.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Charging Solar Lights With an On/Off Switch

At this point, you probably have a pretty good understanding of how solar lights equipped with an on/off switch work. Let’s now look at some step-by-step instructions for charging your solar lights.

  1. Remove the light from the base. This process can typically be accomplished by unscrewing the light from the bottom stand.
  2. Find the battery compartment and on/off switch. The battery compartment is often located on the underside of the light. The on/off switch should be located directly beside it.
  3. Move the switch to the ON position. The light must be turned on to absorb the sun’s energy and charge the batteries.
  4. Leave the solar light in direct light for a full day. The light will start the process of charging the batteries.
  5. Turn the switch to the OFF position at night. For the first two nights, turn the solar light off so it doesn’t turn on in the evenings.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for two days. Charging the batteries for a few days will ensure they are fully charged and ready to use.
  7. On the third night, leave the switch in the ON position. Your solar lights are now ready to use throughout the night.

Can You Charge Solar Lights With Indirect Light?

A question that frequently arises with solar lights, and solar panels in general, is whether or not they can be charged with indirect light.

You can charge your solar lights with indirect light. However, the lights won’t charge as well as they will in direct light. You can amplify the charging effect by using additional tools, such as mirrors, to help redirect the light to be more focused.

Somewhat surprisingly, there are many ways to charge solar lights. The best way is still to charge them with direct sunlight. Charging with sunlight will also give you the best response from the lights.

If you’re attempting to charge your solar lights on a completely overcast day, they aren’t likely to charge very much, if at all. In fact, most of the time, solar lights turn themselves on during dark days because they interpret it being night.

On the other hand, partly cloudy days offer a good amount of indirect light to charge your solar lights.

Charging your solar lights to max capacity on a partly cloudy day is challenging because you won’t have constant light beaming down. However, there are ways to amplify the lighting effect.

One of the best ways to amplify the light your solar lights receive is to use mirrors to direct the light to your solar lights. Using mirrors is a great option, but it can be difficult to keep the light consistently directed on the solar lights.

The sun constantly moves throughout the sky, which means moving the mirrors around every hour or two to keep the light on the panels. Depending on the cloud coverage, you may need to move the mirrors more frequently.

Can You Charge Solar Lights With Artificial Lights?

Artificial light can charge solar lights, but they won’t work nearly as well as natural light. It can take twice the time for artificial light to charge your solar light.

You can use any type of artificial light to charge your solar lights. The best light type is an incandescent bulb, but you can also use LED lights.

The key to charging your solar lights or any artificial light is to keep the solar lights as close as possible to the artificial light. Of course, it will still take longer than it will with artificial lights, but it will significantly assist in the charging process to have it placed closer.

Expect it to take about twenty-four hours to charge your solar lights with artificial lights.

Do You Need To Replace the Batteries in Solar Lights?

The batteries in solar lights will need to be replaced occasionally, even though they’re powered by solar energy. Like anything else, the batteries will wear down after continued use.

The batteries in solar lights will typically last between two and three years before needing to be replaced, but this depends on how often you’re using the lights and the conditions they’re exposed to during the time they’re used.

When the batteries need to be replaced, you may notice a few things:

  • The lights will flicker.
  • The lights may turn on and then turn back off.
  • The lights may only last through part of the night, even after a full charge.
  • The solar light may stop charging the batteries.

Any of these things may take place. While they can indicate a more serious problem with your solar lights, most often, it’s simply an indication that you should replace the batteries.

Most solar batteries are either lithium or nickel batteries. Of the two, lithium batteries are better quality and will last longer.

The primary thing to remember when replacing the batteries is that you should replace the batteries with the same type of battery originally contained in the unit. For example, you should avoid replacing nickel batteries with lithium batteries and vice versa.

Another thing to note is that you cannot use regular batteries in a solar light. They may look similar when you access the battery compartment, but these batteries are hazardous to use in a solar light because they aren’t designed to be rechargeable.

Solar lights can’t tell the difference between rechargeable batteries and non-rechargeable batteries. As a result, it will try to charge the regular batteries, flooding them with power.

Not only will your solar light not last very long, but it will likely destroy the light in the process.

Final Thoughts

Charging solar lights with an on/off switch is a relatively simple process.

To start the charging process, ensure the switch is placed in the ON position throughout the day. Allow the lights to charge for at least two full days initially, turning the switch OFF during the night so that your solar lights don’t turn on at night.

After the lights have experienced a full charge, you should only need to charge your solar lights through one day and have them consistently work moving forward.


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