Portable solar lights are a godsend to those who enjoy spending time outdoors. However, as convenient as they are, some models aren’t built to handle getting wet for prolonged periods. As such, you should protect your solar lights from rain and other wet weather conditions.
You can protect your solar lights from the rain by buying waterproof or water-resistant lights. Water-resistant covers, silicone caulk and sealant tape prevent water from reaching the solar lights’ internal circuitry.
This article will guide you on how you can protect your solar lights from the rain, regardless of the model type or any features they may (or may not) have. Let’s dive right in!
1. Use a Water-Resistant Cover
The easiest way to protect any appliance from rain or water damage is to cover it with a water-resistant cover. Take note of the IP rating of the cover before using it, as different covers can handle various levels of water exposure.
Generally, you want the cover to have at least a rating ending in “5.” That means IP65, IP67, and so on. Remember that only the second digit in the IP rating describes resistance to water.
Here’s a table to help you understand IP ratings better:
|IP Rating||Meaning||Protection against|
|IPX5||Water-resistant||Water splashing against the item from any direction.|
|IPX6||Water resistant||High-pressure sprays of water.|
|IPX7||Waterproof||Submersion in shallow water (1 meter) for half an hour|
|IPX8||Waterproof||Submersion in deep water (more than one meter).|
|IPX9||Waterproof||Prolonged exposure to high-pressure, high-temperature water.|
A water-resistant cover is a convenient solution if you already own solar lights that aren’t water-resistant themselves.
2. Display Your Solar Lights in an Airtight Jar
If you don’t have access to a water-resistant cover, you may consider making your own water-resistant containers to keep water away from your solar lights. Luckily, there’s a readily available way to make them at home, and you can even get creative with decorating them!
You’re probably familiar with airtight jars used in the kitchen to store dry goods and liquids. If you have some of those jars and your solar lights are small enough to fit in them, this is an inexpensive way to keep them dry.
All you really have to do is place the solar lights inside the jars and close them tightly. I would test one jar with water and see how much actually gets in first. If your jars are watertight, you can use them to protect your solar lights.
3. Use Sealant Tape for Waterproofing
A more permanent method to keep rain from damaging your solar lights is to waterproof them yourself. You can buy sealant tape at any hardware store, but I found Frost King Indoor & Outdoor B2 Mortite Caulking Cord on Amazon. It’s relatively easy to use, and because it is typically used in weatherstripping doors and windows, the adhesive material will last a long time.
Apply the sealant tape to seal any parts of the lights that water could seep into. Ensure you don’t touch the adhesive side of the tape before applying it to the light, as that could compromise the seal. Apply pressure along the entire length of the tape to ensure it is firmly adhered to the lights.
Note that this method won’t work if your solar lights have many loose wires between the solar panel and the light bulbs. It will only work for portable lights with a built-in solar power bank.
4. Apply Silicone Caulk to Waterproof Your Solar Lights
While sealant tape will help to weatherstrip your solar lights, a better seal can be made using silicone caulk. Better yet, you can choose a brand of caulk that dries transparent so that it’s less noticeable when you’re done.
However, applying silicone caulk can be slightly more complicated than using sealant tape. In any case, here’s how to waterproof solar lights using caulk:
- Load a tube of silicone caulk into a caulking gun.
- Cut the tube tip at an angle (45°), and discard it.
- Extrude the caulk in a continuous bead around any parts of the light where water can seep in.
- Wipe away the excess caulk using a damp cloth.
- Store the solar lights in a dry place, leaving them undisturbed until the caulk dries.
Remember that you might need to recaulk the lights periodically, especially if they are not stored properly. I suggest choosing an antimicrobial silicone caulk because it is less likely to stain, so you won’t have any unsightly discoloration on your solar lights.
5. Invest in Waterproof Solar Lights
Even better than trying to protect low-quality solar lights from the damage that rain could do them, investing in better lights is much easier. Look for solar lights that are rated as waterproof, and you typically won’t need to worry about leaving them out in the rain.
Make sure that you choose solar lights with a high IP rating. That is, at least IP66, IP67. Doing this means that your solar lights can safely be immersed in water, and there’s no need to be concerned about them getting wet in the rain.
If you’re looking for waterproof solar light, I found the XTAUTO Collapsible Portable LED Camping Lantern on Amazon. Its collapsible design makes it easier to carry around and lasts over a day when fully charged. That’s more than enough for most people, so I highly recommend this product.
High-quality solar lights are a must if you live somewhere with extreme weather, especially with substantial rainfall. I would say that most mid-level quality portable solar lights will do just fine if you live in a temperate climate with moderate rainfall.
I’d still suggest you invest in waterproof solar lights if you’ll be moving around with your light bulbs, changing locations as you go camping or hiking in different areas and varying climates.
6. Turn Your Solar Lights off During Rainstorms
Some solar light models are only water resistant instead of waterproof. To ensure that the rain doesn’t short-circuit your solar lights and cause permanent damage to them or worse, I suggest that you turn off and unplug the lights during heavy rainfall.
Even if you have the lights under a tarp, torrential rainfall has the potential to read the lights anyway. Unplugging your solar lights is a way to guarantee nothing bad will come out of them. So, even if you’re leaving them outside during a bout of heavy rain, being turned off means no electricity is flowing through them to wreak havoc.
7. Make Sure They’re Dry Before Turning Them On
If your solar lights have been out in the rain for a while, they have been exposed to the water for a long stretch of time, and there is a chance that some of them have seeped inside. To prevent severe damage, you may want to ensure that the lights are completely dry before turning them on.
I understand that this is not always feasible, nor is it practical. However, try developing this habit of checking your lights before reaching for that “on” switch. You’d be surprised how often a simple wipe-down will save your solar lights.
8. Find the Right Spot to Set Up Portable Solar Lights
Just as it is essential for you to find a suitable campsite for you to set up your tent, you should know the correct place to set up portable solar lights. The correct location is vital because it protects them from the following:
- Rain seeping into them or flooding them
- Animals trampling over the solar lights
- Fire from your campsite reaching them
- Flooding from nearby water sources
It may take some time and energy for you to find the perfect spot, but you’ll save in the long run because they are less likely to be damaged, and you won’t need to replace them so often.
Ensure your portable solar lights are set up in a place that gets the most winter sun. This will ensure that any condensation or rain on the lights evaporates faster, reducing the chance of severe damage.
9. Position Your Solar Lights Correctly
Different models are positioned in varying configurations, but you must ensure that your portable solar lights are positioned correctly. This will guarantee they don’t topple over if the weather gets too windy, whereby they might get soaked in a rain puddle.
This doesn’t matter as much if the light bulb is round, but you’ll want to pay close attention to the position of any connections between the solar panel and the light bulb. The solar panels should ideally face the sun, which often means they get hit with the most rainfall.
Still, ensure the rain isn’t pooling around the solar bulbs. Usually, this means placing them on higher ground and positioning them correctly. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the ideal position they should be placed in, as each model has different standards and protocols.
10. Know When the Weather Is Too Severe
You might be outdoors for various reasons, and sometimes you may need to camp outside during heavy rainfall. It’s always a good idea to check out the weather forecast before heading out hiking, camping, or any outdoor activity.
In some cases, the forecast for rainfall might be too much. You may find it would be much better to skip using your solar lights on those days. You will prolong the lifespan of your solar lights if you avoid turning them on when the weather isn’t favorable.
Remember that rain is not the only bad weather for solar lights. If temperatures drop below freezing levels, you’ll still want to bring your portable solar light inside because most models are not built to handle such low temperatures.
Also, harsh weather conditions such as hail or hurricanes can cause severe damage to your solar lights. Low temperatures and harsh weather conditions can cause the glass surrounding the light bulb to crack or break any waterproof seals, which can allow water inside during a rainstorm.
11. Keep Your Solar Lights Out of Snow
You already know that you should keep your solar lights away from direct torrential rain. However, many consumers also forget how wet snow can be once it melts a little bit. Although snow can seem dry when it first falls, it can be falsely reassuring, and you’ll find snowflakes that have melted into your solar lights once the weather gets even slightly warmer.
Some people go so far as to salt their solar lights, just as you would salt a driveway. This trick is an easy way to ensure that snow doesn’t accumulate in and around the light bulbs and won’t melt into them the next day.
12. Clean Your Portable Solar Lights
It may surprise you to find out that a properly cleaned solar light will function significantly better than a dirty one. Not only will cleaning allow you to thoroughly inspect the light bulbs for any cracks or deformities, but you can also ensure that all the connections are securely covered.
If possible, you can also take the time to dry any wet parts of the lightbulb.
When cleaning solar lights, be careful not to strip away any weather-protective layers. For example, if you’ve used silicone caulk to seal the light bulb and its connections, ensure you don’t scrub the caulk away. Otherwise, you’ll need to recaulk them.
Portable solar lights should be protected from prolonged exposure to water, such as when it is raining. Waterproofing methods are a way to transform any solar lights to water resistant and effectively keep rainwater from damaging your lights—the methods are used in high-end models.
If all else fails, you can also unplug and stow away your solar lights when the weather turns and wait until you see clear skies to pull them out again.
- Clarion: IP Ratings Explained
- ADFAST: Is Silicone Waterproof?
- Airtasker: What Happens When Water Hits An Electrical Outlet?
- WQAD8: Winter In The QCA: What Determines Wet Or Dry Snow?
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