Solar Lights FAQs

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You asked and we answered! Get answers to some of the most common outdoor solar light questions.

Where is the best place to display my outdoor solar lights?

Outdoor solar lights need direct sunlight to receive a full charge during the day. At night, the solar outdoor lights will need the darkest area of the yard, away from any light source such as a street light or outdoor wall light.

How long will solar lights run?

The more sunlight the outdoor solar light receives during the day, the longer the run time at night. As most operating times may vary, the average outdoor solar light will stay illuminated for up to 15 hours.

What affects outdoor solar lights runtime?

Usually, outdoor solar lights will perform better during the summer months because the days are longer, which gives the light more electricity. Cloudy days and short winter days will reduce the amount of electricity the solar lights will receive, so the lights may not stay on as long.

What are the advantages of outdoor solar lighting?

Outdoor solar lights are very easy to install, usually with just a screwdriver. Since you don’t have to worry about where your power source is, you can set up outdoor solar lights just about anywhere there is ample light during the day and darkness at night. There is no wiring to hook up and no special lighting parts to purchase. Solar outdoor lights are also environmentally-friendly since they require no external power supply and they cost nothing to run since they require no electricity.

Does the weather affect my outdoor solar lights?

Since the outdoor solar lights require direct sunlight to charge, cloudy days will inhibit the solar light from receiving a full charge. Most of the casings on outdoor solar lights are designed to be weather-resistant.

Can I use my outdoor solar lights in the winter?

If you live in a moderate winter climate that receives very little rain, such as California or Arizona, you can leave your outdoor solar lights out all year long. However, if you live in an area that gets rain or snow, you should store your outdoor solar lights during these months. When storing the solar outdoor lights, make sure the on/off switch is in the off position and the solar lights are stored in a dark, dry location.

How do I charge my outdoor solar light’s battery?

The batteries on the outdoor solar lights charge via sunlight, so no special battery charger is required. Read the instructions that come with your outdoor solar light to see how to charge the battery upon initial set up (usually the outdoor solar light will need to be set up outdoors and left in the off position for 3 days before use).

How do I install Outdoor Solar Lights?

It takes just a couple of minutes to install outdoor solar lights. Since solar outdoor lights require no wiring, no power source or no digging, installing them is as easy as removing them from the packaging, setting up the solar panel and placing the solar light where you want it. Generally, the only tool that is needed to install outdoor solar lights is a screwdriver.

Why is there an on/off switch on my outdoor solar lights?

Outdoor solar lights come with an on/off switch so you can control when you want your solar light to turn on. If you want the outdoor solar light to continue to work all day every day, you can simply leave the on/off switch in the on position. If you want to charge the outdoor solar light and use the light at a later time (such as a weekend party), you can turn the on/off switch to off until you are ready to use it. When the switch is in the off position, the light will continue to receive electricity from the sun and store it for later use.

My outdoor solar light was charged all day but doesn’t come on at night. What is wrong?

First, check to make sure the on/off switch is in the on position. Second, make sure another light source isn’t preventing the light from turning it on. Move your outdoor solar light to a darker location and see if the light comes on. If it still doesn’t illuminate, check to make sure the batteries are fully charged. Move the solar panel to another spot during the day to see if it will receive more sunlight. Note: The batteries included with your solar charging panel will need to be replaced when their charging ability is decreased. They should be replaced approximately every two years.

For more information on solar lights, see our other solar lighting articles: Why Choose Solar Lights and How to Choose Solar Lights.

Posted in Decor, Home Improvement Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted by: Cyndee DAgostini
33 comments on “Solar Lights FAQs
  1. Chara McDowell says:

    I have been searching out info on my solar lights and this was the most informative! Thanks so much!

  2. Barbara Ganger says:

    I am wondering if I should shut off my solar light owl heads during the day & turn them on in the evening to ensure full lighting?

    • cdagostini says:

      Hi Barbara, In most cases, turning off your solar light only controls if the light is off and on and should not affect the amount of brightness at night. You might want to make sure the solar panel is located in a full-sun area so the battery gets completely charged during the day. And, depending on where you live, you might not be getting enough sun for the solar panel to charge – with Summer just around the corning, that should change.

      Our outdoor owls are not solar powered, but you can probably contact the company where you bought the owl solar light and they can give you more information on your particular solar light.

      Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thanks! ~Cyndee

  3. nikki says:

    Why doesn’t the solar light change colors?

    • Cyndee D'Agostini says:

      Hi Nikki, I’m not sure what you’re asking. We have several solar light products that change color. Can you be more specific?

  4. Sandra Wallace says:

    Should brand new solar lights be charged in the on or off position as my instructions were not very clear on this? Thank you for your help.

    • Improvements Editor says:

      Good question! Solar lights can be charged in both the on and off position. If you want the lights to turn on automatically when it gets dark outside, then charge them in the on position.

  5. Brandon says:

    I have a solar powered light that has 3 led bulbs in it and the switch is labeled C, F, W,. I was wondering if you had any idea what the letters stand for cause I can put the switch into C, W, or F? Please get back to me at your earliest convenience. Thank you!

    • Improvements Editor says:

      Hi Brandon, I’m not sure which solar powered light you’re referring to. Did you purchase the light from Improvements? If so, I can check out the product and reply with an answer. Thanks!

    • Kaya says:

      C means color, F is for Flicker, and W is foe white. Turn the selector to whichever you want.

  6. newsolarlight says:

    Outdoor solar lights are easy to install and virtually maintenance free. Best of all, using them won’t increase your electric bill. A solar lighting system will work well only as long as the solar cells receive the manufacturers.

  7. Ted says:

    If you are having a problem with your solar lights not working even if you replace the rechargeable batteries. Check and make sure you replace the old batteries with the same voltage. I have a light using a 3.2 volt battery. I put in a 1.2 volt battery. That is not enough voltage to turn on the lights. Once I place the same voltage everything works fine.

  8. Kathy Wilbur says:

    What does the the I and o stand for on the switch> We don’t know which one is off and which one is on.

    • Cyndee DAgostini says:

      Hi Kathy, Usually the 1 (on top) is the on button and the circle (on bottom) is the off button. Hope that helps!

  9. Woory Zammit says:

    my flag pole light does not charge any longer. Where can i purchase a new battery pack for it?
    Thank You

  10. Julie Roy says:

    I installed a brand new string of solar bulbs at the beginning of the summer and they all work well.
    Now, 2 months later, 3 of them don’t light up.
    Can you tell me how to fix this, please ? Do I try to find similar bulbs at the store and change them ?


  11. steve says:

    Just wondering if you have heard of a device, maybe like a wine rack that I could place the heads of my solar landscape lights in to move them to a spot that receives good sun, then deploy them back out in the afternoon to enjoy after dark.


  12. Jean Lear says:

    My solar rope lights only light up part of the string, any suggestions?

    • Amandah Blackwell says:

      Hi, Jean. Thanks for your comment!

      As for solar rope lights, we do not currently sell these types of lights. Check to see if the rope is being fully charged in sunlight in order to operate properly. If they’re receiving a full charge in direct sunlight and the rope light is still only partially lighting, it may be a defective unit.

  13. Darcy Gohlke says:

    Can I put a solar lantern inside a cupola on the roof of my home? The cupola has windows all around it but the roof is solid copper. The lantern has panels on the upper sides so I think it will absorb sun through the windows of the cupola. I live in a very sunny area. Will this be enough for the lantern to light up through the night?

    • Amandah Blackwell says:

      Hi, Darcy. Thanks for your comment!

      Solar lighted items will work indoors/behind windows, but the output of light and power will be reduced compared to being outdoors in direct sunlight. If you live in a sunny area, the solar lantern may work well, but it’s hard to say what the reduced output brightness/time would be if the lantern is inside a cupola. Why? Because glass used in windows creates a barrier between the sun and the panel. And since some of the light is reflected, a certain amount of power may be lost. For optimal performance, leave solar lanterns outside where they can receive the proper amount of direct sunlight. However, they may still work inside a cupola but may not do so for as long as you’d like and will not shine as brightly as you may expect.

      Hope this helps!

  14. Bob says:

    Is there a solar light that gives off a warm glow and not so bright white?

  15. CINDY KIZIAH says:

    Do I need to pour water on the dirt and grass and wait about an hour or so before pushing my solarized glass globe in the ground? If so, how much?

    • Amandah Blackwell says:

      Hi, Cindy.

      If you want to pour water on the dirt and grass and wait 1 hour before pushing the solarized glass globe into the ground, go ahead. Soft ground could make it easier.

  16. Chuck says:

    Should rechargeable solar batteries be stored in the fridge when not in use?

    • Amandah Blackwell says:

      Hi, Chuck. Research shows that you do not have to store your rechargeable solar batteries in the refrigerator when not in use.

  17. michelle moore says:

    Hi , i bought a solar light to go on my garden table last week and it was working , then a couple of days later a gave the panel a wipe with a damp cloth and now it does not work. If i turn it off then on it comes on but only for a minute but it still does not turn on a night, it is in a sunny spot so it is fully charged , why is it not working a night.

    • Amandah Blackwell says:

      Hi, Michelle. Thank you for shopping with Improvements! Could you provide your order number? We’ll forward your comment to our merchant and customer service team. Thank you!

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