Garden Lights are easy to care for and last for years, put them out in the spring, bring them in in the fall, this is a good time to wash them, store them over the winter with the batteries out, and replace the batteries every two years, beyond that you can forget about them. However my neighbors just buy them put them out and forget about them until they don’t work and then throw them out, this is where I come in.
I love my neighbors garbage this box of garden lights was about to end up in the landfill until I came along, 25 solar garden lights, and new replacement batteries. Now to begin with batteries are not supposed to go to the land fill we have a special collection for them where I live, let alone plastics are recyclable and so are the electronics.
It didn’t take me long to find out why they were thrown out most of them were beyond repair.
Step 1: Sorting the Good From the Bad
I started by separating and tested the batteries from the box the ones that did not have a charge I will put in a charger later and see if they will hold a charge.
Normally when I get a box like this I sort them visually into two groups smashed beyond repair and not smashed, then I go through the not smashed and sort them by working, repairable, and not repairable. To do this I take them apart, inspect them, and test them.
These lights are easy to dissemble they just clip together there is only 1 screw to hold the circuit board in place and a little calking to hold the solar panel in place, most of the solar panels were loose because the calking degraded from exposure.
Step 2: Testing the Lights
To test the lights I removed the lenses from the top, then I removed the battery and replaced it with a good one. When the light came on I exposed the solar cell to the sun to see if the light went out. If the light did not come on I opened the head and examined the insides.
Oxide on the solar cell is easy to repair and most of the time won’t interfere with testing. To repair this see my Instructable “Making a 1 Watt Solar Array”.
On the ones that did not work I found that the wires circuit boards and switches were oxidized beyond repair.
Step 3: Washing the Lights
Now that I have sorted the good from the bad I give the lights a good wash and dry, any good detergent will do, then I fix any repairs, and assemble the lights.
Step 4: The Last Test
I take the assembled lights outside and find a place where the lights will receive the best daylight and wait for nightfall. And that night I go out and see if they are working.