Solar Powered Outdoor Lightings

Reasons Why Are My Solar Lights Not Working?

“Help, why are my solar lights not working?!” We hear this question a lot, and there can be many different answers.

Although solar lights are generally very easy to use and require little to no installation or maintenance, they can stop working. Luckily for you, in most cases, the issue is minor and can easily be fixed.

Below, you’ll find the 13 most common reasons why solar lights stop working, as well as how to easily fix them. From something as simple as switching them on (yes, this happens a lot!) to needing to adjust a few internal settings.

By going through the reasons and fixes in this short post you’ll have your solar lights working again in no time!

Why are my Solar Lights Not Working: 13 most common reasons

Solar Fairy Lights

Solar lights are the perfect addition to any garden or outdoor space. You can get them just for decoration (like fairy lights) or use them to bring some ambience to your outdoor seating area.

As a green source of energy, they don’t harm the environment, nor do they break your bank as they’re extremely cost-efficient.

But like with all products, you may run into issues over time. That’s where this post comes to help. Are your solar lights not working? Then first check these 13 common reasons and fixes.

1. They are Not Turned On

You wouldn’t believe how often people don’t realize that their outdoor solar lights have an on/off switch on them. So even though it may sound silly, the first point on this list is to check if they are turned on.

How to fix it?

Check that your solar lights are turned on by moving the switch from “off” to “on”.

2. The Plastic Pull Tab hasn’t been Removed

If you’ve just bought your solar lights and they’re not working from the start, this might be the reason. For some lights to start working you first need to remove the plastic pull tab.

How to fix it?

Locate the battery compartment on your solar panel and check if a small plastic tab might be sticking out. If so, remove it by pulling the tab.

3. The Battery Isn’t Charged

To work properly your solar light’s battery needs to be charged. And for new lights, you might have to leave it to charge for a day or two before it starts working.

How to fix it?

Every solar light has a different charging time. To ensure your battery is fully charged, turn the switch on your solar light to “off” and leave your light to charge for two or three days before turning the switch to “on” again.

4. The Battery isn’t Properly Inserted

Batteries can move slightly when you move your solar lights or when it’s been knocked about a bit (for example during a storm). If your battery isn’t touching the contact it won’t charge during the day nor will it light your lights at night.

How to fix it?

Open the battery compartment of your solar light and check if it is properly inserted.

5. The Sensor Isn’t Working Properly

Solar lights have built-in sensors that tell the solar light it’s either day or night, and the light should be either off or on accordingly. If that sensor doesn’t work properly, your solar light might not automatically switch on when it should.

So if you wonder why are my solar lights not working, this might be the reason.

How to fix it?

Check the sensor by covering it with your hands (or something else, like a towel). If the light switches on this means the problem is not your sensor. If it doesn’t, your sensor may be the issue.

However, before you return it to the manufacturer to get it replaced, we advise you to check the other possible reasons why solar lights stop working below first.

6. The Solar Panel is Dirty

Solar panels are exposed to all sorts of weather conditions and generally stand in the same spot for years on end. Dust, dirt, leaves, and bird poop can all cover your solar panels and prevent them from working properly.

The dirtier the panels, the less light will come through to charge the battery.

How to fix it?

Clean your solar panel regularly by wiping it with a wet cloth.

7. Your Solar Panel isn’t Receiving Enough Sunlight

This problem is similar to the previous one, as it’s about the amount of sunlight falling on the photovoltaic cells of your solar panel. The less sunlight those cells are exposed to, the less energy your solar lights will generate, and the less light they will emit.

How to fix it?

Check the position of your solar panel. Is it shaded because of a tree? Does it only catch sunlight a few hours per day? Is it in a downward angle resulting in little sun exposure?

You want to find a spot where your solar panel is exposed to as much sunlight as possible, ideally throughout the day.

8. The Battery has Stopped Working

Although the rechargeable battery in your solar lights should be durable enough to last months (if not years), their lifespan is not infinite. That’s why you sometimes may need to replace the battery inside your solar panel.

How to fix it?

Insert normal batteries (if possible) to test your lights. If they work with the normal batteries, it probably means it’s time for a new rechargeable battery.

9. Other Light Sources Stop the Sensor from Working

This is an often-overlooked mistake when it comes to solar lights. Remember we suggested you try and cover the sensor to check if it’s working earlier?

If the light works when you cover it, but it still doesn’t come on at night, it might mean another light source is too close to your solar panel, stopping it from working.

How to fix it?

When it’s dark, cover your solar panel with your hands or a towel or cloth. If your solar lights start working again, another light source may be the issue. To avoid it from obstructing the sensor, try moving your solar panel.

10. The Wires are Damaged

As with any electrical item, you need to ensure the wires and cables don’t break. When it comes to outdoor solar lights, this is probably even more true than over indoor products.

Rats or squirrels sometimes bite through them while exposure to extreme weather conditions can break them as well.

How to fix it?

Check the cables for snags or tears. If you see any damage, try repairing it with a little DIY or, if they’re too damaged, see if you still have a warranty on the item.

11. Water has Damaged your Solar Lights

Although outdoor lights are made to withstand the elements, most notably rain, they are not indestructible. You should always ensure you buy solar lights that are made from durable materials and that are IP rated to test how waterproof they are. But even then, water may still enter your solar lights or panel and damage your product.

How to fix it?

Check for water damage by opening your device. If it’s damp/wet inside, you may need to further dismantle your product and leave all parts to dry thoroughly before putting it back together.

Once reassembled, leave the solar lights to charge fully before switching them back on.

12. You Need to Adjust the Settings

Some more sophisticated solar lights have separate dials to adjust settings like motion detection (Passive Infra-Red (PIR) dials) or brightness detection (Lux sensor dials).

If these dials aren’t probably set they might prevent your solar lights from working properly.

How to fix it?

This comes down to trying and adjusting until you notice a change. Try slowly changing the settings (when it’s dark) to see if a light appears.

13. You Need Professional Help

Finally, if none of the reasons above seems to be the reason why solar lights stop working, it might be time to contact the manufacturer or retailer.

Sellers often offer 12-month warranties or at least have a dedicated customer service that can help you fix your device or find you a new one.


Solar lights are energy-efficient, durable, and overall a great way to brighten up your outdoor space. Unfortunately, they are not indestructible.

In this post, you can find 13 of the most common reasons for solar lights to stop working. So if you came here asking yourself why are my solar lights not working then one of these reasons might be the cause.