Resurrecting Solar Lights.

Discussion in 'Gardening Other' started by Doghouse Riley, Apr 10, 2021.

  1. Doghouse Riley

    Doghouse Riley In Flower

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    For those who have them, they can be a pain.
    You can put perfectly good lights away in October, bring them out in April and some don't work.

    We've had these globes on a pole for several years.

    As a precaution I always take the batteries out, give the contacts a spray of switch cleaner and WD40 the steel tubes.

    What often happens is that water gets in during the summer and rusts the contacts, and they can be difficult to clean and get the caps to fit properly.

    To cure this, I get a bit of multi-strand wire and poke one end down between the positive contact in its slot in the side and the wall of the battery holder, form a curl with the other end t ogo over the positive contact of the battery.

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    Quite often the caps won't stay on, so I wind a bit of insulation tape round the top overlapping the cap. Not too much or they won't slip into the steel tubes.

    [​IMG]



    Its also as well to put a bit of black insulation tape around the bottom of the glass dome where it meets the metal of the lamp. This will prevent rain getting in.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. S-H

    S-H Young Pine

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    In my experience, they all have the old nickel cadmium batteries, (too many of them are still in stock in wearhouses everywhere, unused from the 1990s) - So companies often buy such bankrupt stock very cheaply, and install in solar lights.

    Nickel cadmium batteries were the only game in town for a very long time. And extremely popular with photographers, because they had good charge density for those times. So photographers could save a lot of money, when buying these rechargeable nickel cadmium batteries for their camera's flash.

    But these batteries became obsolete overnight, and completely unexpectedly. As nickel-metal hydride batteries soon took over, (in the late 90s). Because they didn't have any charge memory... So a lot of nickel cadmium batteries remained unsold, (even till this day). But nickel-metal hydride batteries glory day wasn't long lasting either. As lithium ion started to take over the market.

    So this is why manufacturers now get these old nickel cadmium batteries at a throw away price, (from unsold stock from the 90s). Which they now install in these solar lights, (to maximize their profits) - Such has been by experience with solar lights anyhow...

    However, when I switch the batteries with the new lithium ion ones, (with a tiny driver/controller circuit). Then pack everything back again (with lots of silicon or hot-melt glue) - Is when I have never had any problems with them after this upgrade.

    Of course, this upgrade which I am suggesting, is not always possible with every solar light - It can only be done with those lights which have 2 nickel cadmium batteries, (1.5 + 1.5 volt, making it a 3 volt system). So they can be replaced with a single 3.7 volt lithium ion battery very easily.

    So this can't be done with solar lights with just a single nickel cadmium battery of 1.5 volts only. As all lithium ion batteries are of 3.7 volts... However, I wonder what would happen, if we installed one of those new super capacitors in these single battery solar lights?
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
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  4. Doghouse Riley

    Doghouse Riley In Flower

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    The point I was making is that the type of light on which I was commenting, cost only from about £3 in many places. They could be considered "throw away." I've had these for about six years. My post was just about getting these old lights quickly working, not about what are the best lights to buy.
     
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  5. S-H

    S-H Young Pine

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    I didn't mention which are or aren't the good ones to buy. Only said what I do to resurrect them.
     
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  6. Doghouse Riley

    Doghouse Riley In Flower

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    Yes, but that would be beyond the capabilities of many on this forum. Mine was an "easy fix."
    for the ones I mentioned which are by far those in most common use.
     
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  7. S-H

    S-H Young Pine

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    At least we can agree, that these solar lights are of extremely poor build quality - Because on their own, they hardly ever last beyond one season... In my case over here, the battery doesn't last. Mainly because of the hot temperatures in my environment.

    You are lucky, that the batteries in your climate can last longer. If taken care of, like you do, (explained in detail in your post)... However in my area, no matter what I try to do, these good for nothing obsolete nickel cadmium batteries, (which are already way past their shelf life expiry date), go dead within just a few months of operation, (if not in a few weeks).

    Yes, these lights are available at the throw away price. And it's because they use those obsolete cheap batteries. Which is why people everywhere treat them as disposable. But it seems that you and I still try to do something about them, (in our own ways). So at least I am not alone. Therefore I count this as a victory!

    :headbang:
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
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  8. mart

    mart Strong Ash

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    I just toss and buy new when needed ! So far in last 4 years have not needed to !
     
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  9. Doghouse Riley

    Doghouse Riley In Flower

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    Hmm..

    But that's not really helpful is it?

    Anyone can do that.
     
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  10. S-H

    S-H Young Pine

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    Instead of throwing them away, wouldn't it be better to give to some kid, who would like to experiment with electronics? I mean, that's how I learned, during my very early teens - When everybody in my family, (and neighbors too), would give me all their broken equipment. Often I could get a lot of that stuff working again. But whatever I couldn't, I'd cannibalize the parts for other stuff, (which from the market would otherwise have cost me a lot).

    Learning a subject in an education institute is alright. But learning it on your own, as a hobby, unrestricted and unconfined, free to invent without any rules and regulations, and be answerable to no one but your own consciousness - Is where you'll find real fun!

    :cool:
     
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  11. Growingpains

    Growingpains Young Pine

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    S-H, if schools teach anything as used to be taught, it's news to me.
    I remember Shop where mechanics were taught, Woodshop the kids made something to be used, cooking classes and sewing in Home Economics. I think schools should teach balancing a budget, writing checks, many living skills.
     
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