FAULT FINDING & TROUBLESHOOTING
If you require troubleshooting information for any of our Regency series of lights (PL05, PL06, PO01 & WL01) or our FL05 & FL06 floodlights, we recommend that you use one of the downloads shown below. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these.
DOWNLOADS (PDF FORMAT)
We process and ship around 200-300 orders a day, every day of the year, to customers all over the world. This equates to over 70,000 orders, containing hundreds of thousands of our products being sold annually. Returns are rare as over 99% of the customers who shop with us are more than satisfied with their purchase. Less than 1% of customers request to return a product, for whatever reason. However, more than 75% of the products that are returned reported as being ‘faulty’, once fully inspected and tested, have no fault found whatsoever and work 100% perfectly. This represents very large proportion of the small amount of returns that we receive and therefore, in an effort to resolve these issues we would like to provide this information to assist in troubleshooting techniques.
Below are some tips to assist customers with troubleshooting and fault finding with some of the most popular light fixtures that we sell and the most common causes of problems that are not really a ‘fault’ but instead more of a solution.
The information provided below may apply specifically to one or many fixtures. Not all solar lights are the same but most work using the same principles and use similar parts and components.
The most common problem for a solar light fixture not illuminating at night time is because the fixture has been installed in a location that is simply not dark enough during the night. On the top of a fixture, usually near the solar panels, you will find a tiny photocell (light sensor). It is a clear/white object about 1/4” diameter. This component is highly sensitive to light and controls when the light illuminates (subject to the on/off switch being in the ‘on’ position). If the location is not dark enough the light will not illuminate. Often, the fixture is installed too close to other nearby lighting sources such as street lights, security lights, house lights and such. If you think this may be the problem, try masking over the photocell with some thick tape such as duck tape and see if the light comes on a night time with the tape in place. If it does, then your problem is that the photocell is being affected by nearby lighting or the location you have the light installed is not dark enough. The majority of our customers have been able to quickly and easily solve this minor problem by cutting out a circular shaped piece of tape (about 1/4” diameter or less) using black electrical tape or black duck tape, and place it onto the photocell. This will reduce the sensitivity of this light sensor and compensate for the fact that the location is not dark enough. Depending upon how many of these fixtures you have and where they are located, it may not be necessary to do this to all of them. Light levels can vary substantially just within a yard or two.
Another way to test a solar light, to see if it is working, is firstly to ensure that it is fully charged and the on/off switch is set to the ‘on’ position, and to take the light into a totally dark room to see if it illuminates. The room must be completely dark and it will help to place you hand or finger over the photocell.
Just covering over the photocell or placing a finger or thumb over it outside in daylight or even indoors in daylight is not usually sufficient, as it is sensitive enough still to detect the daylight and therefore the light will not illuminate.
HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES WHERE THE PHOTOCELL CAN BE FOUND ON SOME OF OUR POPULAR SOLAR LIGHTS
PP09, PL04, PP22 Solar Lights - Photocell (light sensor) is situated just above the solar panels on the top of the fixture.
PO01, PL05, PL06, WL01 (‘Regency’ Series) - Photocell (light sensor) is situated next to the solar panels on the top of the fixture.
PP07 Solar Spot Light - Photocell (light sensor) is situated just under the solar panel on the top of the spot light main body.
FL03 & FL04 Solar ‘Multi-Purpose’ Floodlights - Photocell (light sensor) is situated on the base of the fixture on the side, behind the grooves.
FL05, FL06 Solar ‘Multi-Purpose’ Floodlights - Photocell (light sensor) is situated on the fixture next to the on/off switch and solar panel input.
FL09, FL10 Floodlights - Photocell is situated on the battery box.
Many of the solar lights that we sell have been imported or shipped on a journey of hundreds or thousands of miles. During transit, it is quite possible that one or more of the rechargeable batteries is not seated correctly in its compartment. We recommend that the batteries are checked to make sure they are firmly and securely in their compartments.
As all solar lights are in fact battery powered, these rechargeable batteries can fail. Their typical life is around 1000 cycles or when used in a solar light, about 2-3 years on average. From the time that a solar light has been manufactured to the time you receive it (or get around to using it) could be as long as 6 months or more. Therefore, although most of the solar lights we sell are shipped with a part or full charge in the batteries, we do not guarantee that, and it is quite possible that one or all of the batteries are completely discharged. They will need to be charged before the light will function. If you have just one bad battery among others or one battery that refuses to take a charge, then this can affect the entire light and prevent it from functioning normally. You can check or test the batteries with a volt meter or battery tester if you have one. Most solar lights use rechargeable AA size batteries which are 1.2 volts dc. Sometimes rechargeable batteries can be seen to have deposits or corrosion on the ends, usually the button end. This can easily be removed with a wire brush, wire wool or a fine abrasive such as sand paper. The battery ends must be clean and shiny. Sometimes this will need to be done as a matter of routine maintenance, especially when a solar light has been in use outdoors for a long period of time. When checking or testing the batteries it is important to check the battery terminals inside their compartments. These too should be clean and shiny. Any corrosion or deposits on the batteries or on the terminals will affect the charging of the batteries and may prevent the light from illuminating at night time. When reinserting the batteries, makes sure they are in the correct direction and making good contact with the spring and the terminal.
Almost 1 out of 4 returns that are initially reported as ‘faulty’, by the customer, and which are then subsequently found to be working perfectly, are simply a battery related problem that could have been identified and fixed in minutes. Routine battery cleaning, maintenance and replacement is part of the use of solar outdoor lighting.
Remember, when replacing the batteries in your solar light, always use identical replacements whenever possible. We sell most rechargeable batteries for solar lights. Never use a regular (non-rechargeable) battery in a solar light. Also, using a higher capacity battery, than what was originally supplied, is not always a good idea. Although it may work in some fixtures, for some locations, some of the year it can just as easily have an adverse effect. For example, if we supply a fixture fitted with 1000mA Ni-Mh rechargeable batteries and they get swapped out with 2000mA batteries of the same type, you have not changed the voltage but you have doubled the capacity. That means you need to double the charge input. So if the original batteries needed 4 hours of sunshine to fully charge you will now need 8 hours of sunshine. Using the same solar panels that are built into the fixture and the same sun in the sky, by doubling the battery capacity, you cannot expect the same sun and the same solar panels to do twice as much work than what they did before. While it can sometime work, depending upon various factors, it is not something we would recommend and if you must increase the battery capacity then keep the increase to a lower percentage. When replacing the batteries we also recommend using the same type (Ni-Cad or Ni-Mh). While some users successfully swap out their Ni-Cad batteries for Ni-Mh, the change (and added expense) is not always worthwhile.
Helpful tips for use and set-up for some of our most popular products.
SF01 Solar ‘Protector’ Security Floodlight with Motion Sensor
TIP: Do not set the ‘Lux’ dial all the way to darkness (identified with a symbol of the moon. Instead try about 2/3 of the way. No location is dark enough for the ‘Lux’ dial to be set all the way and if you did this, the light would probably never come on because its circuitry is waiting for it to be dark enough. With the dial all the way around, it would never become dark enough.
TIP: If the light worked and then stopped working, check the bulb is good. When replacing the bulb make sure you use a 6 volt replacement of either 10w or 20w.
TIP: Check the battery is fully charged. If the fixture has received multiple or false activations over a short period of time (e.g. the night before) then the battery could be low or totally discharged. This is not ‘regular use’ and it can take several days for the battery to recharge again fully so that the light will work again. Switch it off an leave it for several days. Make sure there is nothing in close proximity to the motion sensor, so that false activations are kept to a minimum. You can check the battery voltage with a volt meter. It should read around 6 volts dc. If it below 5v then the battery is low.
PO01, PL05, PL06, WL01 ‘Regency’ Series
TIP: Make sure all 8 batteries are correctly in their compartments and making good contact with their springs and terminals. Leave the fixture to charge in full direct sunshine for at least 2-3 days initially before turning the switch to the on position. When you first turn the switch to the on position, you may notice a quick (1/2 second) flash of light from the LED’s. This is normal and usually indicates that the fixture is ready to work once it is dark enough. If the fixture is in a dark enough location, it will stay on. If it is not dark enough it will not stay on. If the fixture is positioned near other lighting sources such as street lights, house lights, parking lot lights or other nearby strong lighting sources, then the photocell (light sensor) will assume it is still daytime and the fixture will not illuminate. Position the fixture so that the photocell is away from the light source, relocate the fixture or, as previously mentioned above, mask part of the photocell with black tape.
FP Series of Floating Pond/Pool Lights
TIP: Avoid strong light sources being directed on or towards the pond or pool. This may cause the light to stop illuminating. They may also stop illuminating if an underwater pool light is used.