Do solar garden lights work in rain and in winter and how long should they last?
Solar technology certainly should work in the rain or on shorter winter days but, as garden expert Matthew Wilson says, “Ultimately, we’re asking a very small solar panel to do quite a lot of work.” It’s better to think of solar lights as soft ambient lighting and have more of them, augmented with other light sources, Matthew says.
“The solar lights I have in my garden typically stay on for around three to six hours after dusk in summer but only 30 minutes in winter – it all depends on how much sunlight there is and how efficient the solar panel you choose.”
How do you clean and care for solar garden lights?
A typical solar light comes with a solar panel, rechargeable battery and lamp. Some also have a backup USB charging feature. “With exposure to the elements, outdoor solar lights can get damaged, rust over and their wires can break,” says Matthew. “If your solar light stops working it may be that the battery has worn out so it’s worth checking to see if you can replace it with a rechargeable battery.”
To get the best from your light, make sure your solar light panel is clean. Brian Davenport from The Solar Centre – which Matthew recommends as a good quality retailer – advises cleaning the solar panel from time to time with a soft, slightly moistened cloth to prevent the build-up of dirt, debris or snow. Also check the solar panel is in direct sun during the day as these can easily get knocked about by wind, rain, pets or garden wildlife.
An average solar collector needs around eight hours of sunlight for the best results after dark. ‘Take your lights inside over winter if possible or when sustained bad weather is on the horizon,’ suggests Matthew. ‘The reality is that solar lights rarely have the kind of high-quality weather proofing to make them last, which is why they need a little attention when the forecast looks bad.’