Most things in your household require a bit of love and care to keep them clean and functional. This means that the solar panels on your garden lights are no exception. These lights are a blessing to your property as they light up essential outdoor areas like backyards, pathways, and gardens. But, it can also get dirty and fade from being exposed to various unwanted elements from outside.
Let this article teach you how the cleaning is supposed to be done. Let’s begin!
All kinds of outdoor lighting in your home, including solar lights, require regular cleaning and maintenance. Although solar lights are designed to withstand different and fluctuating weather conditions such as rainfall, humid sunlight, and snow, without regular maintenance, they can accumulate dirt and debris, potentially affecting their efficiency.
The good news is that proper maintenance for outdoor lighting reaps many benefits. It can very well bring your garden lights back to life. Here are some good reasons behind proper, periodic maintenance:
For one, you won’t be breaking the bank on costly repairs. If dirt and debris are left uncleaned on your solar panels, it will cause substantial harm over time. In fact, you may even void the warranty. This is the last thing you want.
In addition, the dirt will eventually cause rusting in the metal components of your solar panel. And not only will it rust, but it will scrape and brush the surface of your panels as well.
Another good reason to clean your solar panels is that it allows you to check for any problems earlier on. Repairs are going to be a lot easier if you don’t allow the damage to get worse with time.
Your wallet will thank you for your service later.
And besides, it’s not just about the money that you will spend. No one wants a filthy solar panel that is vulnerable to falling leaves, dust, and in the worst of cases, bird droppings. Yikes.
The Tools You Need
Cleaning solar panels on garden lights is a simple process that anyone can do in their spare time. However, before we discuss how you can turn a faded solar panel into a squeaky clean one, some tools have to be at your disposal.
To complete this task, here’s everything you need to get started:
- Sandpaper – This will be used to sand away the dirt and grime off of the surface of your panel.
- Alcohol – For an even cleaner finish, wipe the solar cell down with an alcohol solution.
- Soft brush – If you haven’t cleaned your solar panels in a long time, you might have accumulated some stubborn dirt that isn’t as easy to wash off. A soft bristle brush can help you scrub more dirt than a simple washcloth can’t do. Since solar garden lights are usually small in size, a toothbrush will do just fine.
- Tape – While you scrub the solar cell with sandpaper, put some tape around it for protection against scratches.
- Piece of cardboard – For an extra layer of protection once it is time to spray the clear coat.
- Washcloth or kitchen sponge – This is for wiping the dirt on the surface that easily comes off. Be resourceful and use a discarded towel or a dirty t-shirt that you no longer use. A kitchen sponge can also work.
- Detergent – This will be your cleaning solution of choice. Make sure to mix the detergent with a bucket of water before wiping and brushing. As you do this, be careful not to put too much detergent in. Remember, you’re only cleaning solar panels on garden lights, not doing the laundry. Don’t mix any bleach in there too.
- Clearcoat – This allows the solar panels on your garden lights to shine the brightest.
- Dry towels – Once you’re finished scrubbing, use these dry towels to dry off the solar panels while giving them an extra shine.
How It’s Done
You’ve got all the tools you need to renew and restore the solar panels on your garden lights. Now, grab your washcloth. It’s time to get cleaning!
Before you begin, sprinkle a little bit of warm water over the top cover of the solar light to separate loose dirt on the solar panels. It will also remove stubborn dirt that’s been stuck to the panel for long periods of time.
Now, the first step is to simply remove the top cover off the base of your garden lights. Using a washcloth or kitchen sponge, give the top surface a good wash using mild detergent mixed with water. As you prepare the mixture, be careful not to include other cleaning solutions such as bleach.
When you encounter stubborn dirt while cleaning, grab your toothbrush and glide it across the surface with light pressure so as not to damage the solar panel or any part of the garden light. Doing this will also prevent hairline scratches on the surface of your panels.
Once you’re done, rinse the soap off with water and pat the solar panels dry with a dry cloth to remove any excess water. Make sure not to get any water on the inside of the solar panel lid since this is where the batteries are located.
Once the top cover is dry, now is the time to clean the rest of the base—in this case, the globes or fixtures—of your garden lights.
To do this, run water over your fixtures prior to cleaning. We follow the same procedure for this by soaking a bit of detergent on the washcloth or kitchen sponge. While scrubbing, be careful not to break the glass in case the fixture of your garden light model is made of breakable material.
Once that’s done, dry it off with a towel.
Now that the top cover and the base of your garden lights are fresh and clean, tape around the solar cell of your panel to protect it from getting scratched or damaged as you continue with the cleaning process.
Grab a piece of sandpaper and spray the rough side with water. Do the same for the surface of the solar cell.
Scrub the surface of the solar cell lightly with sandpaper. This is done to sand away the top layer of grime that’s sticking to the surface of your solar cell. It’s a good idea to keep everything wet and moist while cleaning, so be sure to continuously spray water on the surface of the cell during the procedure. We suggest that you sand the solar cell’s surface at least twice.
Next, when the surface is fairly damp, wipe it down with some alcohol to remove any excess dirt and grime.
Now, this is perhaps one of the most essential steps in the entire procedure as this will really give your solar panels that much needed extra shine.
After cleaning the cell of your solar panel, grab a pair of scissors and leftover cardboard. Cut a square that fits the frame of your cell and use it as an overspray protector while you spray a clear coat over the cell.
When you spray the clear coat, move approximately 12 inches away from the canvas and give it a quick and light spray. Don’t overdo it as heavy spraying may cause dripping. After the first coat, wait for a few minutes for it to dry and repeat the same procedure for the second coat.
Now, that wasn’t so hard was it? The finished product is now a sparkling clean solar panel—a valuable asset to any garden or backyard!
Some Points to Remember
Congrats, the solar panels on your garden lights look good as new. Awesome job!
However, your work here isn’t done. To get the most out of your garden lights, there are some things you must do to maintain their cleanliness.
Here are some important points to remember:
Replace the batteries as needed
You’ll know when your batteries need replacement when your lights stay on for shorter periods during the night. Another thing to watch out for is when they start to dim, or when they don’t light up anymore.
To ensure longer battery life, place your lights in a spot where they can receive regular direct sunlight for optimal charging. This ensures that your lights can fully charge without using the stored energy during nightfall.
Cut the plants and shrubs close by
Your lights are heavily dependent on sunlight. Plants, trees, or shrubs that block the sun need to be pruned regularly. Anything that blocks their view from the sun has to be cut.
Consider using vinegar when cleaning the panels
Not a lot of people know this, but vinegar actually has natural properties that can make cleaning your solar panels a walk in the park. Not only does vinegar have the capacity to clean the surface of your solar panels, but it can substantially lessen unwanted dust and other contaminants.
The best part is, not only is this option natural and eco-friendly, but it is also much cheaper than other detergents or cleaning solutions in the market.
Adjust fixture positions accordingly
As the day unfolds, check on the location of your fixtures from time to time in case they accidentally get knocked over. You might also want to adjust their positions according to where the sun shines.
To ensure longevity in all our household items, particularly the solar panels on our garden lights, cleaning and care are essential. Thankfully, cleaning these items is simple and easy and they allow your garden lights to shine as bright as they possibly can.
Now that you know how the cleaning should be done, we hope that your solar garden lights are illuminating your home beautifully!