Category Archives: Repairs and upcycling

Reconditioning Solar Garden Lights

We all have had garden lights where the solar panels are not really visible anymore (See photo below) The epoxy coating of the solar panel degrades in UV reducing the energy the solar panel can produce. Therefore they only run for a short time at night. Why put them into landfill, when you can easily clean them up to look like new?

A degraded solar panel giving poor run time at night.

Each year in spring, I spend a few hours cleaning the solar lights from spiders and cobwebs. At the same time I clean the surface of the solar panel and coat it with conformal coating to bring it up looking like new. Now I use conformal coating in a spray only because I normally have this around for Printed Circuit Boards. Any type of clear coat from an automotive or hardware store which is UV stable should work.


Conformal Coating in a aerosol can gives a nice uniform finish.
  1. Clean down the solar panel surface with water and detergent to remove all contamination like bird droppings. I will still have a white non-clear look, but the conformal coating will change that.
  2. Mask the area so spray will only go on the solar panel. Photo coming.
  3. Spray the area or use a paint brush to paint a layer onto the solar panel. I used a paint brush this time around as I had conformal coating in a standard container.
  4. Leave to dry.

About a month after recoating the solar panel.

If your garden light still does no work after a day of recharging in the sun check the battery connections and any switch. Normally the contacts just need to be cleaned.

Note: Try to buy higher quality garden lights with replaceable Lithium batteries as these should last longer than the older Nickel Hydride battery versions. Really this should be the case for all products, we seem to buy the cheapest and think that at this price, we just buy a 2nd when it fails. This is generating so much extra e-waste that then needs to be processed or put into landfill. Reduce, Recycle, Reuse!

These ‘higher’ quality garden lights run from Lithium batteries and are replaceable.

Flame effect lights after cleaning and coating the panel. Works and looks like new again.

These cheap gutter lights clean up very well. These are about 4-5 years old now and still working well.