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Garden Solar Lights - Battery Problem


UlsterRugby1999

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Paul - can't help you, but interested in response.   We bought two (I think of them as my little aliens in the garden), one has totally stopped working and other is somewhat less of an alien than it used to be.    More to the point, are these kinds of lights intrinsically ineffective, or did I perhaps just go too cheap.    As well as the replacement battery point it would be interesting to know if anyone finds these a successful form of lighting.  

We bought our two as an experiment in order to decide whether to go this route (which we would of course prefer) for other areas of garden.   To date the experiment is not looking very successful.

Had mine just over a year, how long have you had yours Paul ?

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I too have considered buying these lamps but I cannot believe they are effective as they are sooooo cheap.  Hence, I've not bought any !  But, this is an interesting subject and it could be worth buying a set and modifying them with proper bits (maybe they just need a decent battery?), but then, the cost may  make that a non starter.

OP, are you techy enough to find out what's wrong with your lamps ?  If so, I'd be interested in your findings.

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The solar cell and the electrics in these things are OK for many years but they are usually fitted with poor quality batteries that only last a year or two.  I have 10 of these things and while you couldn't for example read by them they are perfect for marking the edge of a path or steps to find them in the pitch dark.  Mine will last 8 - 10 hours on a good charge from a sunny day but when the battery fails - nothing.  However, every one I have had contains one AA sized Ni-Cd rechargable battery (usually low capacity 600mA or 800 mA) and they are very easy to replace. Just pop the old one out and replace with say 1500mA rechargeable which are quite cheap (I got 4 for a quid in Poundland last time I was over) and off you go again, no probs.
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I don't think I'd use NiMH for this as 1) they are more expensive 2)the chargers are more complicated and you get the absolute minimum electrics in this kit. 3)memory isn't a problem as they are fully discharged every night.  I think the batteries fail more from environmental conditions (boiled in summer, frozen in winter) than anything else.
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Shouldn't need to take the battery out and charge it although I did find that it could give the battery a new lease of life, well for a few weeks anyway. Best just to replace it.  These cheapie batteries only seem to have a charge/discharge cycle life of about 500 times so that's about 15 months in the garden.
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Hi all. PierreZFP thanks for the tip. I'm not aware of a Pounthingyplace in Norn Iron (Northern Ireland to you folks) or even the Republic. I'll do some more research to see can I either find them here or by mail order, say Maplins or the like.

londoneye you wouldnt read a paper as Pierre states, but they let you sit outside later at night without 2 tons of insects buzzing at you. Given where I'm from I take every opportunity to eat, drink and sit outside. Usually followed by a gloating telephone call to family and boast for hours [:D]

pcwhizz I bought some earlier this year in BricoMarche - 6 for 40€ I think they were. I bought 2 sets. They really are quite cheap and just a bit of fun.

Thanks for the responses. Paul [;-)]

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[quote user="Pierre ZFP"]I don't think I'd use NiMH for this as 1) they are more expensive 2)the chargers are more complicated and you get the absolute minimum electrics in this kit. 3)memory isn't a problem as they are fully discharged every night.  I think the batteries fail more from environmental conditions (boiled in summer, frozen in winter) than anything else.[/quote]

Problem is Pierre, if you double the capacity of the batts then they won't fully discharge before the sun starts charging them again, and the other side is that the solar cells wont have the power to fully charge the higher capacity batteries in the first place, so memory will become an issue.  Take your point about Ni-MH though.

I have a plan, maybe OTT but its just a thought at the mo.  Connect a number of these lamps together to a common power source (lead acid I think would be the best choice).  The power of the existing solar cells could be an issue, but if you get enough of the lamps then it might just work.  I am assuming I can get at the wiring without distroying the casings.  This would also have the benefit of being able to switch all the lamps on and off from 1 point at will - nothing worse than seeing a garden fully lit at 2 in the morning, surprised they dont get stray UFOs landing !!!!

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I've changed some duff Nicads for NiMh cells, they don't seem to worry about the charge circuit. Main thing is to keep the battery contacts clean, remove the batteries at the end of thje season and fully charge before re-use. Ours are around the pond - you get double the twinkle for your money!
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Have you tried cleaning the tops?  Some of mine stopped working properly and when I took a closer look there was a lot of mildew and gunk on the sensor thingy.  I gave them a good wipe over, and presto - they worked fine again.  The muck was stopping them charging up properly during the day.

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[quote user="Pierre ZFP"]

Here's another use for your solar lights

 

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/800000/solar_powered_usb_charger_cheap_and_easy_to_make/

 

 

[/quote]

Cheers P ZFP, gave up trying to download the video - only got dial up here - but I can guess the rest !

The alcohol, well the Lidl 500ml Pils does the trick at the mo, and its less tham 3 euro for 6  [:D]

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I bought a set of lamps here in UK, cheap as chips as it were and not expecting a lot really for the price.  I set them up on a beltingly sunny day anticipating the blueish glow come evening, yet nothing......................not a single glint of light, to which hubby gloated that they were after all "just old junk".   He then went and brush-cut the leg off one the following day.

Determined,  I had another look at the things.   Nobody told me I was supposed to pull out the little tab on the battery did they???  DOH  [:$]

Anyway, suffice it to say they all work beautifully, highlighting my roses a treat, but I like the idea that they will give the house a "lived-in" effect even if we are not there so I shall probably buy a few more for the other roses marking the pathway.   To me they are an inexpensive option for low level lighting without all that faffing-about with cables etc. 

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