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"If I can't fix it, it ain't broke. " - Author Unknown

Repair a rusty solar powered garden light.

Repair Solar Light; saving it from the landfill

Solar Light
Solar Light

I've had these solar lights for a few years. Two summers ago they began to stop working. Last summer I left them in a box in the garage. This spring I decided I would either fix them or toss them.

I hate tossing anything and with this mixture of glass, plastic, metal and battery it would probably find it's way to a landfill.

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Step one: troubleshooting.

Rusty battery box
A rusty mess

Severe rusting in the battery box.

It didn't take long to find the problem. These lights are obviously meant to be used outdoors so why don't they make them weatherproof?

How can you not suspect they want it to fail?

As you can imagine, the battery looks pretty much like this. These come with a NiCad battery. Only a couple had batteries that still took a charge -- once cleaned up.

I will replace the bad batteries with NiMH batteries. These are much better than NiCad and they aren't as toxic to the environment.

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Take light appart
Outer shell (trim)

Take it appart

The first step is to open it up. This metal shield is attached to the bottom and appears to be only decoration. The screws were rusted beyond help so I ground them off with a Dremel tool. I won't put this trim back on.

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Inner shell
Base of fixture

With the trim removed I can access the three screws that hold the unit together. Thankfully these are not too rusted to get a grip on

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base removed
Remove base

Look at the insides

blass ball removed
Detatch glass ball
Snip wire
Snip wire lead

Begin repairs

You can see in the above pictures that the spring (negative battery connector) is still in good condition so I will leave that alone for this fix.

But the positive battery connector is rusted beyond saving, I clip the positive wire. I will not use the old connector -- other than support for the connector i will build.

This is a good time to check if the battery was all that was wrong. Hold the cut end of the possitive wire to the (+) battery terminal while resting the other end of the battery on the spring. If it lights, you can proceed with the repairs.

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Make new battery connector
Wrapping copper wire

Making new battery connector

I have some 24ga. solid strand copper wire that I use for many projects. I've stripped the insulation from about 6". Thread this wire around the old rusty connector for about 3 wraps.

Try to work this into a nice tight layer and flatten it, as much as possible, against the old bracket.

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Solderig wires together
Solder wires together

Add solder to firm up connector and attach positive wire.

Solder all the wires together across the top of the connector. Then add the possitive wire into this solder bead to complete the re-build.

Screw everything back together and enjoy for another few years.

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Finished and assembled
Finished Light

After re-assembly, I ran a bead of silicon caulk around the edge of the base where it meets the glass globe. I hope this will keep the inside a little drier. I've also put a dab of silicon grease on the screw heads.

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