You have been enjoying the benefits of your off-grid solar lights. But they stopped working and you want to know how to fix a broken wire on solar lights. Luckily, fixing broken wires isn’t as hard as you may think.
So, how do you fix a broken wire on solar lights? We’ve put together a quick five step process that walks you through identifying and fixing the wiring issue. Here’s a quick overview of that process:
- Prepare to fix your solar light wiring. Remove batteries from the solar light. Gather the right tools, like a soldering iron and electrical tape.
- Examine the entire solar light wiring to find damage. You may have to take apart the solar light housing to view the wiring inside.
- Fix your faulty wiring. This could mean removing a defective wire or soldering wire back together. It could require removing dirt or debris. Always cover exposed wiring with electrical tape.
- Replace the batteries and test to make sure the solar lights work properly.
- Clean up the extra wiring and debris. Recycle material, when possible.
Hopefully, this helps you get your solar lights back up and shining bright. If you need more help, we’ve put together details for each step to help you fix this solar light wiring issue.
Step 1 – Preparing How to Fix A Broken Wire On Your Solar Light
The tools you’ll need for inspecting the wiring are:
- Multimeter – This is a tool that can let you know if a wire is electrified or not. It will tell you the voltage, current, and resistance of a hot wire. The only thing you need to focus on is if there is a current or not. Doing this will ensure that you are not shocked when you work on the wire.
- Phillips head or flat head screw driver – you may need this to remove the solar light or battery housing unit.
The tools you may need for fixing the wiring issue are:
- Wire stripper and crimper – this is for stripping and crimping wires
- Soldering iron – tool used to bind small gauge wires together
- Lead-free solder – material used to bind the wires together. Lead solder works better at lower melting temperatures, but needs to be handled carefully.
- Silicon paste – this creates a waterproof soldering area
- Rosin paste flux – helps the solder flow smoothly onto the wire
- Sponge – used wet to wipe off the soldering iron
- Safety glasses – protects your eyes from wire or solder splash
- Heat shrink tubing – to cover the wiring after it is repaired
- Heating gun – used to shrink the heat shrink tubing
Step 2 – Identifying The Type of Wiring Issues in Solar Lights
Since every solar light is different, we are going the break down the types of wiring issues into five high level categories. Depending on your solar light design, prioritize your inspection based on the most likely issue first.
Broken Connections – This doesn’t mean there is a broken wire. Instead, it could be a light bulb that is unscrewed or broken. It could also be a wire run in parallel that is not connected at the terminal. What does this look like? An entire row of lights are out, but the rest are on. Or maybe half of a string of lights is on while the other half is off.
Animal Interference – Wildlife, such as deer or squirrels, may have chewed on your wiring somewhere. You’ll want to visually examine the wiring from one end to the other. Keep an eye out for frayed or torn wiring.
Older Solar Lights – If your solar lights have some age to them, there could be dirt or debris short circuiting the control board. Alternatively, the wiring leading to the lights could have a bad connection at the circuit board terminal. You’ll have to open the solar light housing to examine for this issue.
Too Much Tension – Your solar lighting might be wrapped around a post or a tree. Over time, these objects could get slightly farther part. This would cause excess tension in the wiring, leading to a break. To better inspect this, you would need a multimeter.
How to Inspect Solar Lighting Issues With Tools
So you have already visually inspected the wiring from end to end. No frays, tears, or loose connections. Your last bet for inspecting the wiring is to use a multimeter. This will let you know where you are getting power and where you aren’t getting power.
You should keep the batteries in and the lights turned on. But, be careful with the wiring. They will be live and able to shock you. Power on the multimeter and use the following steps to investigate the wiring issues for your solar lights:
- Find the red and black probes and plug them into their respective ports on the front of the multimeter. The red probe is designated for the VΩmA port. Next, place the black probe in the COM port.
- Set the VΩmA to measure milliamps. This is the most sensitive setting and will let you know if it is measuring any current.
- Next, put the red probe on your finger and the black probe on your other finger. Your body naturally creates a small amount of current. The number on the multimeter should jump for a second, but then settle on something close to zero. This was to test to make sure the multimeter is working properly.
- Now, switch the VΩmA to measure resistance (Ω). Put it on a resistance setting higher than the resistance value for your solar light. A quick Google search can tell you what the resistance level is for your solar lights. Now you are ready to diagnose the issue with your wiring.
- Lastly, you should place the probes on the two circuit ends of your solar light. An OL reading means open loop. If you get this or a 1 reading, it means there is no continuity. A zero or close to zero reading means that there is continuity in the wiring.
Step 3 – How To Fix A Broken Wire On Solar Lights
Now you are ready to learn how to fix a broken wire on solar lights. The wiring issue is likely to be one of these three options:
- Connection issue at a terminal on the circuit board
- Wiring break that requires soldering back together
- Faulty wiring that should be removed or replaced
Fix The Solar Light Wiring At The Circuit Board
If there is an issue at the circuit board, you should be able to visually inspect where the connection is broken. Typically, the solar light has a black chip with four pins connected to it. If the chip says “5252” on it, then use this tutorial to understand how to fix each pin.
The first pin, denoted in the image below by the number 1, is dedicated to the solar panel. Second pin is for the battery. The third pin is the ground for the circuit. The last pin, denoted by the number 4 in the image, is dedicated to the LED light. There should be an inductor, that looks like a resistor, that goes between the second and fourth pin.
If your chip looks similar, but doesn’t say 5252, then inspect it to see if it labels the pins. An S+ label means solar positive. The L+ label means LED positive. Lastly, the B+ label means battery positive. That only leaves the ground pin left. Once you have identified the correct pin with its respective wiring, you’re ready to continue.
How To Fix A Broken Wire On Solar Lights: Fixing the Solar Panel Pin
To begin, pull out the multimeter and set it to the DC voltage. Place the black probe on the ground pin. Place the red probe on the solar pin, labeled the first pin in the 5252 chip. This gives you the voltage coming from the solar panel.
If you are reading between 0.5 and 2 volts while the solar panel is in direct sunlight, then the wiring connection is functioning properly. If the voltage is near zero, then there is a bad wire or wiring connection.
Follow the red wire from the chip to the solar panel. If the wire is loose at either connection, then it needs to be soldered back in place. We explain how to solder broken wires later in this article. If the wiring is broken, then it needs to be replaced.
How To Fix A Broken Wire On Solar Lights: Fixing the Switch
If the solar panel is generating electricity, then you should check the switch. There may be debris or weather related corrosion that is preventing it from switching on and off. Use the multimeter on the ground pin and the battery pin. Turn the switch on. If you are reading a voltage near zero, then the switch could be the issue.
You may be able to clean the switch out or solder a loose connection back together. If neither of those are options, you may have to replace the switch. You could find a similarly rated switch on eBay. Make sure you get a switch with the same current and voltage requirements. This issue may not be wiring related, but it still walk through the process of how to fix a broken wire on solar lights.
How To Fix A Broken Wire On Solar Lights: Fixing the Battery Pin
So the switch seems to be working properly. Next, use the multimeter to test the battery pin. Place the black probe on the ground pin. Next, place the red probe on the battery pin, labeled the second pin in the 5252 chip. This gives you the voltage coming from the battery to the LED lights.
If you are reading between 0.5 and 2 volts while the switch is turned on, then the wiring connection is functioning properly. If the voltage is near zero, then there is a broken wire or bad wiring connection. Remove the battery from the battery housing to visually inspect the connections there. Make sure that a piece of the battery connectors isn’t broken.
If the battery has been tested to work as expected, let’s move on the the LED light pin.
How To Fix A Broken Wire On Solar Lights: Fixing the LED Light Pin
First, you should make sure the lights are supposed to be coming on. If you have a solar light with a switch, make sure the switch is in the on position. If your solar lights come on automatically at night, you’ll want to look for a photocell sensor somewhere on the solar light. Below is a picture of what a typical light sensor looks like on a solar light.
Cover the light sensor with a piece of non-clear tape to engage the solar lights. If the lights come on, then there may be an issue with your photocell sensor. If they are still not working, let’s use the multimeter to check the voltage of the pin leading to the LED lights.
LED lights have to be powered by consistence and specific voltages or they won’t work properly. Place the black probe on the ground pin. Then, place the red probe on the LED light pin, labeled the fourth pin in the 5252 chip. This gives you the voltage going into to the LED lights.
If the voltage is near zero, then you have a wiring issue. You have a battery issue if the voltage is fluctuating. Lastly, the issue must be in the wiring downstream near some of your LED lights if your voltage is consistent, then. Visit the next step to see how to solder and frayed solar light wires.
Soldering Frayed Solar Light Wires
So you have identified the issue, but now you need to fix it. This is where the soldering iron comes into play. Follow the steps below to properly solder two broken wires back together.
- Remove the battery and turn the switch to off
- Strip the two ends of the wire to expose roughly 3/4 inch of wiring on both sides.
- Take out the heat shrink wrap and slide it onto one of the wires. Make sure you keep it far enough way from the exposed wire that it doesn’t get in the way of the soldering.
- Twist the two exposed wires together and rub Rosin Paste Flex on the twisted wiring.
- Heat up the soldering iron. Put some lead-free solder on the tip and place in on the twisted wiring.
- Wipe the soldering iron with a damp sponge.
- Repeat steps 5-6 until you have completely covered the exposed twisted wiring with solder.
- Add silicone paste to the soldered area once it is completely covered in solder.
- Slide the heat shrink wrap over the soldered area.
- Use the heat gun to heat the heat shrink wrap until it tightly binds to both wires.
Here’s a quick video that visually walks through the soldering process in detail.
Removing Faulty Light String
If you notice that a whole string of lights is out with others still working, then you might have a fault light string. This is common in fairy lights and LED Christmas lights. In this case, you could fix the issue in two ways:
- Replace the broken light
- Remove the broken light and wire around it
Replacing the broken light is the easiest fix. It should be the first light that is out in the string of lights. If that doesn’t work, then you may have to go around it.
First, you will want to turn off the lights and remove the batteries. Then, cut the wiring right before the LED light that doesn’t illuminate. It is best practice to remove the LED light from the circuit. This will eventually allow more room for rewiring, as seen in the image below.
Connect the two wires and solder them together using the steps outlined in the section above. This should eliminate the faulty wire and allow the rest of the lights to work again.
Step 4 – Test The Solar Light To Make Sure It Works
Now that you have gone through how to fix a broken wire on solar lights, it’s time to test the solar lights to make sure that they still work.
Make sure the batteries are plugged in and fully charged. If the wiring issue was in the solar panels, then you will need to put the solar light in direct sunlight for three hours. This will give the batteries enough time to charge before testing the circuit.
The batteries should be plugged in at this point. Turn on the switch and visually inspect that all of the lights turn on. If they did, you’ve fixed the wiring issue. If not, repeat steps 2 and 3 until you identify and resolve the wiring issue.
Step 5 – Clean Up Your Wiring And Recycle!
You’ve completed the task, but the job isn’t over. Make sure to clean up the area before leaving the site. Remove any excess wiring by recycling it in your recycling bin. If you had to replace any batteries in the process, make sure to recycle your old batteries. You may need to clean up any solder splatter from the soldering earlier. Remember, a clean environment is a safe environment.