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Sun is out and your solar lights are shot

It’s that time of the year, the sun is coming out, it’s time to get out and sort the garden – you’re thinking those B&Q solar lights you bought will at long last, once again be springing to life.. and…. no, I GUARANTEE if you’re reading this and you have solar lights, at least one of them will be stone, cold, dead.

Crappy B&Q Solar LightsThe reason? It has nothing to do with the technology, it’s old-fashioned RUST. You see it doesn’t ever rain in China OR anywhere near a B&Q store and so the idea of water-proofing solar lights has never entered the heads of those involved. Simple, really.

Now, we’re not talking about rubbishy black plastic lights here but the later generation of stainless-steel and as we all know, stainless steel doesn’t rust. So you can add to the mix of no rain, my imagination…


What you’re looking at on the right is the scene UNDER the blue photovoltaic panel (solar panel) on a typical B&Q late-model solar garden light – I think we bought these in October or thereabouts. The light was dead. I took the battery out and charged it for a while and sure enough the light came on… but would NOT turn off in daylight – the reason is obvious…

The lights work by a tiny circuit who’s job is to take the voltage from the single battery up to something that will power a LED. It’s other job is to turn off the lights when the solar panel sees daylight (by which it charges the battery). With no solar panel connection, there is no charging –and no turn-off so the battery just flattens.

tmp8A92How could a new unit get into this state-  simple – eventually they ALL do because for some reason, either B&Q don’t specify or the Chinese simply don’t understand the concept of waterproofing. Either that or just as likely this is deliberate – sell them cheap, get people to replace them every year.

Were it not for this, the circuits would last a lifetime or more, the LEDS would last many years, the battery would likely be good for 5 years and the solar light would last between 2-3 years to 20 years depending on the plastic they use – some of the really cheap solar cells frost over after 2 years of even British sunshine, the glass-topped ones don’t do this.

But none of that matters if it all rusts to hell.

tmpEE54Worth resurrecting? Technically no, of course not…  as they only cost a couple of quid each – but if it’s a Sunny Sunday and you happen to have a soldering iron, silicon sealant and WD14 handy… why not! This particular model is now happily collecting light back in it’s natural habitat – which it is NOW capable of handling. A spot of WD40 on the board after soldering the wire back on – and a spot of silicon seal under the solar panel so the water can no longer get under there…

Worth taking the whole thing back to B&Q and making someone’s day – CERTAINLY but like me, by now you’ve probably lost the receipt and thrown the box in the bin. If only enough of us could muster up the energy to keep taking these things back and complaining – ultimately they’d get it and produce proper solar lights – no doubt about it – correctly made these things DO work and work well. Sadly, I think it’s simply down to most being made to a price. There’s a reason they have a circuit to ramp the voltage up – it’s cheaper than using 3 batteries!

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