Most people install outdoor solar lights to illuminate their backyards, gardens, pathways, or pool areas because they are cost-efficient and a convenient way to extract light from the sun. However, to get the best out of them, proper regular maintenance is essential.
Since solar lights are exposed to various weather conditions like rainfall, sun, snow, and storm, you need to keep them clean all the time to perform adequately. After cleanup, you’ll also notice how beautiful your garden will look.
Cleaning solar lights is a pretty simple process that will take less of your time, but before we jump straight into ways to do it, here’s what you will require to get started:
- Gloves: The standard set you have will work just fine to prevent your hands from getting icky once done with the cleanup.
- Washcloth: One is enough, but you can have two, especially if you’re cleaning many solar lights. You can always use the washcloth in the kitchen instead of buying a new one.
- A soft bristle brush: This will help you scrub away more stuck dirt, and a washcloth cannot lift it from your solar lights. Suppose the garden lights are very small use a toothbrush, as they have a more delicate solar panel and glass cover.
- A bucket with warm water mixed with mild detergent: Keep in mind bleaching agents are not great as they could damage the solar panel’s surface. Use a non-abrasive detergent.
- Absorbent towels: You can use the ones in your kitchen to dry off excess water from the solar panels.
How to clean solar panels on garden lights
Garden lights are a bit fragile, so you need to be extra careful when cleaning them. While there are three major parts (solar panels, light cover, and battery), we’ll focus on the solar panel, which is the most crucial one. It dictates the amount of sunlight being absorbed and transformed into usable energy. Therefore, you want to ensure that it’s not all clouded with debris or any other dirt.
While cleaning, you want to avoid anything that will scratch the surface of your solar panels. Opt for non-abrasive cleaning products such as a soft wipe cloth or a toothbrush as they are not too stiff to the touch. And since you don’t want to shatter or scratch the glass accidentally, do the cleanup with a lot of care. Scrubbing the surface of solar panels might as well cause scuffing up, so don’t scrub too hard. If the top of the panel is too dull, polish it with a clean rag and some rubbing compound.
Although garden lights are built to be water-resistant, they are not entirely waterproof, so don’t dunk them in a bucket of water. Besides, avoid using a power washer on the solar panels. It may seem fun to clean your solar lights utilizing a power washer, but it’s not a good idea. The water that comes out of the power washer’s nozzle has a lot of pressure and force to crack the panels.
If you’re asking yourself about the best time to clean solar panels, do it when it is cool outside to simplify your chore. After all, you don’t want to suddenly douse hot panels with cold water because that could result in thermal shock and cause them to crack.
Now, for your garden lights to function as expected, here are super easy methods to ensure they are sparkling clean.
1. Do regular pruning to clear off nearby trees and shrubs
It may not sound like cleaning, but regularly pruning any plant, shrub, or tree that might block your solar panels from full sun exposure, so it’s part of the maintenance. Before using water and other washing tools, this should be your first step because your solar lights need adequate sunlight. Depending on the tree and bush growth surrounding your garden lights, you can decide to prune them at least once a month.
2. Use a damp cloth to wipe off debris from the panel
Since dust or buildup, debris can reduce solar light performance, using a paper towel or washcloth, rub the panel to eradicate loose debris. If you choose this cleanup method, you can do it once in a month. But ensure that you have wholly squeezed the water out of the sponge or washcloth before wiping the solar lamps because dripping too much water into the panel could damage the electronics. If the manufacturer of your lights had given cleaning directions, make sure to follow them.
3. Clean with mild soap and water
If the above wipe-down method does not remove all the dust from the panel, you can thoroughly clean it up using a mild detergent like dish soap and water. Start by dampening the sponge or cloth, put a drop of mild soap on it, and begin scrubbing the solar panel until you remove all the grime. Is the debris too stuck? Squeeze the soapy water out of the cloth and give it a few minutes to soften.
To avoid scratching the panel, use the soft side of the sponge. Where the dirt is too stubborn to come out, especially inside crevices and cracks, you can use a soft bristle brush or a toothbrush for smaller lamps.
Since the remains of soapy scum will attract more dirt to cloud up the panel again, wipe it off using a wet towel. Dampen it with clean water and rub the panel to ensure that all the soap is gone. While doing this, focus on the panel only to prevent water from getting underneath where there are internal electronics. Unless you have the intention to disassemble the whole thing, don’t allow water to penetrate the underside.
This cleaning process is safe for your solar lights every 2-3 months and helps prevent debris and dust buildups. Depending on where you live, you can change your cleaning schedule. You don’t have to clean solar lights often if you live in a damp environment. But if you live in a dusty environment, consider cleaning them every month.
4. Clean the solar panels with vinegar
Using vinegar is also an excellent method to clean solar panels because it is natural and has the capacity to clean metal and crystal objects. You need to mix 2 cups of water, a half teaspoon of a mild detergent or soap, and a quarter cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. When you combine these, the vinegar will become more effective on the solar panels.
The natural properties of vinegar make it a powerful solution to clean your solar panels, and even experts agree with that. Vinegar will clean not only the surface of your solar panels but also reduce unwanted dust and other materials.
So, what type of vinegar is appropriate to clean solar panels? There are several types of vinegar in the market used for cleaning, cooking, and so forth. In this case, you will need a cleaning vinegar for your garden lights. Cleaning vinegar is manufactured explicitly for cleaning purposes. It has acid that will help you remove filth and dust.
To clean your solar panels correctly, use white vinegar because it contains water and caetic acid. Unlike other vinegar types, it is the most acidic, and you can find it in the local market. It is cost-friendly and a suitable product to clean solar panels.
Vinegar eliminates dirt, grime, grease and other debris from the top of the solar panel. Do you think your solar garden lights are the dirtiest? A mixture of water and vinegar will do the trick. And in case you’re wondering if this cleaning method is effective and safe. It is! Besides, it is eco-friendly and doesn’t have harmful materials and chemicals.
Following any of the above cleaning processes will help your solar panels gather enough sunlight and last long too. Allowing dust and dirt to accumulate on the surface of panels will reduce the performance of the solar lights. They will also cause a lot of damage, and that’s the last thing you want to see happen to your precious garden lights. To avoid that, clean them every once in a while.
It doesn’t matter where your solar lights are located. Whether in the backyard, living room, or garden, lighting your home brings calmness, beauty, and soothing. However, for them to give you a long term service while functioning correctly, regular cleanup and maintenance are crucial.