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Thread: Refreshing old garden solar lights

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    Default Refreshing old garden solar lights

    I have heaps of these in the yard, and as always, they tend to die after a while.They are the stand alone/ cheapo battery type.

    Naturally, you only get what you pay for I guess, but why do they not seem to last long, and can they be refreshed.

    Seems odd that we buy these things to avoid electricity usage, and probably burn tons of carbon disposing of all the dead one's too?

    My bin seems to like em!!



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    At my old house I had stainless steel ones with glass lenses in them. I used to put them all in the dishwasher ( except for the LED bit ) and they would come out sparkling

    The rechargable batteries they use in them are shithouse , you would be better off replacing them with some cheapies off ebay as long as they have a reasonable mah like 2500 rating on them.

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    i put the battery out of them in a battery charger then use them in something that uses some current charge them up again and they work just like new for a month or two.
    also clean the solar panel.
    NMH dont seem to charge in them due to the solar panels current output.

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    Thanks "ee... .." I'll try the recharge tip and see what happens. Never thought of cleaning the panels.

    Thanks too sanity

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    got one here that didn,t have rechargeable bats just normal ones

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    Personally I think those flimsy weak solar lamps that burn all night or until the batt is empty are total rubbish. They don't illuminate the surroundings and I prefer to switch on light when I need it.

    You can only recharge even the best cells up to 1000 times, so they will usually be dead after three years.
    El cheapos 1.5 years.

    Three years ago I bought 5 nice looking stainless steel solar lights with glass windows that now have been dead for some time.
    I just chucked out the LED electronics a couple of weeks ago and put in 12V 8W halogens (because I had them lying around including a spare 12V 50VA transformer).
    The pool looks in the night like magic now and is just bright enough to swim and even play cards on the table.

    Before I had a 250W halogen for night use, so my recycling trick saves 210W.

    My halogen solution would also work with a cheap 10W solar cell and a used car battery for a daily average of 2 hours and as nobody sits outside every night the batt would be most of the time totally full and only on parties perhaps a little bit deep cycled.

    BTW I made the water feature (bottom right) out of square flowerpots and saucers, stuck with silicone and is illuminated with a lot of ultra bright leds on the same 12V, the pump(8W) also.


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    Nice work No Meat!

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    Very fancy indeed

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    Thanks for the positive feedback

    Even the Missus likes it, who is a very hard one to please. She always wants the place looking like a display home. Pretty tough with 3 kids running around and then there is me always building and messing with stuff that I like to have lying around for recycling.

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    Those cheap and nasty chinese made pieces of junk that pass for solar garden lights are a fad. One person buys them then all the neighbours have to as well because they 'look nice'.

    I have seen hundreds of them on people's properties - one house near here has a driveway lined with them on top of the fences - both sides!
    At night it looks like an airport runway...

    All the ones I have seen up close seem to suffer from the plastic covering over the solar panel going an opaque colour - the plastic is breaking down in the sun and obscuring the panel.

    I see a lot of these thrown out too. Shame really. All this junk is going to rise up out of the earth in 500 years time and come back to haunt us all.

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    Don't suppose we can get a close up of the LED light and maybe a circuit diagram nomeat?

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    Too lazy to draw up a circuit diagram.
    The ultra bright LEDs are in groups of three in series with a 330 Ohm resistor for red, 180R for green and 150R for blue. There are 2 groups for each colour so 18 diodes with 6 resistors + one white diode (with 470R) that beams on the little jet of water.
    I packed the LED groups in clear plastic caps from some deodorant my wife once used(I knew they would come in handy ) and attached and sealed it all watertight with clear silicone. The caps are spray painted facing the viewer with the same cream colour as the pots so you don't see the LEDs.
    The LEDs are bent in position to achieve a fairly even glow.

    This is all connected to the 12V AC with a 250mA fuse, bridge rectifier, 47uF and a 22V zener diode parallel to the supply for a bit of protection.
    I didn't use a bigger capa because I get a slight 100Hz strobe effect from the white LED that makes the drops in the water jet appear to stand still when viewed close up.

    The saucers are 2 sizes larger than the one that normally belongs to the corresponding pot and I had to drill a 12mm hole in the saucers for the plastic tube for the pump(that was the only real work).
    The square pots and saucers were lying around all over Bunnings, the small ones inside. My original plan was to use round ones but when I saw the square pots there was no turning back.
    There are other colours but if any wants to build this with the LEDs I would recommend to use only the cream colour for a nice glow effect.
    I paid less than $30 for the pots.
    They had water features there for $300 that looked IMO way more boring.




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    Edit: the capa was 4u7 not 47u for the strobe effect or just leave it out.
    Use 47u or more if you find it flickers too much.

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