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How to Restore your Solar Pathway Lights in 5 Easy Steps!
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How to Restore your Solar Pathway Lights in 5 Easy Steps!

Did you know the average life span of a solar light is 3-4 years for the batteries and can be up to 10 years for the actual LED light if properly cared for?! Me neither, until this past weekend of course when I was doing some troubleshooting of my own.

After getting my solar lights out, I took one look at the thick grime build-up on the solar panel and thought, there is no way these are going to work, and I legitimately thought about throwing them out. The panel was terribly dirty and my efforts to clean them did not make any of the grime budge. I did not want to damage the panel so I decided I needed to figure out what I could do if anything.

Since I really liked the style of the lights and knew they were only a couple of years old, I decided I needed to at least try to see if there was a way to get them working like they were when I first bought them. Spoiler alert, there most definitely is a way and it is SUPER simple and totally worth doing!

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 400 grit sandpaper
  • 2000 grit sandpaper
  • Painters or masking tape
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Soft cloth or paper towel

Clear sealant spray paint (I used Rustoleum Clearcoat)

That’s it? Yep, that’s it! Now, follow along to find out what you’ll need to do to make these function and look like new again.

Step 1

First, it’s a good idea to give the top lid and base a quick cleaning with a soft sponge or cloth and a little dish soap, being careful to not let any water into the underside where battery, light, & electronic components are.

Step 2

Tape off around the solar cell to avoid scuffing the painted parts of the light when beginning the cleaning process.

Step 3

Tear off a piece of 400 grit & 2000 grit sandpaper. Next, take the spray bottle & wet both pieces of sandpaper and the solar cell thoroughly with water. Start with the 400 grit sandpaper and while applying light pressure simply begin sanding away the top layer of grime. It is very important to keep everything nice and wet with the spray bottle as you go! Next, move to the 2000 grit and repeat the same process remembering to wet both the cell and the sandpaper. Bam, just like that the light looks new again! I wish I could see the look on your face right now because I was just as surprised!

Step 4

Next, wipe away any remaining debris with a soft cloth. Make sure the cell is nice and dry to prepare it for the seal coat. Now, get a piece of cardboard and cut out a square (or circle) to the size of your solar cell so only the cell is exposed. This will be used to block any overspray when you apply the seal coat. Just like that, you’re ready for the final step! I know, I could hardly believe it myself that it was that easy!

Pictured Above: Solar light on the right is before doing any of the steps mentioned above. The light on the left is after some progress of spraying with water and sanding!Pictured Above: Solar light on the right is before doing any of the steps mentioned above. The light on the left is after some progress of spraying with water and sanding!

Step 5

Sealing the solar cell is a very important step. Be careful not to put the spray on too thick. Hold the can 6 inches or more away and using a sweeping motion to spray light bursts of the clear coat over the cell. After you have a nice first coat, let it dry. Repeat until you have 2-3 coats.Pictured Above: Solar Light “After” with 3 coats of Rustoleum Clearcoat sealant!Pictured Above: Solar Light “After” with 3 coats of Rustoleum Clearcoat sealant!

There you have it, solar lights that look brand-spankin’ new! If you’d prefer to use the YouTube video I used, click the link here. If you’re looking for some other outdoor tips you may want to also check out our previous blog post, “5 Steps to Creating an Outdoor Space You’ll Love.” Enjoy!

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