There are many cases why solar lights fail to work, and one of them is because of a broken part of the wire. Don’t throw them away just yet. How to repair wires on solar lights is really easy with these few simple tricks.

broken wires for repair on white background
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/device-concept-torn-wire-repair-broken-1552811522

Some of the most popular solar lights this 2020 are solar string lights, solar LED garden lights and solar street lights. Aside from being an ornamental part of your garden, house or street, these lights are green lighting alternatives to your old incandescent bulbs.

However, solar lights do cost a little more than conventional lights. That’s why you would naturally be upset the moment they fail working.

While it may be your own fault – like when you try to cut down solar string lights by yourself or try rewiring them to configure it with your own landscape or wall shape – there’s usually a universal way of fixing broken wires.

Don’t worry if you’re not an electrician, as repairing wires is not rocket science. It’s easy, given the right amount of guidance and patience.

In this article, we’ll explore the ways on how you can troubleshoot and improve your damaged solar light wires.

Contents:

What Tools You Need for Repairing Wires
What You Need To Know
SKILL #1: How to Use A Multimeter to Check Wire Continuity
SKILL #2: How to Properly Strip a Wire
SKILL #3: How to Properly Solder a Wire
Why Your Solar Lights Have Wiring Issues and How to Approach Repair

  1. Loose Wire Connections From Excessive Wire Tensions
  2. Squirrels Might Have Chewed on The Wires
  3. Unscrewed Wires

Conclusion

What Tools You Need for Repairing Wires

The basic tools you need for stripping a wire and fixing them are typically the following. We have also included links on where you can buy them.

tools for repairing wires on solar lights, heat gun, safety glass, wire cutter, solder
Photo credit: ChrisFix.

What You Need To Know

Before you can fix wires, you must first have an idea on how to check wire connectivity, how to properly strip a wire and how to solder. If you already know these things, you can read ahead in the next few paragraphs.

SKILL #1: How to Use A Multimeter to Check Wire Continuity

Checking the wire continuity using a multimeter requires positioning two ends of the probes at ends of a circuit. Testing wire continuity tells you if the current does travels all the way through the whole circuit.

Here are the steps to connect the multimeter:

1.  Connect the black probe in the “COM” port and the red port on the ohm port.

multimeter
2. Turn the knob to the appropriate ohm setting. Touch both ends of the leads to check if the multimeter is working. This shall indicate a reading of zero or any number close to zero.

normal multimeter reading at zero for continuity

3. Turn the knob at a higher resistance setting than that of your solar light resistance rating.

  • If you are not sure about your solar light resistance value, you can look at it at the manufacturer’s settings or just google the solar light model.
  • If you can’t find it, set the multimeter at the highest ohm setting and work your way down until you get a reading from your multimeter.

4. Touch the red and black lead at each end point on the solar light circuit and check if you get a reading. If at one point you get a reading of 1 or “OL”, this means at that point there’s no continuity.

To understand it more comprehensively, you can watch this video:

You can either replace the faulty wire with the same wire gauge or cut the part that’s causing discontinuity and simply rewire it.

SKILL #2: How to Properly Strip a Wire

*Photo credits from this section are from ChrisFix.

1. Look for the wire gauge specification of the solar light wire you have. This is usually printed at the cable sheath.

wire cutter stripper zoom gauges

2. Secure the wire at the right gauge slot of the wire stripper at about ½ inch from the end.

wire stripper stripping a wire

3. Gently clamp the stripper on the wire and twist back and forth a few times until you feel the insulation cut off. Pull the insulation off, revealing the copper inside the sheath.

wire stripper stripping a wire of solar light

Be careful not to break the copper strands of the wire as removing some strands would increase the resistance. This will cause the wire to heat up. If the fuse doesn’t blow, the wire would melt and cause a fire.

To make sure your wiring connection is safe, you can cut the wire again and re-strip it.

SKILL #3: How to Properly Solder a Wire

Soldering is the process of melting two wire ends together to join them. Before you solder, ensure that you are using safety glasses. This is to protect your eyes if in case there will be accidental hot metal splashes while performing the procedures.

Here are the steps on how to solder the wire.

1. Strip the wire like in the previous section.

wire stripped of solar lights

2. Slide a heat shrink tubing at one end of the wire.

inserting a heat shrink tubing at one end of wire

3. Connect the two ends of the wires. You can either:

a. Spread all of its strands and intermesh the two strands together before twisting them securely or,

intermesh two strands together prior to soldering

b. Twist both ends separately before intertwining them tightly together. Note: Don’t let any copper wire stick out as it might jab the heat shrink tubing and cause shorts.

twisting wire ends together prior to soldering

4. Use a helping hand to clamp the wire before soldering. Quick tip: You can cover the sharp ends of the alligator clips with heat shrink tubing so they won’t cut through the wire.

Using a helping hand to clamp wire before soldering

5. Rub the rosin flux on the wires.

rosin flux on wires prior to soldering

6. Heat the soldering gun.
7. Properly tin up the tip of the soldering gun to help speed up the heat transfer from the tip to the wires.

a. As it heats up, use a damp sponge to wipe the tip and remove all the oxidation.

sponge wiping soldering gun before fixing broken wire solder

8. Place the tip of the soldering gun underneath the wire and feed a little bit of solder in between the tip and the wire. After a few seconds, feed solder at the top of the copper strands, just enough to coat it.

soldering two broken wires together

9. Let it coat and don’t touch it until it cools.
10. After soldering, wipe the tip of the soldering gun on to the damp sponge to clean off excess solder.
11. Inspect your work: you should see the strands of copper wire that should be completely coated, but not covering the strands.

completely coated wires with solder

12. Use silicone paste.
13. Slide the heat shrink tube over the top of the connection.

using silicon paste on soldered wires before inserting heat shrink tube

14. Use a heat gun or lighter from the center to the ends of the connection. Some silicone would be pushed outside the connection as the heat shrink tube compresses on the connection by heat.

applying heat through heat gun on soldered wire and shrink tube

Here’s a video for your reference:

Why Your Solar Lights Have Wiring Issues and How to Approach Repair

Since different types of solar lights have different configurations and designs, you can troubleshoot repairs in a variety of ways. We have listed some of the common failure and repair methods below.

A. Loose Wire Connections From Excessive Wire Tensions

If you have solar fairy lights or solar string lights wrapped around trees or ornaments in your garden, they are usually subject to a lot of pulling by external conditions. The wind might also heave these lights and damage the wiring.

How to Fix Damaged Wires on Solar String Lights

solar string lights with multiple wires fixing broken wires
Photo credits from DIY Spilling Solar Lights

If this is the case, bring down those solar string lights to fix the broken wires. Down below is an example of a solar fairy light diagram. One portion is working fine, while the other end is not working or is not turning on.

This may indicate a broken wire along the circuit.

broken wire along a solar string light circuit

To solve this issue, simply cut the wire at a point before the LED light that doesn’t illuminate. You may also remove one LED light from the circuit to give more room for rewiring as shown below.

troubleshoot broken wire along solar string light circuit

Then connect the two wire ends by twisting them together.

Do you need to solder?

When fixing LED string lights, you would not need to solder wire ends together. You can use a file or sandpaper to scrape off the lacquer at the end of the copper wires. Then twist and tightly secure them together.

scraping lacquer off of broken copper wire
Photo from Fixing Low Voltage Copper Wire Strings

For more ideas on how to improve the design of your solar string lights, you can Sitnah’s Instructables on how to configure solar lights on your own roof design.

B. Squirrels Might Have Chewed on The Wires

Squirrels chew on wires
Photo credit: Pinterest

If it isn’t the wind, perhaps it’s the cute little squirrel who gnarled the wires on your solar lights. Squirrels are a bit of a problem for many homeowners who have electrical wiring connections outdoors. Chewed wires can be daunting to fix, so if you can, try buying solar lights that do not have exposed cables.

To fix chewed wires, you can either solder the wires back together or use an electrical tape to secure them together.

C. Unscrewed Wires

fixing unscrewed wires

Other wiring connections have screws used for securing these wires to the electronics. A simple visual check will tell you if some of these copper wires have been accidentally removed from their positions. Simply screw them back in.

Conclusion

We hope this article has helped you troubleshoot and repair broken wires on your solar lights. Like more helpful tips on fixing solar lights? You may also want to read our Troubleshooting solar street lights article where we guide you on simple ways of repairing common problems with solar street lights.

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