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The batteries should usually last 1-2 years, but may need to be taken out and recharged and cleaned every 3 months.

They generally need to be in direct sunlight 4 hours a day to properly recharge. Lights under trees or on the north side of a house where they are shaded during much of the day will not get a full charge.

If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain or snow, you should store your outdoor solar lights during these months. When storing the solar outdoor lights, make sure the on/off switch is in the off position and the solar lights are stored in a dark, dry location.

2 types of batteries are usually used in garden solar lights: AA size NiCad(Nickel Cadmium) 1.2 V / 500 to 900mA, and AA size NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) 1.2 V /1000 to 2000mA.
  One thing to remember about rechargeable batteries, the ones listed as Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) will acquire a "memory", wherein the battery remembers its last capacity charge and only charges to that limited capacity on following charges. In other words, if you have NiCd rechargeable batteries and they only charge to half their capacity during a cloudy period, then the following full sun days will only charge to the lower cloudy day capacity. They still charge, but not to the level you may have seen when you first installed the batteries and it was sunny out during their initial charges/uses. On the other end are the Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries which cost a little bit more but don't acquire the "memory" effect as compared to their NiCd cousins. And do make sure you have the proper type of battery in your solar lights. There are Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries on the market, but they are specified for their particular device. They generally produce a brighter light (as the LED is able to handle the power) and can fry out the circuitry on a device that is specified for NiCd or NiMH batteries. Just be sure you use the right ones!

Faulty switches are common problem. If the light doesn't come on wiggle the switch. I took the circuit board with the switch off and tried to short the terminals; It still didn't work. A friend wiggled the wires connected to the board around and got it to work.

Sometimes the photoresistor could be the problem. Either it doesn't recognize daylight and leaves the light on all day running the battery down or doesn't recognize nighttime and will not turn the light on.

My lights only lasted about 3 hrs after sunset, with the original batteries in lights which I had sitting in my garage for over a year and had only used for about 2 months.

Steps to take with rechargeable batteries and your solar garden lights. " Your Solar Link Blog
Solar Lights FAQs-Improvements Blog | ImprovementsCatalog.com

last updated 28 Feb 2017