Solar fairy lights and how to repair them

You know IKEA had some time ago very nice solar lights for outside. I bought a couple of those fairy lights. Inside are LEDs and they give pretty good light, joy! But then suddeny I had a problem: my solar lights started blinking.

It seemed that the little solar panels were a bit hidden and didn’t get enough sunlight to charge properly. So the neighbours weren’t too happy about our nice blinking walnut tree, because that’s what they do when they are not charged fully: they blink! Blink! Blink! Nice if you want an out-door dance floor 🙂 If sunlight isn’t the problem, they also blink when your batteries fail to charge properly (ie. when they’re old), or when the solar panels are dirty.

Solar fairy lights failing: flashing and blinking

Unfortunately it’s quite normal to see a decline in performance after one or two years after purchase and the fairy lights start blinking. First you have to clean the solar panel(s) and see if that will solve the problem. Dust and other residues have a bad affect on charging. If that doesn’t help, and your solar lights keep flashing or don’t work at all, open the battery compartment and replace the rechargeable batteries with new ones, because the included cells are usually the main cause of failure.

solar lights blinking

Replace batteries in solar panel

If you’re not sure if your lights are still working, replace the old rechargeable solar batteries with normal batteries or fully charged batteries from another device (somewhere on the unit is a little panel with some little screws, this is usually the battery cover). Turn the device on and cover the solar panel(s) with your hand or some paper, this will trigger the lights to burn. If the lights turn on and are more bright and not blinking, then you have to replace the original included batteries. Usually these are AA or AAA rechargeable batteries which can be found anywhere. For a picture what to expect, visit this article I wrote about sun jars.

Some people choose to replace them directly after buying solar products, because usually the factory ones are of poor quality and you get better power (light) output when you replace them with better ones. If you replace them with NiMH batteries with a high mA (milliampere) of around 2000 or more, they will have a longer lifespan. It will also take longer to fully charge them though!

NEWS FLASH: This year (2017) I bought some new fairy lights and somehow they got rid of this blinking problem. Now they only shine less bright if the batteries don’t have enough juice.

solar garden lights
solar garden lights

Where to shop for solar fairy lights

65 Comments on “Solar fairy lights and how to repair them”

  1. This problem could also arise if the lamp is placed directly below a powerline. Had this problem since i bought mine until someone suggested i move it and it solved for good

  2. I put up some new solar fairy lights just a few days ago, they worked fine all night last night, but now, on night 3 of being up, they’ve started flashing and I can’t get them to stay on. I don’t want flashing lights, I want solid colour that just stays on! They have 2 settings…apparently, now both settings seem to be stuck on ‘flashing’ I’d like to return them but I don’t have the receipt so I can’t.

    1. Hi there! This could mean there’s not a enough light to charge them. Maybe it was a bit clouded lately where you are, or the solar panel is (partly) in the shade? Usually, the flashing is an indication that the battery isn’t charged fully. Leave your fairy lights off for a 2 or 3 days and then turn them on again to see what happens.

  3. I just purchase small crackle path lights (solar) from Walmart. Thought they were just white but seems they change colour and flash which I don’t want. Is there anyway to stop this feature so they stay white.

    1. I’m afraid there is no easy solution for this… If there is a color filter inside, you can remove that but the lights will still flash. It’s programmed in one of its chips.

  4. I purchased blinking Solar LED lights. There isn’t an option switch for blinking or non blinking modes. What can I do? Is there a wire I can clip?

  5. Hi,
    I have some solar fairy lights, have only had them for 6 months and noticed they are not lighting up, I wasn’t sure if the solar panel had been covered up but after a full day of sun only the first light on the string is faintly lit. Do I need to replace the batteries, or could it be something else?

    1. Difficult to say. It was a (very) cheap one it could be the lights. Otherwise, change the batteries. You can even use normal, non-rechargeable batteries to find out if all lights are working. If so, you can put in new, rechargeable ones.

  6. Like an idiot i have just accidentally cut through the wire on my outdoory fairylights. The cut is quite close to the solar panel. Is it easy enough to re solder to the internal points?

  7. i have a set of white solar fairy lights, first night all worked well, since then at about halfway they slowly fade out, i replaced the 600ma battery with a 2000ma battery and it still fades at half way, any ideas??

  8. Hi John
    I have a question, I have a couple of panels which have been water logged and therefore rusted. I was wondering if I could join the strings to other lights?

  9. Hi,
    I bought a solar Cherry Blossom tree with 150 lights, last December (2015). It has a long cable on it, so I was able to have the panel on the roof of the house, so it received sun all day. It worked perfectly every night until one night last week I noticed it wasn’t working. I put a regular battery in and it still didn’t work. I recharged the existing battery, but still not response. All wires appear to be connected. The face of the panel is clouded, but I can clean this. The only thing I did notice was some small cracks in the plastic solar cover which I think is possibly sun damage, but there was no moisture or dirt inside the housing.
    Do you have any ideas or suggestions on what the problem could be and how I can fix it?


    1. Hi Michelle! Sorry to hear about your faulty solar lights. It’s really difficult to tell what’s wrong with it from behind a laptop. Was it an expensive tree? There are so many poor quality solar lights out there unfortunately… I’m afraid I can’t help. Maybe you can send it back?

  10. My string lights are lit during the day and off at night. They used to work fine, but then part of the strand went dark but the rest was fine. Tried changing the battery. Any ideas?

    1. Really strange that they are lit during the day… is the solar panel not covered with dirt or something else? If part of the strand went dark there is probably a broken cable between the last one which works and the first one which is dark.

  11. Hi, I put outdoor solar lights in my backyard trees 1.5 years ago, worked fine. I then turned them off left them and tried turning them back on last week. No go, I checked the solar panels and they’re full off water and condensation. Can i fix this myself, or can I replace just the solar panel part? It’s tricky to restring all the wires..

    1. First try to dry everything, replace batteries (if you don’t have rechargeables, use normal ONLY to check if everything works).

    2. Hi, the cockatoos cut the wires between my solar bud lights & the panel that used to charge them. everything is ok with panel & lights but I can’t seem to rejoin them successfully. I have stripped the plasic coating back on both & twited the wires together but the lights won’t light up.
      What am I douing wrong?

  12. Help my solar light will only produce the green and blue colours not yellow or red all the rest of the lights do
    I do not understand

    1. Best is to open up and see how the color filters work. If they were cheap there is a big chance they can’t be fixed.

  13. I have a little “gnome” tree door I bought several (5) years ago. It worked fine until this year. When I replaced the battery, the light would come on even in daylight and stay on until the battery ran down. Would never shut off or vcharge. That tells me the solar panel isn’t letting in light to charge and is too matted to allow sun in to shut it off. I found a website that says if you put clear nail polish on the panel, it will work. I haven’t tried it yet, but when I get off work, I’m going to.

  14. Hi, I have just purchased some solar fairy lights for my daughters bedroom. The bedroom window does not get enough sun. Is it possible to cut the wire and add an “plug” so that I can unclip the solar panel and put it out in the sun during the day?

  15. On my string of 12 solar lights only 2 now light up. They aren’t next to each other and I can’t see any obvious reason ie broken wires. Could you tell me what the cause could be and can I repair them? I’ve had them about 8 months but didn’t keep the packaging so can’t return them. They weren’t cheap ones. Thank you

    1. That’s a strange problem you got there…. Is it possible to change a working bulb with a broken one to see what happens?

  16. I just purchased a string of solar fairy lights and only the first half of the string lights up. Can this be fixed?

  17. I have a set of fairy xmas lights. They worked great when I first used them. This year the battery was dead. so I openned it up and found a battery soldered to the wires. I’ve since replaced the battery with a real battery pack and conected it to the original wires. now the indicator light comes on but the string lights do not. All connections are good with no corrosion.

  18. Hi, I am addicted to my solar lights and am regularly changing batteries and cleaning panels to keep them all working. I have found the best thing for the panels is a spray water dispersent, like WD40, it makes the opaque panels clear again so they can absorb the sunlight.

    I hdo have a problem with one set of lights at the moment. Two strings of 50 lights each split off in separate directions from the main cable to the solar panel, sort of like a t shape with the top of the t being the lights. About the first 20 lights on each string (side of the t) are working fine, very bright, no problems, but from there on, none of the lights work. There is no broken cable and it is not the battery because I have just replaced it. Any thoughts?

    It seems such a waste to have less than half the lights working.

  19. Hi! Wondering if you can help me.
    I recently bought a few sets of fairy lights. One in the backyard was working brilliantly for a few days but now is really dim. I had to go out and look closely because it barely looked like they were working at all.
    I’ve just put up a second set and they are working great as well but the same night after the same amount of sun the first set are still dim as ever. Any ideas?

  20. I purchased a box of silver and glass solar lights. Not till I got home did my husband tell me that the solar tops are missing off the glass cups. i got them at goodwill for 5.00 Am I able to buy replacements? It looks like they would go on the top of the glass votive. Thanks!

  21. Thanks so much for the great info! Mine just stopped working altogether after a few flashing fits, so I cleaned the screen and changed the battery like you advised. They seem good as new! Yay!

    1. When you bought them did they flash or were they constantly on? Because normally when these solar lights start to flash it is because of low-light conditions (batteries aren’t charged enough) or the rechargeable batteries have to be replaced.

  22. Hi there! You seem to be the man in the know regarding these solar powered fairy lights so I, like others before me, am seeking your help!

    I have some solar fairy lights that light up only when I actually manually flip the on switch (although it is on that position continously). It then lasts for a few minutes and they go out again.

    Not really the disco light effect mentioned in your post…

    Any suggestions? I’ve changed the batteries, and cleaned the panel. They aren’t that old but can not be brought back to the store as I’ve thrown the receipt away… 🙁

    Thx in advance!

  23. Hi i bought 3 sets of solar fairy lights and put them round my tree – none of them work now and i have replaced the batteries twice – once with new ones i bought from ebay – then i bought an actual battery charger and charged the batteries and they still dont work – i dont know why they have just stopped working – any ideas ?? it took me hours to get them all round the tree!

    1. For how long did they work? Try a fresh, charged battery and cover the solar panel to see if the lights work.

  24. Hi ya I have red,green and blue solar fairy lights and the red lights work all the time, the blue ones work on a sunny day but even on the sunniest day the green will only flicker on for a couple of seconds before going off again even if I put a fully charged battery in it, is there a fix for this ?

  25. Hi I have these solar fairy lights . My green led light is on on both sets but still no solar lights come on at night

  26. I have cleaned fairy light solar panel by using turps and rubbing with a scourer suitable for non stick pans with a little dish liquid. It works but has someone found a better method as my method does not really do the job to my liking.

    1. I think ultimately the plastic transparant cover on the solar panel is getting matt. What I do is after cleaning or when they are new cover the panel with transparant Scotch tape and replace that every year or so.

  27. My son pulled my string of solar fairy lights and snapped the cable. I have tried to repair it by stripping the insulation back and twisting the copper wires together but it hasn’t worked. Any suggestions?

    1. Of course there mustn’t be any short circuit. Did you try to change polarity? LED lights have a – and + so maybe you’ve connected the wrong wires. Change them and see what happens.

        1. I would test a short in the wire by cutting them close to the light and see if the now cut wire produce any electricity. If not, then the PCB is faulty if it works, replace the whole wire.

  28. I just bought a solar spotlight. I noticed that while it was in bright daylight today the light was on. When I picked it up and carried it, the light stayed on then turned off. Then I placed it in the ground and when I looked at it about an hour later the light was on again – but it was bright daylight. The next time I looked a half hour or so later, the light was off.

    At night the light came on and seems to be staying on. I just cannot figure out what has it coming on during the day. There was nothing blocking the solar panel that would have made it activate the light.

    1. Sorry for my late reply… Did you manage to find the problem? Usually this means there is a flaw in the circuit or some dust or dirt on the panel.

  29. I have 2 sets of lights and they stopped working and I have replaced with new like for like batteries, but they still don’t come on. Both are switched to “on”, do they need time to store a charge with new batteries? Should I switch them off to charge first?

    1. Yeah, they need some time to charge. I assume you use rechargeable batteries, thats very important! The solar panels are very small, and can get dirty, so don’t forget to clean the little panels before putting the lights back into the sun. Give it a day to fully recharge and they should come on.

      1. yes you should replace with rechargeables for everyday use – but if you want a reliable 8hr stretch of light eg for a party or something – then you can put standard batteries in and then change them later

  30. I have replaced and cleaned the old units removed the dead bugs and only one unit works properly. The light goes on but the photocell sensor does not shut it off. Only one unit when I put my hand on the top light goes on, take hand away light STAYS on all the time. So it will not be able to fully charge if the light stays on during the day. All the wire connections look fine, nothing about the units that stay on look any different than the unit that shuts off when it is dark.

    There was no corrosion on the battery ends. What else can I check?

    Thanks, Wendy

    1. About the one that stays on, it might be a short circuit somewhere, difficult to say. Clean the little printplate and make sure there is no dirt between the connections on it… How old is this unit?

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