Installing solar lights at home is an efficient way of lighting your home. However, broken parts due to vandalism or natural causes can render them useless. Do you have a few spare moments to repair them? Don’t throw them away just yet! This article will show you several easy methods to fix the solar wire.
Repairing wires is not rocket science, but it does require some very specific procedures and tools to make the repairs.
What Tools You Need for Repairing Wires
When the wire breaks, it is important to know how to fix them. Although the wiring methods are a bit complex, you can easily carry out the repair of these solar lights with various tools and materials we have listed.
- Multimeter – to measure wire continuity
- Safety glasses – to protect your eyes while soldering
- Wire Stripper/Cutter – for removing the wire sheath
- Sandpaper/file – for removing the copper lacquer
- Lead-free electrical solder – use lead-free solder as it’s environmentally friendly and is more durable
- Rosin paste flux – for cleaning and preventing oxidation and corrosion on soldered areas.
- Silicone paste – to lubricate and protect wires from oxidation.
- Soldering gun -for connecting two wires or a wire to the PCB
- Heat shrink tubing – a rubber material for securing the soldered area
- Lighter/Heating gun – for compressing the heat shrink tubing in place
- Helping Hand (optional) – for holding wires in place
What You Need To Know
Before you can repair a broken wire, you need to know how to check the connection, strip the insulation from the wire, and how to solder the wires back together. If you already know these techniques, read ahead.
How To Use A Multimeter To Check Wire Continuity
Testing wire continuity and the use of a multimeter is easy. Placing one probe on each end of a circuit, you simply try to detect a complete path. If the meter wiggles from side to side, no current passes through the wire. Continuity tells you that the current does not pass through the wire.
Here are the steps to connect the multimeter:
- Connect the black probe in the COM port and the red port on the OHM port.
- Turn the knob to the appropriate ohm setting. Touch both ends of the leads to check if the multimeter is working. This should indicate a reading of zero or a number close to zero.
- Make sure to set the resistance knob to a higher setting than that of your solar light’s resistance rating.
- First, determine your solar light’s resistance value at the manufacturer’s settings, or, you can look it up online using the solar light model name.
- 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. Test the wires to make sure the circuit is complete. If you get a reading of 1 or “OL”, this means there is no continuity.
How To Properly Strip A Wire
1.Solar light wires are different from one another because of the diameter and type of wire used. To find out how to fix the issue, look for a wire gauge specification (printed at the cable sheath) to identify the wire’s size.
2. It is recommended to secure the wire at the right gauge slot of the wire stripper at about ½ inch from the end.
3. Gently use the stripper to remove the insulation from the wire. Pull off the insulation, revealing the copper inside.
Be sure not to break the copper strands of the wire when removing any strands. If you remove too many strands you will increase the resistance which will cause the wire to heat up. The fuse in your circuit breaker will blow if it is overloaded, and if it does not blow then the wire will melt causing a fire.
To ensure a safe connection, strip and cut the wire to fit, then connect the wire back onto the post.
How To Properly Solder A Wire
Soldering is when you melt two wire ends together to re-join them. Before you solder, protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses. This is to protect your eyes if in case there will be accidental hot metal splashes while performing the procedures.
1. Strip the wire like in the previous section.
2. The heat shrink tubing should slide freely over the wire.
3. Connect the two ends of the wires. You can either:
a. Set the strands on a surface, and intermesh the two strands together. Then twist them securely and make sure they can hold balances before you put them in a place.
b. Hand twist the solder joints with a pair of pliers and join them tightly together after inserting the heat shrink tube over each connection. Please do not use the soldering iron to shrink the heat shrink tubes as it might cause shorts or damage the soldered connections.
4. When repairing solar lights, you should always use a helping hand to hold the wire steady. Also, you can cover the alligator clips with heat shrink tubing to protect against accidental cuts.
5. Rub the rosin flux on the wires.
6. Heat the soldering gun.
7. Use a soldering gun to properly tin up wires before you solder them together.
a. Clean the oxidation off the tip of the electrode with a damp sponge until it’s shiny again.
8. For a solid bond, we recommend using a length of fine wire at the top of the connection. Feed a small amount of solder underneath the strands at the base of your wires and cover them with additional wire. The process is similar to weaving between the strands in fishing, so you should feel comfortable with it.
9. Let it coat and don’t touch it until it cools.
10. Once your wire is successfully soldered, wipe the tip of the soldering gun on a damp sponge to remove excess solder, and you are done.
11. When you’re done, your solar lights should look like the one in my photo above. You should see strands of copper wire completely coated by the electric tape. The warning tape makes it illegal for anyone to touch your lights, which is a safety feature that protects people from being electrocuted.
12. Use silicone paste.
13. The connection can be secured further by sliding the heat shrink tube over the top of the connection.
14. Use a heat gun (or lighter) to “tighten” the connection. This will melt some of the inside of the heat shrink tube, pressing it on the wire and connector.
Why Your Solar Lights Have Wiring Issues and How to Approach Repair
Repairs depend on the type of solar lights and their configuration. We list the most common failure and repair methods for your convenience.
Loose Wire Connections From Excessive Wire Tensions
When string lights or solar fairy lights are hung in the garden, they are often subjected to sudden jerking on the wind. Most of the times the broken wire on the solar lights is caused by this kind of behavior.
Do you need to solder?
In order to fix a wire on solar lights, the lacquer should be removed from the ends of both wires. Afterwards, they are simply twisted and tightly secured.
Squirrels Might Have Chewed on The Wires
When you realize that your wires have been chewed by wildlife, you’ll need to begin repairing them. Squirrels are a particular problem for wiring in some parts of the country. You’ll find a multi-step approach to fixing broken wires below.
To fix a wire that has been damaged by the intentions of an animal, you can either solder it back together or use electrical tape to secure it on the inside.
Make sure the copper wire on the positive and negative posts are connected properly. If there is a loose connection, a visual check will tell you if some of these copper wires have been accidentally removed from their positions. Simply screw them back in.