While researching a column on solar lights, I actually got too much information from Canadian Tire spokesperson Askshata Kalyanpur to fit in the paper, so I’m including the overflow here: A few fast facts:
Regular output solar lights contain Ni-CD rechargeable batteries. High output lights contain Lithium Phosphate rechargeable batteries. (I was also told recently by a Black and Decker product specialist that lithium batteries don’t like extreme cold, so I’m trying to find out if that means you need to bring lithium-powered lights in during the winter – I’ll report back on the answer to that.)
LED bulbs can last anywhere from eight to ten years. No individual LED bulb can be replaced; the entire top housing with bulb is the replacement. Rechargeable batteries will usually last two years.
Replace batteries when you notice the the light is weakening.
For optimum performance, it's best to install regular solar lights in full sunlight to charge for ten to 12 hours. Solar LED lights can charge faster in partial or full sunlight. On a full charge, batteries will power the light for more than eight hours, unless the product has a built-in timer.
Kalyanpur also suggested dirty panels can be cleaned simply by wiping a damp cloth across the surface. But, thinking that a dirty film on the panel might be the problem, I’ve tried that with some under-performing solar lights at my cottage -- to no avail. A reader had slight success using diluted vinegar and/or CLR rubbed on the solar collector while held upside down. I’ve decided that it’s probably not in fact dirt that’s the problem but that the panel itself is damaged or worn-out. But I’d be interested to know if other readers have had the same issue.
One of my fave solar lights this year are the colourful disks from PC Home (see above) which I’ve used as tabletop lighting for outdoor dinners. Love ‘em!