Can Solar Lights Be Recycled?

Solar lights are an excellent green alternative to add some illumination to your surrounding during nighttime. But after a few years, chances are your solar lights might begin to malfunction or stop working.

Suppose disposing of your solar lights straight into the landfill or bin doesn’t feel right. You might wonder, can solar lights be recycled? Yes, solar lights are recyclable. If you are handy or a lover of recycling, you can take different solar light parts apart and use them for other purposes.

Do you happen to have some broken solar lights lying around? Keep reading to gain some valuable insight into recycling your solar lights.

Can You Recycle Solar Lights?

Yes, you can recycle solar lights. Solar lights shouldn’t be thrown directly in the trash because they can cause environmental hazards. Ironic right? Solar lights are made eco-friendly but contain toxic accessories, such as cadmium and lead, that can be harmful to the environment.

Thus, the easiest recycling method is probably to toss it in the recycling bin and have your state facilities take care of the recycling. Unfortunately, electronics, including solar devices, aren’t easy to recycle.

A lot of expensive processes are required. Hence, not all recycling facilities accept solar waste. The numbers are significantly less in the US than in Europe, but it will come at a cost if you do find one.

Therefore, you might want to explore other methods besides paying some money to recycle your solar lights responsibly. Another common technique to recycle solar lights is to repurpose them.

You can use every component of solar light, so you shouldn’t be surprised at how creative you can get with your old solar lights. So, to begin with, carefully strip your solar lights and separate their parts.

An average solar light, when taken apart, would contain rechargeable batteries, solar panels, a controller board, light bulbs, and the body (plastic or metal.) Although, there is a high chance that some parts would be defective because it’s old. Still, there’s a whole creative DIY world ahead of you to explore with the intact parts.

Can You Use Regular AA Batteries in Solar Lights?

You can use regular AA batteries in solar lights. However, it is essential to note that solar batteries are rechargeable, unlike AA batteries. Yet, in the case of emergencies, you can use AA batteries to power your solar lights for a short while.

Usually, it isn’t advisable to use regular AA batteries for your solar lights. Here’s because it can cause more harm than good. Batteries are essential to keep your solar lights working; thus, you should replace them after every one or two years.

It is always wise to keep a spare at hand in case of emergencies to avoid the use of regular AA batteries. Standard AA batteries can result in charging problems and system failure due to their inability to take in the energy created by the panel.

In addition, the use of regular AA batteries can affect the rechargeable cells in the solar light system. Their presence can lead to corroded terminals which can cause a decrease in high-performance lights. It can also alleviate the risks of starting a fire, especially if there are broken wires from the terminal blocks.

How Long Do Outdoor Solar Lights Last?

It’s difficult to put an exact number of years on how long outdoor solar lights last. Although, they can serve you for as long as 5 years and more with the inclusion of changing their batteries every few years. Still, solar lights will only last this long if properly maintained and made with quality materials.

It is basic knowledge that solar lights do not use electricity. They store their sunlight-converted power into their rechargeable battery. Thus, batteries are one of the most critical components of your solar light.

For specific products, the batteries can last for different years, but for a decent set of solar lights, you can expect over 2 years of use before replacing the batteries.

Solar lights panels can last for a more extended period, between 10 and 30 years.

Its LED light can also last over ten years before burning out. Hence, good-quality solar lights can last for more than five years with the proper care and maintenance.

How Often Should You Change Batteries in Solar Lights?

Generally, a lead-acid or lithium-ion battery should last for above 5 years with proper maintenance. In contrast, solar lights using nickel-based batteries will last for only 2 to 3 years.

Hence, how often you should change the batteries in your solar lights would depend on the type of batteries your solar light use. It would be best to change your batteries every two years for nickel-based batteries, while you can change your lead acid or lithium-ion batteries every five years.

However, it is vital to know that sometimes defects in these batteries can cause a need for them to be changed earlier. In such situations, your solar light will give you signs to alert you of a need for a change of batteries.

For instance, your solar light should be powered from sunset to sunrise, providing enough illumination during the dark time. So, if you begin to notice that your solar lights stay on for shorter hours, fluctuate, or won’t turn on at all. Chances are, you need new batteries.

Can You Cut Solar String Lights?

Solar lighting is an eco-friendly option and an excellent way to save some money on electricity bills. The solar lighting system market also predicts a growth of up to 10.8 billion USD by 2024. Hence, if you have some solar string lights lying around but are longer than you require. You might wonder, can you cut solar string lights?

Yes, you can cut solar string lights into shorter lengths. But you shouldn’t cut them if you have no idea what you are doing. This is because there’s a higher chance of you messing it up if you have purchased a solar string light that is longer than required.

You should seek an electrician to help you cut the long strip short or buy a shorter length. However, if you are familiar with wirings, you can shorten them.

Can You Throw Away Solar Lights?

No, you shouldn’t throw away your solar light. It would be best if you tried to reuse the solar lights or give them away to someone who might need them. You could even sell them or give them away to shops or local organizations that could repurpose them.

But if they have exceeded their lifetime, you could dispose of them. Solar lights should be disposed of appropriately to reduce their release of toxic substances into the environment.

Therefore, you can separate the solar lighting parts and dispose individually to ensure adequate recycling. If you cannot separate the body from its elements, you should remove the batteries before disposal. It reduces the risk of toxic chemicals in the environment.

What To Do With Old And Broken Solar Lights?

If you have some broken solar lights and are unsure how to recycle them, you should get to work to repurpose them. You would be amazed at the number of creative things you can do with broken and old solar lights around your home.

However, you must figure out which part of the solar light is defective and the components that still work before delving into your remake project. There are several components of a solar light. Hence, you can repurpose different parts differently.

Solar Panels

Solar panels last for as long as 10 to 15 years. So if you have old solar lights, chances are the solar panels are still good. You can use a voltmeter to confirm if the solar panel isn’t dead.

All that is required is to connect the solar panel terminals and expose the panel to direct sunlight. If the voltmeter reads above one volt, then you can go ahead with using the solar panel.

You can use a solar panel from your solar lights for your gadgets such as flashlights, wristwatches, and calculators. So, you can go ahead and work on your project.

Light Bulb

LED lighting is one of the best around. So, it would be best if you tried to save these light bulbs as long as you can. Not only do they offer improved energy efficiency compared to regular bulbs. They also emit an insignificant amount of heat.

In addition, they do not contain any toxic chemicals that could be harmful to the environment. So reusing these LED lights is the best decision you can make. You could use these bulbs for some outdoor lanterns, patio hanging lights, DIY solar address signs, or even a regular flashlight.

LED lights can provide clean, safe, and efficient lighting for as long as 20 years. So, why dispose of it when you have barely used a pint out of its lifespan expectancy.


Rechargeable batteries are pretty much in every gadget nowadays. Thus, suppose the batteries are still in good condition after stripping down your solar lights. Then there are endless possibilities for repurposing your solar light batteries.

Several devices and gadgets that are battery operated can be fitted with the old AA and AAA batteries to power them. Do you have an old wristwatch, remote controls, or clocks? You can save yourself a few bucks and use the batteries from your old solar lights.

Solar Light Covers

The solar light covers are the easiest to recycle. They do not need electrical knowledge, and you could use them for anything. You could use the covers for storing things if you wanted. Effectively, you could use these covers for planting flowers.

Then, you can decorate your patio with these tiny flower pots. During DIYs, there’s no telling which creative art project where these covers might come in handy. So, be sure to save them.

Controller Board

A controller is a vital requirement for any LED lighting. Therefore, you can put the controller boards to good use and fit them alongside your lights in any device or project you would be using the bulbs.

However, you should figure out if your controller board is strong enough to handle your project before use. You can confirm this with serial numbers or other information that tells you more about the board.


Despite the limitations of disposing of solar lights directly, they can serve a whole new purpose when you reuse them. Therefore, you must ensure that a solar light has reached the end of its lifespan before throwing it away.

If you feel you cannot repurpose these old solar lights yourself, you could gather them and give them away to a solar device collector. You could also sell it online or pay money to get it recycled.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.