Solar Powered Lawn Lights

QUESTION:
Does solar power stuff work when it’s cloudy?
It was raining most of today with some sun and when we came home our lawn decoration which is solar powered was on and now it’s not. It rained a lot and it’s very windy outside now. Can it be because it didn’t get enough light or can it be blown away? My mom won’t let me go out because she’s sleeping so yeah.

ANSWER:
QUESTION:
Lawn/patio lights, can’t figure out how they work?
I just bought a house and there are about 20-30 small lights, the little lamp type with hoods on top, lining the driveway and patio. Problem is, I can’t figure out how they work. There is no switch apparently, they all seem to be connected by a single wire. Funny thing is, late at night 2 of the lights switch on. It is possible that the rest of the bulbs are dead, but how are they being powered? No battery or solar panel can be found? Any idea how to find this out myself (please don’t suggest I bring a lighting person in, I am first trying to figure it out myself)? Thanks.

ANSWER:
It’s either dead bulbs or a bad connection to the main wire.

Standard landscape lighting is powered by a transformer that steps down the 110 volt AC at an outlet to 12 volts. The transformer also usually includes a rotary timer that allows you to set when the lights come on and go off. The 12-volt wire that supplies the lamps is connected to terminals at the transformer and is run throughout the yard. Each lamp has a clip assembly of some kind (different actual mechanism for different manufacturers) that includes little barbs for piercing the insulator on the 12-volt wire for connecting the lamp to the wire.

Sometimes, these barbs develop a bit of corrosion and the electrical contact is broken. In this case, you can kind of jiggle the connector to try to remake the contact. Sometimes, you have to undo the connector and reconnect it at a different spot on the 12-volt wire.

Depending on how the installer connected additional 12-volt wires together, you might also have a bad splice connection. I always use wire nuts to connect the 12-volt wires together and wrap that up with electrical tape. However, this is not completely waterproof and may eventually corrode, breaking the connection.

To troubleshoot the system, take a known good bulb and, starting at the transformer, trace out the 12-volt wiring. Put the good bulb into each lamp in the system. When you get to a lamp that doesn’t work, check the lamp’s connection to the 12-volt wire. If this doesn’t make the lamp come on, trace back to look for a bad splice. If you find one, cut the wires and redo the splice. A voltmeter is also handy for determining if you have a break in the continuity somewhere along the line.

When you’re at the point where putting a good bulb in each lamp causes it to light up, count all the bad ones and go get some new ones. However, they must be the same wattage as the original bulbs.

The transformer only puts out so much power (in watts). Let’s say it puts out 110 watts. Assuming a safety factor of about 10%, that means you can hook up about 100 watts of load to it. The standard (incandescent) bulbs come in 4, 7, and 11-watts. So, you can safely run 25 4-watt bulbs, 14 7-watt bulbs, or 9 11-watt bulbs off of that transformer. If you exceed the loading of the transformer, it will overheat and eventually shut off (thermal protection). You might even damage it.

The wattage rating for the transformer should be shown on a sticker on the bottom of the transformer.

QUESTION:
I got my father a set of solar powered lawn lights as a fathers day present and he just said I don’t want them and asked me to give him the cash I paid instead, I was kind of upset but I just gave him $60 and thought if that’s what he wants that’s best. But I really feel bad that he didn’t like my gift. So I kept them anyway and put them around the garden. He went out last night and said how nice it looked and when i woke up i seen he had put the money on my dresser. Now I’m stuck. i want him to have a gift he likes but he gave the money back, should i insist he takes it to buy a gift he likes or just keep it?

ANSWER:
Dude, he changed his mind most likely. He didn’t know how well the garden prob would look with them. Seeing them look so good he decided he did really want them yet he didn’t want to again change his mind by telling you. Basically, he ended up liking them, and instead of going up to you again and saying he changed his mind, he put it on ur dresser. Don’t pressure the old man, give him a break most fathers do really feel awkward about getting gifts. Next time, seeing a movie or eating at a great place is good idea to.

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