Why do Outdoor Lights Stop Working?

Last Updated on September 26, 2022 by the staff of TheAllElectricLawn

Why do Outdoor Lights Stop Working

When was the last time you had to call someone to fix something outside? It seems like every year we get another problem with our outdoor lights. They stop working, burn out, or just plain go bad. Why do outdoor lights stop working?

In this article, I’ll explain why these problems happen and how to prevent them from happening again.

Table of Contents

Solutions to Common Problems With Outdoor Lighting

If you’re looking to add some lighting to your landscaping, consider installing landscape lights. They come in various styles, sizes, colors, and shapes.

There are even options for solar-powered landscape lights. However, it’s important to understand what types of landscape lights work best, and how to keep them working well.

Landscape lighting isn’t just about aesthetics. Lighting helps protect plants against insects and disease, keeps animals away from gardens, and makes nighttime driving safer.

But several things can go wrong with landscape lights. Here are some common problems and solutions to help you avoid them.

 

Does your Outdoor Lighting Have and Electrical Short?

Outdoor lighting fixtures often develop short circuits when their wiring becomes damaged by weather conditions, aging, or poor installation techniques.

Short circuits are caused by an electrical current flowing where it shouldn’t be and not stopping anywhere. They’re difficult to detect because they can occur in multiple locations simultaneously.

 

If we’re going to check for shorts, we need first to identify where they might be located. So, we’d start by inspecting the wiring itself. Then, we’d inspect the connections between the lights and their outlets. Finally, we’d examine the condition of the outlets themselves.

 

Are a Section of Your Outdoor Lights Not Working?

It’s the worst if a section of landscape lights doesn’t work. It looks like a patchwork quilted scene.

We would first need to check and see if the transformer had been turned off. If it was off, we would need to turn it back on, to see if that fixed our issues.

If the transformer weren’t the issue with the outage, we would need to turn it off and begin looking for a possible short in the wiring.

We’ll be checking for any damage to electrical wiring that might’ve occurred during recent landscaping projects.

 

Do You Have a Landscape Lighting Timer Not Working?

If your outdoor lights aren’t working, check if your outdoor light timer is working properly. You can fix this problem by resetting the timer by pressing the Reset, restart, or R button in the transformer. After that, you’ll have to set up the timer again. If that does not work, you may require a new timer.

Are Some of Your Landscape Lighting Not Working

There are several things we could try if some of our outdoor lighting isn’t working.

Look for broken filaments in an incandescent bulb. Check to see if the bulb fits into its socket correctly.

To check whether the socket is working properly, we can look at the plug end of the cord. If there is no electricity coming from the socket, then it could be because the socket needs to be replaced. Also, we can check the connection between the plug and the wire by looking at the pin ends. If they didn’t go through the insulating material, the wires might not be connected correctly.

outdoor landscape light

Are your Outdoor Lights not Turning On?

If none of your outside lighting works, here’s what you can try.

Try plugging another electrical device into the outlet to see if it is getting power.

If there is no power, check the circuit breaker on the transformer for a quick test. Turn off the switch by flipping it from ON to OFF.

If there is an indicator light and it’s red, that indicates that it has been tripped. You need to switch it off and then on again. If it returns to its original position, you need to call an electrician.

 

Are your outdoor lights not bright enough?

To troubleshoot the issue, first, verify whether the light bulb is plugged into the correct socket. If not, you may have too many bulbs, so remove one or two.

We would also check the wattage to know if you’re using too much power.

We would check the voltage for the lights at the ends of the groupings. If it’s under 10V, you’ve got a problem! Use LED bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs because they’re better for the environment and save energy.

Troubleshooting Your Landscape Lighting Transformer

There are many different ways to troubleshoot an outdoor transformer.

First, check the fuse box. If no power comes into the circuit breaker panel, you might want to replace the fuses.

Next, check the wiring connections. You don’t want to short out the wires or make a connection where it shouldn’t be.

Finally, check the transformer itself. Is it plugged in correctly? Do the terminals look corroded?

Are the windings intact? Does the transformer have enough capacity to handle the load?

You Can’t Get Any of Your Outdoor Lights to Come On?

The lights are out, and it seems like something must be wrong. You check the fuse box, but everything looks fine. Maybe there’s a problem with the breaker? What do you do next?

You might want to consider calling an electrician because nothing else makes sense. There could be several problems, including power surges, blown fuses, faulty wiring, loose connections, damaged sockets, burned-out bulbs, or even a short circuit.

If you don’t think you can fix it yourself, the best thing to do is call an electrician. They can take a look around, diagnose the issue, and provide solutions.

Establishing power

To troubleshoot why your landscape lights aren’t turning on, check if they’re receiving electricity, to begin with.

First, locate the transformer that supplies power to your outdoor lighting system. Outdoor lighting transformers are usually found on the exterior of your home, and typically close to an external power outlet. These transformers come in several different sizes.

Make sure that the plug for the transformer is connected to a wall socket with electricity.

There is another quick and easy method for checking if your outlets are working properly. Plug your smartphone charger into an electrical socket. Does it charge your phone?

 

Getting Power Restored to Your GFCI Outlet

If you’re not sure whether you can handle electrical work yourself, don’t attempt it. Usually, fixing an outlet doesn’t require involved electrical work. You might possibly require a flathead screwdriver.

Sometimes GFCIs and circuit breakers trip. Their job is to interrupt electrical circuits, so they don’t cause fires or electrocutions.

When did your lighting systems first stop working? Did it rain heavily at that time? A sensitive GFCI will trip even if the humidity levels in the room are too high (i. e., when there is heavy rainfall).

Resetting the GFCI is fairly easy. On the face of an electrical outlet, you’ll usually find two buttons: Reset and test.

Press the rest button to reset the GFCI.

It would be a good idea to test your GFCI outlet before calling an electrician to come to troubleshoot your issue.

 

What Causes Outdoor Lights to Not Work?

Outdoor lights are great for illuminating your yard during night hours. There are many reasons why outdoor lights stop working, including bulbs burning out, wiring issues, and even power surges.

If you’re having trouble getting your outdoor lighting system up and running again, here are some tips to help you troubleshoot your problem.

Power Outage

If your outdoor lights aren’t working, check if there’s a power outage or an electric issue. If your landscape lighting keeps tripping, it may be caused by a faulty transformer or a fuse blown.

It is pretty easy to test out the components that are having issues with a standard multimeter. If one part works fine, but another doesn’t, there might be something wrong with the connection between them.

If you want to avoid this problem, make sure all exterior light fixtures are installed correctly, so they don’t touch any metal objects.

 

Tripped GFCI

When it rains, water can get into your electrical outlet. If this happens, the circuit breaker will shut down all electrical power to the outlet for your own protection. If there are landscape lights that are attached to the outlet that trips, those lights will be affected too.

Make sure that your electrical outlets are protected from water damage by installing waterproof receptacles. Outlet covers will keep wet weather from causing any issues with your outlets.

Check for exposed wiring at ground level. These could get wet if they’re not covered with conduit.

Also, be sure that the wire itself isn’t damaged. This includes loose connections (such as loose wires), broken wire endings, etc.

 

Tripped Breaker

A tripped breaker indicates an overload condition. If there is too much current flowing through one or more circuits on the electrical panel, then the circuit breaker may trip.

If the light keeps tripping and has a fuse attached to it, it will more than likely burn out. You would then need to replace the fuse. You might also want to check for any loose electrical connections at the light fixture itself.

 

Bad Light Bulbs

One obvious reason why your outdoor lighting isn’t working is that the lightbulb sockets aren’t secure enough. Make sure that all bulb sockets are securely attached to their fixtures.

Don’t forget about those dimmers. Dimmers can cause issues with some bulbs working correctly. Verify that the bulbs you are using can work with a dimmer switch.

Damaged Fixture

With storms, strong winds, ice, and animals chewing up power wires, outdoor lights can easily be damaged. If this happens, the fixture must be repaired.

First, clean up any loose dirt or dust around the area before trying to repair anything. Next, remove the cover and check the fixture thoroughly. Check for any damaged glass lens (if there is one), are any screws missing, is there an issue with the lighting shade, are the mounting brackets tight and secure. Give the fixture a good once over to make sure nothing is loose or broken.

Next, repair any damaged parts like glasses, lenses, reflectors, and so on. Don’t touch the hot part of any light fixtures while working on them. Be careful when using any tool or material.

 

How do you keep your landscape lighting working year after year?

There are several ways to keep your outdoor lighting working year after year. Most of which are pretty basic and easy to do.

 

Clean regularly – Clean the lights frequently to keep them working properly and decrease the risk of corrosion

Check fuses – Make sure the fuses on your lights aren’t tripping. This could mean there is an issue with wiring or overheating in the light

Change bulbs – Use quality bulbs, and if you are using incandescent bulbs, you might want to switch over to led bulbs that use less energy and last much longer.

Install motion sensors – Add motion sensors to the lights or use lights with motion sensors. Not only does this help keep unwanted guests away, but you don’t have to waste energy keeping lights on all the time that don’t need to be.

 

outdoor solar light

Are Your Solar Lights Not Working? Here Are Some Common Problems & How To Fix Them

If you notice that your solar lights aren’t working anymore, it could mean one thing – the batteries are dead. But what do you do next? Well, there are some things you can try to fix it yourself. Here are some tips to help you out.

Are your solar lights turned on

Solar lights should be turned on before sunset. Most lights have an on/off switch on them, so make sure the switch is in the on position.

Did you Remove the Pull Tab for the Battery Compartment?

Often on new electronic equipment that comes with batteries, there is a pull tab placed in between the battery and contacts so that the light isn’t left on while in the store, which would result in killing the batteries.

Take a look at the battery compartment and remove that pull tab.

Test the light output

To test if your solar light is working, cover the solar panel and see if the light comes on. If not, then there may be something keeping the light from charging.

If the light comes on when you cover it but doesn’t activate at night time, there may be a source of light nearby that is throwing off the light sensor, keeping it from activating.

A Clean Solar Panel is a Happy Solar Panel

If you are having trouble getting your solar panels to light up, it could be because they aren’t receiving enough sunlight. Check whether the panels are dirty and clean them if they are.

Are you in a sunny spot?

Solar power is one of the most sustainable forms of energy we have today. So make sure that the solar panel is placed in a location where there is enough sun to keep the battery fully charged.

As long as the solar panel is exposed to sunlight, the amount of electricity generated should keep your light charged.

Try using regular batteries

If your solar lights aren’t working properly, there could be a few reasons why. First, it’s important to test your solar battery pack. You’ll want to make sure that the batteries are fully charged and that they hold up well over time. If your batteries are old, weak, or damaged, you might want to consider replacing them.

Let the light charge

Rainy weather may slow down the charging speed of your solar lights. It might seem like your lights stopped functioning because they’re not actually broken.

 

If you’re going to use the solar panel to power the lights, you should turn them off so they can fully recharge for two to three days. After it has recharged, you can then switch the light back on to see if it is working now.

 

What are the daytime lighting conditions?

Solar lights are great for outdoor use, but you must know what the weather conditions are like during daylight hours. If there isn’t enough sun, it won’t work properly. You’ll want to check the weather forecast to see how much light there will be throughout the day.

You can buy solar lights that automatically adjust to different levels of brightness based on the amount of sunlight. This way, you don’t have to worry about whether or not the light is working correctly.

If you’re looking to invest in high-quality solar lights, look for ones that offer multiple modes of operation. For example, some lights have a low mode where they provide just enough light to read by, and a bright mode where they shine brightly. They might even include a night mode where they dim down to conserve energy.

Conserve Power By Using Different Lighting Modes

Solar lights are great for illuminating areas around your home without having to use electricity. But they also consume a lot of power. If you’re looking to cut down on energy costs, it might be worth trying out a different lighting mode. There are three modes to choose from Standard, Eco, and Low Power. Each one uses less power than the previous one. Here’s how to switch between them.

Standard Mode

This is the most common setting. You’ll see the light bulbs glowing brightly. This mode is good for general illumination purposes.

Eco Mode

In this mode, the bulbs glow dimly. Use this setting when you want to illuminate small spaces like hallways or stairwells.

Low Power Mode

The bulbs won’t turn on unless there’s enough sunlight to charge them. This is perfect for outdoor applications.

Get in Touch with the Retailer or Manufacture

The best way to solve problems with products is to contact the manufacturer directly. If the problem persists, it could indicate a manufacturing defect. However, sometimes retailers are able to help resolve issues without having to go through the manufacturer. In some cases, the retailer might even be willing to replace the product.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of returning the item, try contacting the retailer. You’ll likely receive better customer service, and the retailer might be able to offer a solution.

You can use our guide to help you figure out whether you’re dealing with a manufacturer or a retailer.

outdoor string lights hanging on a line in backyard

What to do When your String Lights are on the Fritz

If you are looking to add some holiday cheer to your home this season, or some added lighting to your yard and pool area, consider string lighting. These decorative light strings come in many different styles, shapes, and sizes. They can be hung indoors or outdoors and even include LED bulbs. However, there are several things you need to know about how to troubleshoot and repair string lights.

Make sure the lights are Correctly Installed

First, make sure that the wire is securely fastened to the ceiling. If it isn’t, you could risk electrocution. To do this, use a ladder to reach up to the ceiling and gently pull down on the wires. You don’t want to accidentally cut one of the wires while trying to fix the problem.

Next, check each bulb individually to see if it is working properly. Pull out the bulb and look inside.

Next, check the power supply. This is where the electricity enters the house. Make sure that the cord is plugged into a grounded outlet. Also, ensure that the plug itself is firmly attached to the wall. If not, use a screwdriver to tighten it.

Finally, replace any broken bulbs.

Now that you’ve checked everything else, you’re ready to enjoy your string lights. Just remember to keep safety in mind.

Has Corrosion Taken Out your Bulbs

You know how it goes. You turn on your light switch, and nothing happens. Then you flip the switch again, and again, and again… And still no light. What gives? Well, there are many reasons why your bulb could be out. Here are some common problems and what to do about them.

Unseated Bulb – If your bulb isn’t seated properly, it won’t work. To check, open up the socket cover and pull out the base plate. Now, slide the bulb into place and push it down firmly. If it doesn’t fit snugly, try pushing it further into the hole. Once it fits securely, close the cover and test the bulb.

Corroded Bulb – A corroded bulb can cause flickering or dimming issues. In this case, you’ll want to change both the bulb and the socket. First, unscrew the old one and remove it. Next, clean the inside of the socket thoroughly and apply a little oil to the threads. Finally, screw the new bulb into place and tighten it down.

Check or Change the Fuses

String lamps often have fuses within the male socket end. To test the fuses, insert a working lamp into the broken one. If the lamp doesn’t illuminate on the second strand, then the problem lies with the blown fuse.

 

To solve the problem, start by unplugging the power cord from the wall socket. Usually, on the male end of the string lights, there is a small trap door that contains fuses for the light string. You will need to insert a small screwdriver into the hole in the trap door and slide it open. Inside, you’ll find two small fuses that you’ll need to replace.

 

Are the Shunts Damaged?

A shunt is an internal part of a light fixture that lets electricity pass through the circuit if one bulb fails. If you notice that some of your lights aren’t turning on, it could mean that there’s something wrong with the shunt.

LED bulbs don’t use shunts, so this would only apply to incandescent bulbs.

 

Replace Any Burned-Out Bulbs

If you find one burned-out bulb, don’t panic. You’ll be able to replace it easily with just a few simple steps.

The good news is that you won’t need to call a professional electrician to do this job. All you need is a multimeter and some basic tools.

Check Your Bulbs

Check each light fixture individually to make sure that none of them are broken. If you notice that a bulb isn’t lit up, use a multimeter to measure the voltage across the wires attached to the light fixture. Replace bulbs that no longer light up and have no current flowing through them.

What about LED Lights?

LED lights are a little different. You will need a bulb testing tool to see if an LED bulb is not any good anymore. Sometimes the bulbs on LED light strings are replaceable.

If the bulbs aren’t replaceable, then it may be best to just discard that string of lights. Repairing might be tedious and cost more than buying a new string of lights.

 

Why do Outdoor Lights Stop Working? Summing it Up

In conclusion, outdoor lights aren’t meant to last forever. They’re designed to light up your yard during the night. However, sometimes these lights fail. This can cause problems for homeowners who want their yards to look nice after dark since the lights keep shining through the night.

Luckily, there are several common causes for this problem, and fixing them is usually pretty easy.

 

Resources

Premier Pond

Utah Lights

Hunker.com