Solar lights are the perfect green alternative to brighten your indoor and outdoor space. Not only are they cost-effective compared to their electric counterparts, but they are also eco-friendly. Since their power source is the sun, no foul play is involved in their use that could harm the environment. These lights with ample charge can also illuminate your space for a long time.

Outdoor solar lights are specifically more in demand, considering their market is growing at a surprisingly high rate and will be valued at USD 24.7 billion by 2028.

However, nothing last forever, not even the highest quality motion sensor solar lights. The odds are that you have already changed their battery several times and engaged in some replacements. Still, they have given up, and it’s time to get new lights.

But the question is, what are you supposed to do with defective lights? Are you supposed to throw them the same way as other garbage? Well, the answer is clearly no, as the solar lights are recyclable!

You have been responsible towards the planet and probably your wallet by choosing them, so don’t be unresponsible while disposing of solar lights.

Read on to know what you can do.

How Can You Recycle Solar Lights?

Once your solar lights have reached the end of their life, please think twice before tossing them into the trash for waste disposal. They are eco-friendly, no doubt, but contain hazardous materials like lead and calcium that can present environmental troubles. Plus, solar panels have valuable materials such as silicon, aluminum, and other precious metals that should not be tossed in landfills.

On the flip side, you can’t easily recycle solar products compared to other electronics. There is an expensive process involved in their recycling, leading to very minimum facilities expecting solar waste. The number is much less in the US than in Europe for solar recycling units.

Therefore, the clever thing is to look for other methods. One thing that you can do is dismantle your solar light and then dispose of each item separately. A typical light, when broken down, contains rechargeable batteries, solar panels, a light bulb, a controller board, and the body – plastic, metal, or stainless steel.

Solar Lights


All types of solar lights use rechargeable batteries of one or other kind. In some cases, where they are working, you can use these batteries to power other things that are part of your daily life. But if they are not functional, disposing of them is the only choice.

They are hazardous materials that need to be treated the same as other household chemicals such as paint, thinners, pesticides, and even specific medications. Instead of putting them in your regular trash, they must be stored for pick up or drop off at local recycling centers where this type of waste is collected and disposed of. Most areas have annual hazardous materials picked, so lucky for them.

Light Bulbs

If a solar fixture uses LED light, you can dispose of it through your trash by placing them in a plastic bag for pickup by the curbside. Some solar lights, on the other side, feature halogen or fluorescent light bulbs that should be disposed of the same way as batteries.

The halogen bulbs come with tungsten, while fluorescent contains mercury, and both should not enter your trash at any cost. You don’t want to harm your environment and take back your good deed of choosing solar lights.

Other Components

When you break down your solar light unit, you will also see other parts of the light, such as a printed circuit board, solar cell, and photoresistor.

If you are someone with a keen eye for environmental projects, you can probably reuse them for something green and good. If not, you can pack solar light parts and share them with someone else or keep it with you for the next e-waste visit.


Lastly, when you have taken care of all the parts of the solar lights, you will have with you the remaining fixture. In some instances, the fixture body is made of glass, metal, or plastic pieces, making it partially recyclable.

Some parts of your fixtures are not easily recyclable. So, in that case, you can either discard them in an e-waste unit or put them in the trash after carefully removing everything else.

However, before you do the honor of throwing them, how about you consider some possible uses for them? For instance, you can use them for some DIY projects like candleholders, birdfeeders, and plant-holders.

Whatever you can think of!

Just brainstorm for ideas, and you will definitely come up with something.

Solar Panels

Solar panels can last for between ten to fifteen years. So, chances are your LED bulb or batteries have stopped working, but the panel will still stand firm. You can use a voltmeter to confirm if it isn’t dead. You must connect the solar panel with a voltmeter and expose the former to direct sunlight. If the reading is above one volt, it means the board is functional.

Luckily, you can use the solar panel with your gadgets such as flashlights, wrist watches, and calculators.

Solar Light

How Long Do Solar Lights Last?

Solar lights are a fantastic way to upgrade your home with beauty and functionality without adding excessive strain on your pocket. The LED bulbs feature two modes – warm white and color changing. The former is perfect for daily lighting. At the same time, the latter is meant for holiday decorations such as Christmas, get-togethers, barbeques, etc. You have to push one button to change the mode. Easy-Peasy!

The great thing about these solar-powered lights is they last between two to five years which is more than enough. However, at times, it could be more or less considering the type of batteries utilized and the exposure to sunlight. Also, some high-quality lights even go on for ten years before eventually wearing off.

In general, you can expect solar lights to function reliably for substantial years. And if the lights start to dim, you can upgrade them with changes until that is no longer possible.

The Final Words

The end is inevitable – all solar lighting will eventually stop working. But while you attempt to toss them aside to make room for new ones, ask yourself whether it is the right way to dispose of them. The answer would be no!

Despite being on the green team, they still contain harmful substances that can tamper with environmental health. So, it’s best that you consider recycling solar lights to keep them away from landfills and prolong the life of this renewable energy.

However, recycling solar panels is not a cakewalk in the US. There are no specific solar light recycling centers available. But since these lights are here to stay and on the rise, facilities and industries will surely develop for when they expire with time.

For now, as a general rule of thumb, how about you break down its components and recycle each part separately? The battery, led light, solar panel, and fixture can all be taken care of individually. You can also ask the shop owner or manufacturer if they have a recycling program for the solar lights.

Remember, you took the right step by choosing solar light, so don’t take the wrong action by not recycling.