There is one major issue with solar lights that anyone who uses them will encounter eventually. The question of how to charge solar lights without sun is always in the back of any solar light owner’s mind. Is it possible to charge your solar lights when the sun is behind clouds? What if you have solar panels for inside use? Without the sun, how to charge your solar lights becomes the only question on your mind.

Luckily, when the sun goes down, your solar lights won’t have to die with these alternative charging methods. No matter the situation, there is a way to charge solar lights without the sun. Your power will admittedly be less than with direct sunlight, but whenever a cloudy day comes, there are ways to work around the issue. Don’t let the lack of sunlight affect your solar power – charge your solar light via an alternative method of charging.

So what are these methods of charging solar lighting without direct sunlight? Well, it all depends on the situation you find yourself in. Should you be charging solar lights outside, you’ll have an easier time keeping your battery up than you would indoors. With that being said, there are more alternative ways to charge a solar light inside than there are outside. Here are some of the best ways to charge solar lights without sunlight.

Will Solar Lights Charge Even on Cloudy Days?

First, we need to address one of the most common questions regarding solar panels. The issue that many bring up when arguing against the practicality of solar panels is that on a cloudy day, they’re rendered useless. Once winter rolls around and direct sunlight is hard to come by, it becomes impossible to charge solar lights, right?

Wrong. Even on a cloudy day, solar energy can be found in abundance and is easy to gather for your solar cells. It might not be the best way to fully charge your solar light source, but there is still solar energy to be gathered. We’ll mention ways to get the best results possible from indirect sunlight, but for now, it’s important to know that charging on cloudy days is still an effective method.

So to the question of whether or not solar lights will charge on a cloudy day, we say this: Yes, you can charge your lights, even on a cloudy day. It won’t be as fast or effective as a sunny day, but many solar panels can store enough energy from a cloudy day to power an entire house for multiple days. Indirect sunlight is still a powerful method of charging.

The same can be said during the winter as you’re most likely only getting indirect sunlight throughout the day. However, as long as you take care of your solar panels, there will be enough light to collect solar energy to power the home. With that being said, if you’re living off the grid with solar energy as your only power source, it might be useful to add a solar panel or two for the best results. Your power intake will be limited during the winter, so rationing might also be a smart idea.

How to Charge Solar Lights Without Sun Indoors

For many of us, having a way to provide light to our indoor plants is a must. Finding a clean alternative to your typical light sources can be difficult as the process to charge a solar light indoors is a bit more tricky than outdoors. In many cases, there is still indirect sunlight to harvest – we will mention how to collect that solar energy – but there are other situations where you have no access to sunlight. Here are the best ways to charge the solar lights without sun.

Incandescent Light

This might come as a shock to many, but it is entirely possible to use an incandescent light as a power source for your solar panel. The solar cells in your solar panels can be tricked into thinking the energy from incandescent lights is actually sunlight. By using incandescent light to charge your solar panel, you’re effectively cheating the system and tricking your device into working.

It is important to note that an incandescent bulb is not a direct replacement for sunlight as this process will take much longer to reap the full benefits. However, should the situation arise where you need power now and there’s not enough light outside for an effective charge, then using an incandescent bulb is a great way to charge solar lights without sun.

LED Lights

Another fantastic answer to the question of how to charge solar lights without sun, specifically for indoor solar lights comes in the form of LEDs. Much like incandescents, you can position your solar panel beneath an LED light or point the LED light at your solar panels for an effective charge. Using LED light to charge your solar lights is a fantastic method of gathering energy for indoor use.

The whole process is similar to the incandescent in that the LED lights effectively trick the solar panels into thinking they’re collecting sunlight to use as a power source. Again, it’s important to note that this is not a replacement for sunlight, simply an alternative method that allows you to use solar lighting indoors. The use of other lights is a fantastic way to gather energy when the sun isn’t available.

Using Reflective Surfaces

Let’s assume that the sun is behind clouds or isn’t reaching the spot where your solar panel is positioned. Mirrors are a fantastic way to collect sunlight for your solar lights. By positioning a mirror or another type of reflective surface so that it collects direct sunlight and sends it towards your solar lights will help charge your device throughout the day. This method effectively repositions the sunlight so that it can be collected by your solar panel and used as an energy source.

This turns indirect sunlight into direct and allows for a faster, more efficient charge. Now, you can use solar panels anywhere in your home as long as your mirrors or reflective surfaces allow the sunlight to reach them.

Position Near a Window

This is a simple way to charge your indoor solar light, but it requires a device that can be easily moved. Some solar lights use heavy panels that need to be affixed to a certain spot, therefore making window positioning impossible. If you have a small solar light that you can move around without damaging it, then positioning it near a window will be a great way to collect light whilst indoors. Should the sun be covered by clouds, you’ll still be able to collect energy, even with the two protective layers.

Stay Away From Other Types of Light

Other types of light can harm your solar lights. A light source like a porch light or street light can cause the light sensitivity of your solar light to decrease over time, making it more and more difficult to completely charge the device. These harsh lights can leave your solar light struggling to collect enough energy to power anything after years of exposure.

How to Charge Solar Lights Outdoors

Mirrors Again!

The same principle of positioning mirrors or reflective surfaces to turn indirect into direct sunlight is applied for the outdoors. Many places where you need light throughout the night won’t be in a spot where the sun shines bright during the day. Regardless, you need a solar light there, so having a way to collect solar energy throughout the day will be necessary. For these situations, a mirror will be the most effective way of collecting energy for your lights.

Position in the Best Place for Limited Sunlight

Some spots can’t be helped and a solar light needs to be placed where it needs to be placed. However, when you have the ability to move your device into a spot where the sun sheds even a bit of light for the panels to use, then you should try to do so. Even the smallest, indirect sunlight will be useful for your devices and should be sought out.

Consider an Alternative Power Source

Some situations could prove to be too difficult to find a source of solar power for your panels. It’s for times like these that alternative power sources are a key feature in any solar device. Situations like camping where you’re away from the house with no access to other sources of energy are where an AC or DC power source will come into play.

Alternative Methods to Charge Solar Lights Without the Sun

You never know when an emergency will strike. However, with the proper adapter, your solar lights should be prepared for any situation. Here are three of the most popular alternative charging methods for solar lights.

DC Power Sources

One of the best and most effective alternative sources of power for a solar light is DC power. Most solar devices come with a DC adapter so that you can charge even when the sun is down. Simply plug your solar panel into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter and let the device charge. It’s not nearly as efficient or as safe as using the power of the sun, but when the need arises, this is a fantastic way to ensure that you have power when you need it.

AC Power Sources

In a similar vein to the DC source, using AC power is another great alternative to solar power. Much like the DC power sources, it’s not as efficient or eco-friendly, but in an emergency, it’s ready to go. The only issue with AC power is that not every solar device is equipped for it. Many products utilize DC power because they know that there will usually be access to it. Some products offer AC charging, but not all of them.

USB Charging

Even less common, but growing in popularity is USB charging. Newer solar devices have begun to implement USB charging capabilities so that you can charge your device via a laptop or wall plug. While it’s new, it is an eco-friendly alternative to solar power. Again, it’s important to note that none of these alternatives are as efficient as direct sunlight, but should the need arise, they are a fantastic backup option.

Here are different ways on how to charge solar lights without the sun.

Taking Proper Care of Your Solar Lights

In times like winter, taking care of your device is more important than ever. By taking care of your device, you’re helping to expand the amount of power it can take whilst the sun might be gone. These are two of the most important steps you can take to fully care for your solar lights.

Clear Any Debris

Whenever you’re using indirect light, you’ll need to ensure that your solar light is cleared of any debris or snow so that it can make the most of the little light it has. You’re already limited by the lack of direct sunlight, so preventing any build-up or further sun blocking will help you to get the best results possible. Keep your solar lights clean and clear of any debris or snow coverage so that as much sun as possible can get through. This is also beneficial to the longevity of the device.

Turn Your Lights Off While Charging

To get the best charge possible with the limited power you have, it’s best to turn the device off so you’re not instantly wasting the power it’s picking up. This helps it build up as much power as possible so that it can charge fully and store power. Once it’s ready to go, you’ll be able to use the device to its maximum potential. We recommend turning the device off for 72-hours to let it get a full charge.


So, to the question of how to charge solar lights without sun, we say there are many different methods you can use. Whether you’re indoors or outdoors – indirect or direct – or simply unable to access any solar power, there are plenty of methods for charging your solar lights. Keep power long into winter or throughout the rainy season by utilizing any of the tips we mentioned above.

If you have any further questions about charging your solar lights without direct sunlight, we have the answers you’re looking for! Leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to address any further inquiries about your solar light. The sun is a powerful energy source, but even it can sometimes fail to fully charge your solar lights. No situation is hopeless, however, and chances are we have an answer to help you out!

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