How to repair and clean a cloudy solar cell plastic light

Written by skip shelton Google
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How to repair and clean a cloudy solar cell plastic light
Solar-cell lights harness the sun's energy in batteries to provide power after dark. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Solar cell garden lights collect and store energy during the day. At dusk, the lights turn on and produce a soft glow as long as the stored energy lasts. A clear plastic housing covers the solar cells. The clear plastic clouds and yellows, over time, due to oxidation, UV degradation, exposure to acid rain and other environmental damage. Restore clarity to the solar cell lights by removing the damaged outer layer of the plastic covering the solar light.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Soft Cloth
  • Scouring pad
  • 600-grit wet type sandpaper
  • 1200-grit wet type sandpaper
  • 1500-grit wet type sandpaper
  • Car wax

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Wash and dry the plastic surface covering the solar cell. Use a scouring pad to remove any tree sap, dirt or grime that would clog sandpaper.

  2. 2

    Wet-sand the surface of the solar light with 600-grit sandpaper. Wet the surface of the plastic with water. Sand the plastic surface with 600-grit sandpaper, using a circular motion. Keep the sandpaper and plastic surface wet to prevent clogging of the fine sandpaper surface. Sand the surface until the outer damaged layer is completely removed.

  3. 3

    Brush away any fine particles left on the surface of the solar light. Wash and dry the plastic surface to remove any embedded particles. Repeat the wet-sanding process with 1,200-grit sandpaper to remove the dull haze left behind from the 600-grit sandpaper.

  4. 4

    Rinse and dry the surface to remove fine particles. Inspect the surface of the solar light for sanding marks that dull the appearance and clarity of the plastic. If necessary, wet-sand the surface using 1,500-grit sandpaper to polish away any fine marks. Keep the sandpaper rinsed and wet to ensure no clogging of the sandpaper or marring occurs.

  5. 5

    Wash and dry the solar light. Apply a car wax containing UV blockers to the surface of the plastic. Buff away any residue with a soft cloth. The car wax will help prevent future clouding. The wax layer will not interfere with the operation of the solar cell.

Tips and warnings

  • After initial sanding, the surface will appear dull due to the scratches from the sandpaper.
  • Do not press hard against the surface of the solar lights. Clouded and degraded plastic may not support strong pressure and may crack. Allow the sandpaper to strip a layer of plastic off, rather than forcefully remove it.

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