Solar lights are known to be energy-efficient outdoor lighting units which absorb solar energy through solar panels, convert it into electric energy and store this in rechargeable batteries for future use. Solar lighting units keep charging during the day, which means there is a constant flow of energy. The battery charges and drains as the lights operate from dusk to dawn. Depending on the type, solar batteries usually have a total lifespan of 2 to 5 years, after which they start storing less energy and the performance of your solar product begins to decline.
In a solar light fixture, the rechargeable batteries are already included which makes the installation of solar lights effortless. Batteries are very important to the function of your solar lighting systems. Solar lights use NiMH, lead acid, lithium-ion or LiFePO4 batteries, all of which are accessible rechargeable batteries. Worn-out batteries need to be replaced for the solar lights to provide optimum lighting. Finding a replacement solar battery is not a difficult job but it is important to choose the right batteries for your solar lights.
So, can you put regular batteries in solar lights? Actually no. Regular batteries like alkaline-based batteries are not a good choice for solar lights, mainly because they are designed to be disposed of when they run out of juice. These batteries obtain energy from the zinc metal and manganese dioxide reaction. They are not rechargeable batteries and using them in solar lights can permanently damage the entire solar unit. However, regular batteries may be used to power your solar lights for short periods until you make arrangements for solar batteries.
Traditionally, solar street light used lead acid batteries which were well known for their tolerance to overcharging and low self-discharge and were relatively inexpensive. Modern solar street lights use lithium-ion or lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries as they are lightweight and compact in size. They have a longer lifespan and have great environmental compatibility. Solar garden light mostly use Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries which are less prone to memory effect and work perfect for smaller solar lights.
What are the dangers of using non-rechargeable batteries in solar lights?
Permanent system failure
Alkaline batteries are not capable of storing collected charge, which will result in charging problems and irreversible system damage.
You cannot expect a smooth performance from regular batteries as they are not designed for solar lighting units.
Corrosion of terminals
Regular batteries can rapidly drain and corrode the battery terminal of your solar lights. When corrosion happens, the connection between the battery and its terminals may get disrupted, blocking power from the battery reaching the light.
Solar lights come with a warranty and warranties are valid only if you adhere to the manufacturer’s terms and conditions. The warranty can be voided if you use the wrong battery in your solar system. Moreover, the warranty does not cover any damages caused by wrong battery usage.
How to improve the lifespan of rechargeable batteries?
Life expectancy of solar batteries is determined by their usage cycles. Lead acid battery is expected to give around 300 to 700 cycles and lithium batteries provide almost 2000 cycles. In other words, the estimated life of lead acid batteries is around 3 to 5 years, lithium ion batteries have a lifespan of 2 to 3 years and LiFePO4 batteries usually last for 5 to 6 years.
Always purchase your solar lights from a reputed manufacturer/dealer. The battery must have a good manufacturer warranty.
High temperature settings can adversely affect the life cycle of your battery; therefore, install your solar lights in a climate-controlled location.
Do not store your solar batteries inside or leave them idle for too long as they are likely to be damaged when not charged and discharged regularly.
Learn about different types of solar batteries and what goes into your solar lights.
- Keep your solar panels clean for better illumination and longer battery life.