What happens if you put regular batteries in solar lights?

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.

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.

Unreliable performance

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.

Warranty cancellation

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.


You may temporarily use regular batteries to illuminate your solar LEDs.  However, for the long-term operation of your solar lighting units, take time to purchase the appropriate battery option in order to avoid having to replace your entire solar lighting systems due to the damages caused by regular battery usage.

Solar Light Battery FAQs:

What batteries do I use in my solar lights?

Solar Lights use various types of rechargeable batteries. For example, Solar Garden Lights usually use Ni-Mh or Ni-cd Batteries, and Solar Street Lights use Lithium-Ion or Lead-Acid Batteries in older models.

Is it worth replacing batteries in solar lights?

Yes, it is often worth replacing the batteries in solar lights rather than discarding the entire unit. New batteries can significantly improve the performance and lifespan of solar lights, allowing them to charge more efficiently and provide brighter illumination. This is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to extend the life of your solar lights.

What is a solar battery?

Solar battery are a type of rechargeable battery made up of various chemical compositions. They are designed to store the energy collected from solar panels during the day and power outdoor lights at night, such as solar-powered garden lights, pathway lights, or security lights. These batteries are essential components of solar lighting systems and allow the lights to function independently from the grid, making them an eco-friendly and cost-effective lighting solution.

Which battery is best for solar?

The best type of battery for solar lighting applications is deep-cycle batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries. There are various lithium-ion batteries, and all are designed to withstand frequent charging and discharging, making them ideal for storing energy from solar panels. Additionally, they have a longer lifespan than other types of batteries, making them a reliable choice for solar energy storage.

Can I use normal batteries in solar lights?

Using normal batteries in solar lights is not recommended. Solar lights typically require deep-cycle batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries, which are devised to withstand routine charging and discharging. These batteries are better suited for storing energy from solar panels and have a longer lifespan than normal batteries. Also, each solar light controller will be programmed to work with a particular battery type.

What is the lifespan of solar light battery?

The lifespan of a solar light battery can vary depending on its quality, battery type, and usage conditions. It's important to note that the conditions under which you use your solar light can significantly impact its battery lifespan. On average, a good-quality solar light battery can last 1 to 6 years. However, with proper maintenance and care, the battery's lifespan can be extended.

Why do solar batteries fail?

Solar batteries can fail due to a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Deterioration of battery components over time.
  2. Overcharging or deep discharging is done by keeping the battery idle for long periods.
  3. Exposure to extreme temperatures.
  4. Manufacturing defects.
  5. Incorrect installation or maintenance.

What are the 4 types of solar batteries?

The 4 main types of solar batteries are lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, lithium-ion and flow batteries. Each type has advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to consider your specific needs and requirements when choosing a solar battery.