One of the most common confusions people have while installing solar lights is about the type of battery that should be used to power it. And, of course, this is a reasonable concern for anyone new to the solar lights space because one obviously does not want to ruin their brand new solar lights because of running them from a battery that is not made for the specific purpose. So, in this article, I am going to answer all the questions that may have been boggling in your mind about the batteries used in solar lights.
The number one question that has been making rounds since the creation of solar lights is that, do you need special batteries for solar lights? The most simplified answer to this question is NO, you do not need special batteries to run your solar lights. Firstly, you need to understand the fact that when you buy a solar light, it already comes with batteries. The batteries that come with your solar light are obviously rechargeable batteries. And, in case you are scratching your head with despair after reading the term 'rechargeable batteries', then you can read the next segment where I have tried to explain and simplify the terminology for you.
Also, to learn everything that is there to know about solar light batteries and get all your questions, make sure that stick with me to the end.
Just to oversimplify things so you can easily understand the concept of rechargeable batteries, take the example of the battery that is present in your smartphone or laptop. You can easily recharge it once the battery is fully discharged and your smartphone or laptop dies. In the same way, solar lights use rechargeable batteries so that you can recharge their batteries every day by using solar energy.
Similarly, non-rechargeable batteries can not be recharged once they are dead. Examples of non-rechargeable batteries can be found in the batteries that are used in your TV remote, watches, and more.
Although, there are various types of rechargeable batteries like Lithium-ion batteries which are used in electric vehicles like Tesla, etc. But, here we are only going to discuss the types of rechargeable batteries that are used in running solar lights since they are the reason which has brought you here.
Basically, there are two types of rechargeable batteries that are used in solar lights, NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride), and NiCd (nickel-cadmium) batteries. I have discussed both these types of batteries below in detail and then have pointed out the one which is superior to the other one.
I would definitely not go into the technicalities here, you should only know that NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries usually have a lot of capacity and are larger in size. Plus, they are also beneficial for the environment as it is easier to dispose of them
NiCd (nickel-cadmium) batteries are not that large in capacity compared to NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries so they store a little less solar energy. And, they are also not so good for the environment as they have dangerous toxins which makes them quite hard to dispose of.
After looking at the benefits of NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries over NiCd (nickel-cadmium) batteries, it is pretty clear that it should be your battery of choice for your solar lights needs. However, if you still decide to use NiCd (nickel-cadmium) batteries for some reason, then there is no issue in doing that, too.
Whenever you buy a new solar light, it comes with batteries. But, the question that comes to one's mind is what is the expiration date of the in-house battery because we all know that batteries wear out with time and do not last forever. So, when should you consider getting it changed? Well, the standard batteries that come with your solar light should last you about a year before you will feel the need to change them. However, one thing to keep in mind when you are looking for a new battery for your solar light is that you should go for a battery that is similar in specs to the battery that initially came with your solar light. In this way, you can avoid your solar light from malfunctioning.
Despite what we discussed earlier, there is no universal rule that you should get your batteries changed in a year. In fact, some batteries can last you more than a year, so, the easiest way to check if the battery present in your solar light needs changing is by checking out if the bulb of your solar light is glowing perfectly. If so, then your battery is probably okay. However, in some cases, even when the bulb of the solar light is not glowing perfectly, the battery is still not at fault. In fact, the bulb itself is. So, I would recommend you to try a new bulb in this case in your solar light and see if it works. And, if it does, this means your solar light is fine. Similarly, if it does not, then your battery has had its days, and you will probably need to install a new one.
Let's assume that the solar light that you bought came with a standard NiCd (nickel-cadmium) battery, but after the initial battery has seen its days. You decide that you would be better off buying a NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) battery this time. So, the question here is can you do that? And the answer is definitely, you can change the type of your solar light battery as per your liking.
We have established the fact above that you can change the type of your solar light battery when installing a new one. But, where most people get confused is when you have to pick the specifications of the new battery. So, I will make it clear that even when you are shifting from a certain type of rechargeable battery to a new one, the specifications will still remain the same. For example, you were using a 400 MAh and 6 V NiCd (nickel-cadmium) battery with your solar light before, and now you are thinking of shifting to a NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) battery because it is superior. So, you will have to purchase a 400 MAh and 6 V NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) battery in order to replace your old battery and keep your solar light from facing any outage.
It is a fact that batteries do not last forever, and at some point, you will have to get them replaced. However, there are some practices that you can do to stretch the lifespan of your battery a little.
The number one thing you can do to prevent your battery from getting damaged is to keep it away from water or wetness, although most solar lights are water-resistant and water-tight. But, an exposed battery can easily get water damaged. The second thing you can do to increase the lifespan of your battery is to properly charge it, without over or undercharging. Also, on a cloudy day, if you feel that your battery is not that well charged, then it is better to give it a break on that day or charge it using your local grid, as putting a load on a discharged battery can have a negative impact on its health.
To get the optimal performance from your solar lights, you will need to make sure that you frequently change them when needed to. And, it is quite easy to get your hands on rechargeable batteries both from online and normal stores.