Can You Use Rechargeable Batteries in Solar Lights?

Your solar lights provide a steady source of illumination throughout the year, and if you have noticed them start to dull, then it may be time to replace the batteries. These little lawn lights get a lot of use. Even if you aren’t using them to light up your path, they are still in a constant cycle of charging and giving off light when it gets dark. So when it comes time to maintain them, it pays to know what kind of batteries you should use.

You can and should use rechargeable batteries in solar lights, and you should avoid using non-rechargeable batteries in them. When it comes time to replace them, you’ll need to pick suitable rechargeable batteries for your solar light. 

When you have to replace your batteries, you will need to know what kind are the best to choose. While some types of rechargeable batteries are interchangeable, consulting your solar lights user manual or looking at the old batteries will help you make the right decision. But before you start purchasing all new batteries, you should first understand how to tell if they need to be replaced. 

How to Tell is a Solar Light Needs its Batteries Replaced

There are a couple of ways to find out if your solar lights need new batteries. Remember that some issues may have multiple sources, and sometimes it is not just the batteries that need some maintenance. There are a few things to look for, including:

  1. Whether there is no light at night.
  2. If the lights are dim.
  3. If they don’t last as long as they used to.

If you see these symptoms, it’s time to check a few specific things before just swapping the batteries out. Other issues could cause poor performance, so we recommend the following troubleshooting.

  • Clean Your Light’s Solar Panel – If this is dirty, it will prevent the batteries from getting the charge they need to work. This may be causing dim light or a short light timespan during the night.
  • Check for Rusted Components – On the inside of the housing, you could have some corroded or rusted parts causing some issues. If this is the case, the light will probably not be turning on at all.
  • Inspect for Water – If the inside of your lights seems to have some water in there, this can also be an issue. Make sure you put them in a nice dry place to give everything time to dry off. And if they’re waterproof, this is an excellent time to confirm that the waterproofing is working physically.

If you’ve checked for all of these things and still haven’t fixed your issues, you will want to check the lights in question with a battery test. This is when you will replace the batteries with non-rechargeable ones and inspect to see if the lights will work in dark conditions. Note: This is the only time you will use a non-rechargeable battery in your solar lights. Steps to test your lights:

  1. Remove old batteries.
  2. Replace with new non-rechargeable batteries.
  3. Go into a dark space and cover the light sensor with your hand.
  4. If the lights come on in full force, you know the old rechargeable batteries need to be replaced.

And remember – this test needs to be done toward the end of the day after the solar light has been allowed to charge the battery from the sun. If you grabbed the unit in the morning, you know the battery will be empty. But we need to see if it’s working to store a charge.

Standard Solar Lights That Use Rechargeable Batteries

If you’re in the market for new lights, then you will most likely find ones that have rechargeable batteries. Most models will use these as it is one of the only ways to store the charge that comes from the solar panel. Without batteries, the bill has nowhere to go and dissipates almost instantly if not being used or captured. 

To help you source quality lights, we have found a few popular models with rechargeable batteries, including the following, which can all be found for a great price on Amazon: the INCX Solar Ground Lights, the Lbell Solar, and the Nekteck Solar Path Light. Each model uses rechargeable batteries to power the light when the sun goes down.

Choosing the Right Batteries for Your Solar Lights

If you are trying to replace your current batteries, you will need to know a little more about the different types you might encounter. When it comes to solar-powered lights, you will most likely find one of three different types of rechargeable batteries: Lithium-Ion (Li-ion), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), and Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)

They are also ordered in popularity, with Li-ion batteries fastly becoming the standard for solar lights. This is because the cost-efficiency ratio is becoming more reasonable for cheaper consumer electronics like solar lights. NiMH batteries are also reasonably popular and a better choice if you are worried about your battery choice’s environmental impact.

Consulting the user manual for your solar lights will help you determine what kind of batteries you should choose. But keep in mind that some are interchangeable, like NiMH and NiCd batteries, and some can only be replaced with the same type of battery, Li-ion batteries. One more detail to consider is the battery size.

What Are the Most Popular Battery Sizes?

Here is a quick chart to help you understand the different sizes of batteries you might encounter regarding rechargeable solar lights. Most of this type of information should be listed on the old batteries when you source new batteries though you may be tempted to go for a higher capacity battery.

SizeHeight Diameter
AA50.5 mm14.5 mm
AAA44.5 mm10.5 mm
2/3 AA31 mm14.5 mm

Should I Get Higher Capacity Batteries?

The capacity for your batteries will be listed as a mAh rating. This will usually be listed on the old batteries, but you should consult your solar lights user’s manual if it is not. While it might be tempting to go for a higher capacity rating, you should keep to the recommended rating for your solar lights.

Higher capacity batteries generally need a higher current to recharge them. This means your solar lights might not have the juice to keep them properly charged. On the other end, if you opt for a lower capacity rating, you may not have enough power to keep your lights on and bright throughout the night.

Choosing the correct batteries means you will be operating your solar lights in optimum conditions. This could not only extend the life of your lights but can also make sure they are nice and bright when you need them most. One thing you should always avoid, though, is trying to use regular alkaline batteries. 

Using Normal Batteries in Solar Lights

While it might be tempting to shove a couple of regular alkaline batteries into your solar lights, you could be causing a lot of damage over time. It will indeed work to keep your lights illuminated, but if you leave them in for too long, you could ruin your lights for good. A couple of things can happen in this case.

For example, regular batteries can cause corrosion in the terminals of the unit. You can sever the tie between the terminal and the rest of the lights, and it can also cause a build-up of corrosive material, which is a pain to clean. The only time you should put regular batteries in your unit is when you are testing to see if your rechargeable batteries are no longer working. Other than that, they should not be used for long-term operation.

Leave a Comment