Do Solar Garden Lights Need Batteries?

Solar lights are a great solution for your outdoor space all year round. From your backyard and garden to your patio or balcony, there are many different uses for solar-powered garden lights.

Regardless of where you use this environmentally friendly solution, solar lights will not only contribute to the environment but they will also allow you to save money on electricity bills.

Now that you’re considering buying your first set of solar lights, you might be wondering whether solar garden lights need batteries to work properly.

In this quick guide, we will explain why solar lights need batteries and we will go through the best rechargeable batteries for solar lights.

In addition, we will answer our customer’s most frequently asked questions about solar lights for the garden.

So, let’s get started!

Do Solar Lights Need Batteries?

One of the most common questions from our customers is whether solar lights need batteries to work. So, let’s get straight to it!

In short, solar lights need batteries to work efficiently. Solar garden lights need batteries to store electrical energy, which can be used to power the lights at night without a supply of electricity.

Why do Solar Garden Lights Need Batteries?

Batteries are a key element of a solar light’s electrical system. You will find that almost every solar light has a solar panel with a battery inside. 

When the solar panel converts sunlight into usable electrical energy, this energy needs to be stored somewhere. Solar garden lights require batteries because they need to store the energy collected by the solar panel, so that they can output that energy when they no longer have a light source.

solar light's panel with 1 battery inside

Therefore, solar panel’s photovoltaic cells are usually wired directly to a battery. Once the electricity produced by the solar panel starts to flow, the batteries are charged and the electrical power is stored. At night, in the absence of light, the batteries release this energy, which allows solar lights to turn on automatically.

Without batteries, the solar lights wouldn’t be able to store the energy absorbed from the sun, which means they would only work when there is sunlight, during the day.

Read more: How do solar lights work? 

Do You Need Special Batteries For Solar Lights?

If your solar lights stop working, it will likely be due to the batteries being worn-out. As much as solar batteries are reusable and rechargeable, they eventually lose their capacity to hold a charge.

Whilst this doesn’t happen often, it is important to know what types of batteries can be used in your solar garden lights.

Solar lights require special batteries, such as rechargeable batteries, to work properly. Almost all solar garden lights will use either a NiCad (Nickel Cadmium) rechargeable battery or a NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) rechargeable battery. 

Special rechargeable batteries for solar lights

Both batteries are widely available at both local shops and supermarkets and they’re also interchangeable, which means you can use whichever you wish regardless of the model of your solar lights. You should never use regular alkaline batteries as they’re designed to be disposed of once they run out of power.

Do Regular Batteries Work in Solar Lights?

Another common question from our customers is whether you can use regular batteries in solar garden lights.

The short answer is no. Regular batteries do not work in solar lights in the long term. If you use regular alkaline batteries, they will last only a week at most. You can’t use regular batteries in solar garden lights because they are designed to be disposed of once they run out of power. 

Moreover, regular batteries can damage your solar lights to the extent that you may no longer be able to replace them with rechargeable batteries.

Therefore, you need to use rechargeable batteries in solar garden lights because these batteries will be able to recharge every day with the power collected by the solar panel.

Batteries for Solar Garden Lights

There are 2 batteries that you can use in solar garden lights:

NiMH Rechargeable Batteries

NiMH rechargeable batteries are the highest-quality solar batteries currently available. These batteries have an incredibly high storage capacity, which means that they can generally power your solar lights for a long time. In addition, NiMH batteries have a strong memory and they are also an environment-friendly solution.

NIMH rechargeable batteries for solar lights

NiCad Rechargeable Batteries

Nickel-cadmium batteries, also known as NiCad or Ni-Cd batteries, are rechargeable batteries that will give your solar lights a decent light output performance. Though these lights usually last 1 to 2 years, they often suffer from memory problems at the 1-year mark. This means that they might forget the ability to achieve a full charge over time.

NiCad rechargeable battery for solar garden lights

Which Battery is the Best for Solar lights?

If you’re looking for a battery that will last a long time, you should opt for NiMH rechargeable solar batteries because they store twice the capacity of the standard NiCad, which means they offer brighter illumination and that the solar lights will stay on longer. 

Additionally, NiMH batteries have a better memory system than the standard NiCad batteries, which means that they will rarely forget the ability to achieve a complete charge over time. 

Finally, NiMH batteries also have an edge over NiCad batteries when it comes to the environment. NiMH batteries are more environmentally-friendly as they don’t contain any harmful elements.

How Often Do I Need to Replace Solar Light Batteries?

For optimum illumination, you should replace your solar light batteries at least once a year. If you use Ni-Cd batteries, then it is recommended that your batteries are replaced once every 6 months for best results.

On average, a rechargeable solar battery will last between 1 and 2 years. This will depend considerably on the brand, quality, and the type of battery that you use in your solar lights. 

You can also expect to see a decline in the brightness and performance of your lights during that time frame. Consequently, if you notice that your solar lights have considerably diminished in brightness and overall performance, it probably means that you need to replace your solar light batteries. This is commonly the case during Winter.

solar garden lights at night
On the picture above, you can see OutdoorLights' color changing solar decking lights. Similarly to other solar decking lights, it is recommended that the batteries for these lights are replaced every 6 months for optimal brightness and lasting performance.

Learn more

If this blog post has answered your question or if you would like to learn more about all things related to solar garden lights, please visit our outdoor lighting blog. You can also visit our garden lights store.

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