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Replacing NiCd rechargeables with NiMH rechargeable batteries in solar lights, the better choice!

Posted By: Mario Villalobos on March 29, 2015 in Solar Gardening, Solar News - Comments: 8 Comments »

Many people have asked “can I use NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries in my solar lights that have NiCd (Nickel Cadmium)?”  And the answer is, yes!  Not only can you replace with NiMH, but they are the better choice of battery as they have benefits that their NiCd counterparts don’t.

AA NiMH rechargeable batteries for solar lights.

The powerful AA NiMH rechargeable batteries from Your Solar Link. 10-packs and 5-packs available. Image courtesy of www.yoursolarlink.com.

NiMH battery benefits:

1. Long shelf-life. They can remain unused for anywhere between 3 and 5 years. However, we recommend using your new NiMH rechargeable batteries sooner than that, gotta keep those solar lights shining. :)

2. No memory effect (compared to NiCd). NiCd batteries have issues with attaining a “memory” that will reduce the life of that kind of battery. NiMH can be partially charged (say, on cloudy days) and be fully recharged to their maximum capacity on the next full-sun day. There is a little discharge (trickle discharge) during storage, so it is best to put your NiMH batteries into your garden solar lights in the pre-dawn hours before a sunny day. Then they will be ready to go for your nighttime enjoyment.

3. NiMH rechargeables are considered more environmentally friendly than NiCd batteries. Cadmium is classified as a toxic element, so it needs to be disposed of properly. There are many recycling locations (from what we’ve seen, Target and Best Buy have drop-off bins at the front of their stores for battery recycling), but if for some reason they end up in the trash, NiCd are not good for landfills. NiMH batteries can be recycled (it is recommended), but it won’t be “bad” to toss them into the trash, should there be no options of recycling.

4. NiMH rechargeable batteries for solar lights are almost always more expensive than NiCd. But not at Your Solar Link! They offer NiMH batteries at the same price (and sometimes lower) than the NiCd counterpart. But never more! You won’t find a better deal than at Your Solar Link for NiMH rechargeable batteries, anywhere! They are priced to get your solar garden lights up and running with the best option available. The price you see is the price you pay: no hidden fees, shipping charges, sales tax (for our California customers), etc.!

Solar reading light from Your Solar Link.

Solar reading light batteries can be replaced with NiMH rechargeable batteries. Image courtesy of www.yoursolarlink.com.

Just remember, don’t mix the chemistries in your solar lights (if they take 2 or more batteries). Use only NiMH or NiCd, not one of each in your 2-or-more-battery lights. Also, typical lifespans of both batteries is about 2 years (of nightly operation/use). So, if you have had your solar lights for about 2 years and are noticing that the output is diminishing at night, it may be time for a replacement. Just be sure to go with NiMH rechargeable batteries. They are indeed the best option.

Solar on!

Cheers,

Mario @ Your Solar Link

Solar accent lighting.

Solar accent lights awaiting their NiMH rechargeable batteries for Spring! Image courtesy of www.yoursolarlink.com.

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  1. Tom Kuchlein Tom Kuchlein says:

    I have an older solar LED security light that came with and uses NICAD batteries. I know in your article you say that it is OK and actually a good idea to switch to NI-MH ones. My question is, since I’ve read that it is not a good idea to charge NI-MH batteries with a NICAD charger, would this not also apply to the built in solar charger that came with this older type of unit?

    • You are correct that when using a home-based 120 Volt battery charger that the exact chemistry should be used as per the chargers specifications. However, with respect to solar lights on the market, you can use the two chemistries (NiCd and NiMH) interchangeably when replacing old batteries. Be sure that if your light uses 2 or more batteries to use the same chemistry in each light. For example, don’t use 1 NiCd and 1 NiMH in the same light. Use either 2 NiCd or 2 NiMH. These two chemistries have the same Voltage, which is why they can be used in place of one another. Lithiums, on the other hand, have a 3.2 Volt rating (typically) which may damage the components (LEDs) of a NiMH/NiCd light.

      Hopefully this helps and that you are able to keep your lights up and running.

      Your Solar Link Team

  2. George George says:

    I have solar garden lights with rechargeable nicad AA 1.2V, and 900mah.
    Will my solar lights with 1 battery perform better with higher mah batteries e.g. 2450 mah, and still charge properly, etc., using nimh batteries as replacements?

    • Using a higher capacity (mAh) battery will not improve the performance of your lights. The size of the solar panel (how much energy passes into the battery during the day) will determine the optimum mAh capacity for your lights. 2450 capacity rechargeables are capable of storing more energy, but 900 mAh worth of energy will be used up each night and only that much will be collected during the day. Also, higher capacities cost more with no added benefit. It is best to stay at (or as near above) the original mAh capacity rating.

      You can use NiMH chemistry in place of NiCd chemistry. Just be sure not to use a Lithium chemistry in your lights as Lithiums have a higher Voltage (typically 3.2 Volts) which may damage the LEDs in a NiMH/NiCd light.

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Your Solar Link Team

  3. Zack Zack says:

    In a 60 LED solar light, could anybody simply swap out all 5 NiCD batteries for 2 LiFePo4 or 2 Li-Ion batteries?

    • Hello Zack,

      You might be able to do the swap for your device. It depends on how sensitive your device is to the excess 0.4 Volts that would result in using 2 x Lithiums (which typically have 3.2 Volts per battery). However, it is recommended to use the same batteries (you can use NiMH in place of NiCd) just to avoid any issues that could arise from the higher (albeit, slightly) Voltage Lithium rechargeables.

      Thank you for your inquiry and we hope you are able to get your device up and running again.

      Your Solar Link Team

  4. Doug Henry Doug Henry says:

    I have two rechargeable AA batteries that I want to recharge. My charger allows me to
    pick Ni-Cd or Ni-MH. Nothing on the battery notes Cd or MH. What would be best?
    Thanks DH

    • Hello Doug,

      If there are no specifications listed on the batteries, then it is a hit-and-miss on whether you can (safely) recharge them. It is possible that the batteries are alkaline batteries, which may only show the Voltage of the battery and no mAh capacity or chemistry specifications. Alkaline batteries are not safe to use in a home charger as the excessive current into an alkaline may cause the batteries to leak. Just to be safe, we would recommend not charging the batteries if no chemistry is listed.

      Hopefully this helps and that you are able to get your device up and running again.

      Your Solar Link Team

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