Solar lights for the home and garden come with pre-installed, pre-charged batteries from most (safe to say, all) manufacturers when you buy them online or directly at stores. What many people don’t realize is that these rechargeable batteries will eventually run their course and lose all of their effective capacity after about 2 years of nightly use. These solar light batteries are almost always replaceable. And it is important to get the correct rechargeable batteries when the time comes.
Here are what you need to consider:
Sound confusing? It can be. But if you just stick with the same specifications as your original rechargeable batteries, then you are in good shape. In a nutshell, you can:
Remember to check the connections in the battery box and clean them when they get dirty or corroded. A light steel wool will usually knock off the larger particles and a little WD40 sprayed on a clean soft cloth will help to wipe way any leftover material. The less chemical action you can perform on the battery terminals, the better.
Remember to change out those older solar light batteries and stay illuminated this summer! Great thing about solar lights for your home is that they are 100% renewable energy lights, 100% of the time!
As summer comes to a close and your solar garden lights have had a good run for weekend barbecues and late nights on the porch, it may be time to replace the old batteries. Winter months are in fact the ones where lights are on the longest (think, coming home after work and it’s already dark out) and will have the greatest effect for use, illumination and enjoyment. One thing to remember when changing your the batteries in solar lights is to keep the chemistry consistent.
We now know that you can interchange a NiMH rechargeable battery (or more, if your solar light uses 2 or more batteries) with a NiCd rechargeable battery. Conversely, NiCd rechargeables can be used in place of NiMH, but we recommend using our NiMH rechargeable batteries whenever possible because:
This brings us to our point in question: Can you use Alkaline batteries as replacements in solar lights? Yes and no. But mostly…. no. As Alkaline batteries are not rechargeable, they will not drain completely each night, allowing for charge during the day to be stored from sunlight via the solar panel.
Think of it as a train moving down the tracks during daylight hours. The train is moving along fine with all of its momentum from the load it is carrying. Suddenly, a Mack truck is driving down the tracks for a head-on collision with the train. Assuming the truck isn’t annihilated by the train at impact, the energy from the train is still moving, but now with less force as the Mack truck is pushing with its own momentum against the train. As the sun sets and night falls, the truck has veered off the track and the train continues with its payload. The train has slowed down and will not go as far as it had initially planned for the entire trip. Dawn comes and that same Mack truck is back on the track heading straight for the train (you think the truck would have learned by now to stay off the track, but it is a persistent thing). The process is repeated until the train eventually stops well short of its final destination. Yet, the truck continues on the track waiting for the next choochoo.
This analogy is what happens when you put an Alkaline battery in a solar light. In the story above, the train is an Alkaline battery and the Mack truck is sunlight providing electron exchange via the solar panel into the non-rechargeable battery. With a rechargeable battery, the truck (sunlight) is filling the train (rechargeable battery) with energy during the day and is essentially on board the train during the night as it heads to its final destination. There is no competing or opposing energy between the two vehicles. And so, as a solar light generates energy during the day, it is collected and stored in the rechargeable battery. As the sun sets, this energy is released from the rechargeable battery and powers the LEDs of your light, giving you illumination. Each night, this energy is completely (or as near as possible) used up, leaving the rechargeable battery “empty” and ready for refueling the next day.
All of this daily stoppage caused by the truck takes its toll on the train tracks by leaving behind a residue that comes from the train’s engine compartment. Every day a little bit of fuel spills from the train and the leaks onto the tracks in front of the engine car, making it dangerous for the train to travel while creating a barrier which will make it near-impossible for the train to keep its traction on the iron tracks. Eventually, so much residue will be left on the track that the train is no longer in direct contact which will cause the train to stop moving altogether. This is equatable to the corrosion you will find on the battery and battery terminal of solar lights with prolonged use of Alkaline batteries. Corrosion can be cleaned off of the battery terminals, but often it is past the point of repair that will ultimately lead to the disposal of the solar light. Severe corrosion caused by Alkaline batteries can be cleaned off with a combination of brushes and baking soda diluted in water, but it must be done in a way that no water (or the chemical solution created by mixing the water with the corrosion) gets into the solar light which may damage the inner workings (ie: circuit board, wiring, LEDs, etc.) and thus render the light damaged even more than was caused by the corrosion alone. Excessive corrosion will break the contact between the alkaline battery and battery terminal, thus no energy will be delivered to the LEDs and you will not get any illumination at night.
So, you can use an Alkaline battery in a solar light to illuminate the LEDs; just be sure to do so for a short time (no more than a week or so is recommended) if you are waiting for your replacement rechargeable batteries to come in the mail. If you leave an Alkaline battery in your solar light for an extended period of time, the above scenario will take place and the battery will eventually leak and develop corrosion at the terminals. This corrosion can become excessive and possibly (most likely) damage the terminals of the light’s battery compartment to the point of disrepair. Corrosion may consist of Potassium Hydroxide, which is a caustic agent that can cause respiratory, eye and skin irritation.
If you are ever unsure about what batteries to use as replacements in your solar lights, be sure to do research beforehand just to err on the side of caution. If you are still not sure, contact the folks at Your Solar Link to get further information and a potential solution to replace your solar light rechargeable batteries. Stay safe and have a happy Fall Equinox!
Mario @ Your Solar Link
You’ve seen them. Maybe you didn’t know exactly what they were, but you’ve seen them. You’re driving along, listening to the latest Depeche Mode remix, and you notice that those street lights are different than what you remember from a decade ago. Yes, street lights are going LED (Light Emitting Diode). Some are going induction or halogen, but the point to make here is that they have been going away from that yellow HPS light that was prevalent a decade (or two) ago. However, as we have reached the middle of the second decade in the new millennium (yes, it’s 2015 already), technology has changed. And with it, we are going back to the white light at night to illuminate our streets, parking lots, and any other large exterior space.
Why go back to white light? First, it helps to give a true color to whatever is beneath the light (car, clothes, etc.) that helps with nighttime security (no more “they were driving a blue car, no green, no red….”; you get the picture). Second, it is closer to daylight color, so it is easier on the eye. And third, with LEDs, white light can be directed in a more controlled manner such that light pollution is greatly reduced as compared to their HPS predecessors. It is this third reason that interests cities and those who enjoy looking up to see the stars when outside of cities. As illustrated in the before and after images below, the lack of proper designs with HPS yellow lights created a haze of light pollution that spread beyond the ground they were intended to illuminate. The “after” picture shows how light on the ground is not compromised by switching to white LEDs, while the layers above the city are going back to dark, as it should. After all, we’re not trying to illuminate the air traffic above. Cheers.
So, the simple act of switching to LED fixtures for street lights is having a positive effect on security, near-natural light conditions and unwanted light pollution. Not only do we have these benefits, but LEDs outlast their predecessors by many years and use less energy to operate. Thus, the long-term costs of operation are greatly reduced and resources are preserved for future generations.
Now, it you want to take all that preservation, savings, efficiency and control of exterior lighting (cities, this is for you), then you can go off-grid with your street lights by cutting your ties to the utility company with the solar lights at SolTek Renewables. Their autonomous solar street lights include all the components to install a system that is comparable to (and often exceeds) industry standards while costing the user (and that would be you, the taxpayer) nothing in nightly operation. The only cost is that of a rechargeable battery (like the one in your car) replacement every 5 to 7 years (at today’s rate, that’s about $150 a battery). Not a bad deal for generating illumination that is controlled and owned by the city (again, that’s you taxpayers), doesn’t involve wars over oil, isn’t affected by black-outs or brown-outs, is free from utility company fees and their nasty increases, is as reliable (if not more so) than the conventional/grid-tied lights, and is a 100% renewable energy light.
To give you an example, a solar street light from SolTek Renewables costs anywhere between $4,500 (for your typical 1-fixture light you see along the streets) to about $6,500 for a dual-fixture light (that you see along the median of a multi-lane highway). Typical installation costs run around $2,000 a light (depending on your contractor). So, to install a light where there was not one before will run you about $6,500 to $8,500. Compare that to grid-tied lights that cost even more after installation (trenching, wiring, labor, etc. are not cheap, nor free) and have energy costs every single night they are on (and look around, they are on in the daylight as well. Not efficient at all.) Furthermore, you can have your solar street light up and running in a matter of 2 to 3 months. Compare that to the decades (yes, decades!) of planning, political rhetoric, etc. with conventional grid-tied lights. If there ever were a no-brainer, solar street lights are it!
Mario @ Your Solar Link
You may have seen the new light fixtures that are going up around town where the light is a very bright white light and it is all coming from a relatively small and low-profile fixture. Chances are that the fixture is one that uses LEDs as a light source. The advantage of LEDs are numerous:
1. LEDs produce very little heat compared to traditional lighting sources (incandescent, halogen, sodium and mercury vapor).
2. LEDs are a little more costly at first, but they quickly recuperate their costs with minimal energy usage over the long term.
3. LEDs are safer for the environment than induction lighting (that have about the same life-span) which require hazardous materials clean-up protocol due to the use of mercury in induction lamps.
4. LEDs come in a variety of color ranges (measured in Kelvin).
5. LEDs can be incorporated into a variety of housing styles and configurations.
As fixtures incorporate LEDs, their low-demand of energy allows them to be used in solar lighting applications. As energy demand is low, off-grid system autonomy increases with the use of highly-efficient rechargeable 12 Volt lead-acid batteries (very much the same as what is in your car) and smart controllers to regulate the amount of energy fixtures use each night. Typical autonomy runs for about 5 nights. That means that when the solar panels collect sunlight (about 2 to 4 hours) on day 1, then the LED fixture will continue to illuminate at night for the next 5 nights assuming that days 2 through 5 are completely cloud-covered or occluded.
Pathways and home use applications are also options for off-grid solar lighting. Large driveways or park pathways benefit with the use of the Lita, Lumina and Brighta series lights. As each light is a stand-alone and fully-contained unit, no wiring to trenching is required. So getting light to hard-to-reach places or where you may not have considered illuminating (think, the end of a boating dock or on a rocky surface) is achievable with the sustainable and 100% renewable energy lights from SolTek Renewables.
And let’s not forget lighting for smaller or design-specific applications such as signage lighting, interior lighting (within 40 feet of the solar panel) and event lighting. The SPG series allows for the solar panel, rechargeable battery (with integrated box) and smart controller (called an SPG) to be placed in areas where sun shines and a light fixture or fixtures can be placed away from the SPG unit. Spot, flood and bar lighting with a range of Wattages are available for each location. All fixtures again utilize LEDs to maximize the system autonomy while provided industry-standard white light.
Solar lighting from SolTek Renewables is here to stay and will bring the power of free energy to users and owners of their autonomous lights. No operating costs mean that money is immediately being saved and the environment is spared the damaging effects of dirty energy sources. Each light is a stand-alone unit that uses 100% renewable energy, guaranteed. Stay tuned for our next component (the solar panel) of the lights offered by SolTek Renewables.
Mario @ Your Solar Link
We recently had an inquiry about solar security lights and would like to share that information with all you solar enthusiasts and those who simply want to get security lighting up and running quickly. So, here it is…..
Letter to inquirer (abbreviated):
Juicebar Pocket Solar Charger.
This stylish, sleek and reliable pocket size Universal Battery Charger (Juicebar Solar Charger) is proven to be your best friend in a situation when conventional electric supply is not available or if you are trying to use eco-friendly renewable power supplies.
Great as a solar phone charger for any type of Mobile Phones, IPhones, PSA, PDA, Mp3 Players, Satellite Navigation, and much more.
Get it HERE.
SOLAR PATH LIGHTS.
Stainless Steel Conical Solar Path Light (Set of 2).
Path solar lights are an excellent choice for lighting your garden paths, walkways, driveway perimeters and other regions in your landscape. They are often used in multiples to guide the way along a set of stairs or a dark walk.
Featured Stainless Steel Solar Light set uses 2 ultra-bright LEDs for maximum light output and minimum battery usage.
The lights are safe around kids and pets and water and corrosion resistant.
Read more HERE
STONE SOLAR SPOT LIGHTS.
Stone Solar Spot Lights (also known as Solar Rock Lights) completely camouflage with existing landscapes and look like any other rock in your garden.
SOLAR GARDEN FOUNTAINS.
How to start using ecologically friendly energy to power up your garden fountains and other garden water features?
Why not go with a solar powered water pump?
To accommodate your needs the Solar Fountain Pump Systems we carry range from 2 to 8 Watt. Browse our collection of solar water pumps for your fish ponds and solar fountains.
Enjoy your garden water features and your energy savings at the same time. Make a note of the various power levels and the flow rate of the solar water pumps before your purchase.
Please write us your review after your purchase. Your opinion is important to us!
DECORATIVE SOLAR ACCENT LIGHTS.
Solar accent lights (Set of 2) create an enjoyable and inviting glow for your landscape.
They are designed to mark a place.
Solar Spot Light - $26.99
Super High Output Spot Light (4 Super Bright LEDs). Free Shipping!
Solar spot lights like this one rely on energy from the sun to charge their batteries and provide light throughout the night.
This means that there is no need to tap into the electrical grid for these lights to operate.
The solar spot lights will work consistently, even if the whole neighborhood is dealing with a power outage.
Learn more about Solar Spot Lights at http://www.yoursolarlink.com/solar-spot-lights, where we have a great selection of solar spot lights to choose from.
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