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!
We have received many inquiries regarding the various sizes of rechargeable batteries for solar lights. There are a few reasons why manufacturers choose one size over the other. They are as follows:
So, we will address each of these points above in further detail.
Item 1. A smaller battery will give the manufacturer the option to create a solar light that is smaller than what it would be had a larger rechargeable battery been used. Smaller batteries can store the same amount of energy capacity (mAh, or milliAmp hours) for each night’s use. For instance, a 600 mAh 1.2 Volt rechargeable battery can come in either a AA or AAA size. However, if you compare it to water flowing in a river, the AAA size is going to be a smaller river width, while AA batteries represent a larger river and thus more water can flow through. They will both flow for the same amount of time, only the AA will be able to provide more current (water, in our river example above) than its AAA counterpart over the same amount of time. The force of the water (ie: Voltage) is the same for both, only the AA will be able to provide more current and thus, a larger or demanding LED component (think, more current will allow for a brighter LED to be used). In the image above, two Lithium batteries with the same specifications are set side by side. However, the black battery is what is considered a 2/3 AA, while the grey battery is the more common AA size. The smaller battery will give the same output, but for a less powerful LED demand. The smaller battery is compact, but it is sufficient enough for a lower output illumination device (in this case, it was used in a solar spot light with 1 LED that was purchased from a big box store.) The advantage of the smaller battery is that it allows for a smaller solar light. The biggest disadvantage is that the replacements for these batteries are difficult to find, and when found, relatively expensive compared to their AA counterparts.
Item 2. The battery chemistry will play a factor in the design in a number of different ways. For one, the amount of electrical potential (Voltage) that a battery can provide will depend on the chemical makeup of the battery. AA Lithium ion batteries typically have a Voltage rating of 3.2 Volts; whereas the same size NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) or NiCd (Nickel Cadmium) will have a Voltage rating of 1.2 Volts. So, using a Lithium battery in a NiMH light will burn out the LEDs of the NiMH light almost instantly. The LED will be brighter than ever, but that moment in the spot light, so to speak, will end in a matter of seconds. So it is recommended to not use Lithium batteries in either NiMH or NiCd battery lights. Using a Lithium battery will give the manufacturer the option of increasing the LED load capacity (thus a brighter light), but will ultimately cost the customer more in the long run as replacement batteries for Lithium lights are more expensive.
Item 3. Since AA and AAA battery sizes are more common (AA moreso than AAA) than fractional sizes (such as the 2/3 AA in the photo above), costs for production have been set to allow for the best available pricing for customers worldwide. Being that AA batteries have been around since 1907, their production infrastructure has had plenty of time to develop and take hold on the battery market. There are square 9 Volt and larger Lead Acid rechargeable batteries on the market for use in solar lights. However, since they are odd shaped for the purpose of streamlining solar light designs, they are less commonly used and ultimately will cost more (also for the fact that they hold more energy) and are weighty.
Item 4. There are a number of chemical components that make up solar light rechargeable batteries. The primary distinguishing components are Nickel Cadmium (NiCd), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), Lithium Ion and Lead Acid. Developed in 1899 by Swedish inventor Waldemar Jungner, it would take NiCd batteries over 4 decades to hit the market for commercial consumption. At the time, the competitor for NiCd batteries was the Lead Acid battery. However, due to the latter’s dimension restrictions as a small and portable battery, NiCd took hold and was widely used as a consumer-ready battery. Not until 1989 (with subsequent years of development) was the NiMH battery introduced to the market as an alternative to its Cadmium-based battery. NiMH rechargeables are capable of a better performance over the long term (for solar garden lights, typical lifespan of both chemistries is about 2 years). NiMH rechargeables also use a mild toxicity chemistry as opposed to the heavy metal toxicity of Cadmium (which makes up about 18% of the battery). NiMH batteries are capable (although it is recommended to recycle them whenever possible) of being thrown out in the trash. Whereas NiCd batteries must be recycled/disposed of in the proper facility. Lithium Ion batteries are taking their hold on the market due to their unsurpassed performance compared to other chemistries. But their setbacks are their disposal at the end of their lifecycle (recycling costs more than mining, so they may likely be thrown in the trash), higher cost of the battery for the consumer and transportation restrictions.
So, with all the considerations above, you will be better able to find the right solar light for your specific project. All of the battery chemistries have proven to have working track records, but each have their own pros and cons. Just be sure that the specifications you are looking for match what your solar lights came with when you first purchased them. If you are still not sure about the correct solar light batteries to use, check out our previous posts on the subject. There is much to know, but it is all worthwhile as solar lighting has great potential when it comes to illuminating your home, garden and office exteriors.
Should you have any questions or like to have us discuss other aspects of solar lighting around your home, send us an email at email@example.com. Be safe and stay solar!
Mario @ Your Solar Link
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
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.
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.!
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.
Mario @ Your Solar Link
Everyone is talking about it and few have the answer to “where can I get some?” Well, they have now been added them to the online store at www.yoursolarlink.com. What are they? Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries for garden solar lights! And these are THE best deal anywhere. Only $20 for 10 rechargeable batteries (that’s 2 bucks a battery) delivered!
1. No memory effect. That means that they will charge to their rated capacity for the duration of their life cycle (about 2 years) in full sunlight. NiCd batteries will develop a memory of charging to lower capacities during cloudy days (say, it’s sunny for the first couple of hours then a storm moves in, thus only getting enough charge for part of the evening). Then, on the next sunny day, the battery will have a lower capacity (ceiling) to which it will charge. Thus, a memory of only being able to charge to 80% (for example) of its intended capacity.
2. No Cadmium! Cadmium is considered a toxic element and needs to be disposed of properly via recycling services. Many stores (Target, Staples, Best Buy, etc.) often offer receptacles at their stores where they accept batteries for disposal/recycling. This is the sure way to divert the Cadmium batteries from landfills. NiMH rechargeable batteries can discarded in the trash, but it is of course best to recycle them as with their Cadmium counterparts. Why use Cadmium batteries? They are cheaper than Metal Hydrides and are more readily available at many online stores…. until now!
4. Metal Hydrides are typically more expensive than Cadmium batteries, but not at Your Solar Link. They are the same price! So, you will be getting a superior battery at the same exact price, no strings attached.
These batteries go fast, but Your Solar Link is constantly replenishing their stock with NiMH rechargeable batteries and will be adding various mAh ratings soon. If they are sold out, just send them a quick message that you would like to get on the list to expedite processing for the next shipment.
Cheers from Your Solar Link!
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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