Solar lights are a wonderful way to brighten up an outdoor space when you don’t have electrical outlets or don’t want to use them.
Solar lights are also ideal for camping because you don’t have to rely on mains hook up.
If you’re out in the sticks with no plugs, a good solar light can guide you from the tent to the loo!
Solar lights are able to work at night because they create and store energy during the day.
The sun’s UV rays are captured by the solar panels and converted into power. This power is stored in the battery that sits inside the solar light.
Without the battery, the light would only be able to work when it’s in direct sunlight. Which is rather pointless!
As you can see, the battery is quite an important part of the solar light.
You want to choose the best battery possible or you’ll find that your light flickers off just when you need it the most!
We’ve pulled together a list of the best rechargeable batteries for solar lights. We’ll discuss their strengths and weaknesses so that you can make the best choice.
We’ve also put together a buyer’s guide which will help you understand what to look for in a battery for a solar light.
Sick of being kept in the dark? Here’s our top pick:
These batteries are our top pick for several reasons. First and foremost, the sheer value. You get 24 batteries for under $20 which means that it’s less than a dollar per battery.
Now, we could be cynical and say that they’re low price because they’re low quality. However, that is simply not the case.
The batteries work for 2000 charges which gives them a lifespan of 5+ years! Imagine not having to run around changing batteries for 5 years! That’s bliss!
Suitable for all weathers, these batteries have anti-leak protection which means that overcharging on long sunny days is not a problem.
They also have fairly low self-discharge meaning they won’t run themselves down on cloudy days.
They come pre-charged so they’re ready to use out of the box. They’re also free from heavy metals like cadmium meaning they are greener than some other rechargeable batteries.
You can choose the size of the battery and the pack quantity on the product page. This is handy if you need both AA and AAA batteries and want to use the same brand.
The only downside we can see to these batteries is that they have a capacity of 1000mAh which is lower than a few competitors. That being said, 1000mAh is more than enough power to see you through the night.
These are Amazon’s choice for rechargeable solar batteries and to be fair to them, they have some excellent reviews.
They have a large temperature range that allows them to work in temperatures between -4°F and 140°F. This is ideal for solar lights that spend all day in the sun.
Their capacity is fairly large at 1200mAh. It doesn’t touch the Energizer’s capacity but considering the price difference, we don’t mind. A pack of 20 costs less than 8 Energizer batteries.
The manufacturers claim that these batteries provided advanced anti-leakage because of their stainless steel shell.
Customers do tend to agree they are very pleased with the performance and longevity of these batteries.
The batteries come as a pack of 20 but within that pack, they are separated into fours and housed in plastic cases.
This is handy because it means you won’t have loose batteries rolling all over the place.
These are NiMH batteries that, according to the manufacturer, can be recharged over 1200 times. That would give you over 3 years of daily use in your solar lights which is pretty awesome!
One feature we really like is the temperature-controlled valve system. Both ends of the battery feature three large vents.
When the battery temperature reaches over 70°F the vents open and releases any internal gas.
This feature is wonderful for batteries that are going to spend their lives in the sunlight! It will help extend the life of the battery and prevent leakages that could damage your lights.
Another great feature is the low self-discharge. What this means is that the battery won’t use up its charge when it’s not in use.
According to the manufacturer, you could pick up one of their batteries after 3 years of non-use and it would still have 70% of its charge left.
Obviously, if you’re planning on using these in solar lights, they’re pretty much going to be used daily.
However, it’s good to know that on days when recharging is limited, the battery won’t waste what power it has.
You get 24 batteries in the pack which makes this a great value pack. You’ll be able to power a garden full of solar lights.
The batteries can operate in temperatures as low as -4°F and the vent technology means they’ll operate safely at high temperatures too.
Energizer is one of the biggest names in the battery world. Their batteries promise unparalleled performance and longevity.
These batteries boast a capacity of 2300mAh which is much larger than most of the other batteries on this list.
This means that you have a larger store of energy and can run for longer without needing to recharge.
Another great thing about these batteries is that they are made from recycled batteries. Ok, it’s only 4% but that’s a massive improvement on 0%.
If you’re environmentally conscious, these batteries are a good choice.
The major issue with Energizer batteries is that they are just so dang expensive!
This pack contains 8 batteries but it’s almost as expensive as other packs containing 24 batteries!
If you can afford Energizer, there’s’ no doubt they’ll serve you well.
However, you may need to remortgage your home to fill your solar lights with these!
I suppose the first thing you notice about these batteries is the luminous green color! You definitely won’t lose them in a drawer somewhere!
In terms of performance, there are lots of happy customers who vouch for these batteries. They seem to perform well in solar light, providing constant and even power throughout the night.
The product description does suggest that you use all of the pre-charged power before recharging them. This is to prevent recharge memory from kicking in. This is an issue more commonly associated with NiCam batteries. You can read more about it below.
Charge memory is less than ideal for solar lights. However, most customers don’t seem to have noticed much of an issue with it. It could be that the seller is being over cautious.
These batteries can be recharged up to 1000 times giving them a lifespan of over 2 years with daily use. It’s a pretty solid lifespan and means that you can get on with life rather than running around the garden constantly replacing batteries.
The first thing you should know about batteries for solar lights is that they must be rechargeable. Non-rechargeable batteries won’t be able to receive or store power from the solar panels.
Once non-rechargeable batteries run out they are essentially dead weight in solar lights. You might as well have just bought a regular battery operated light.
Before you rush off to buy some batteries, make sure you know what size you need. You might scoff, but we’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and come back with the wrong size.
Generally, solar lights will use either AA or AAA batteries. If it’s a particularly large light, it may use C batteries, but this is uncommon.
If you do end up with the wrong size, you could theoretically still use them. This only really works if you buy AAA in place of AA batteries.
You can use balled up aluminum foil to fill the gap between the AAA battery and the negative terminal.
You need to be careful and make sure that the foil doesn’t touch the other battery and that you only place it on the negative terminal.
Not all batteries are the same, even if they’re the same size. You see, batteries are made from lots of different metals.
Here are the most common kinds:
These batteries are pretty lightweight which makes them great for portable lights.
They don’t drop their voltage as they run out of power. This means your lights will shine just as bright with 20% of the power left as when they are fully charged.
The issue with these batteries is that you have to use them till they are dead before you recharge them.
These batteries tend to have memory charge issues.
This means that if you try to charge a battery on 40% the battery will remember that it only took 60% power to charge.
Next time you come to charge the battery it will only charge 60% before it thinks it’s full.
While alkaline batteries tend to be fairly cheap, they’re not typically suited to devices with a high drain. This is because of the deep discharge issue.
As such they’re less than ideal for solar lights which draw power for around 10 hours a day.
For solar lights, your best bet is NiMH batteries or Li-ion batteries if you can afford them. NiCad will do at a push, but you’re best off staying away from alkaline batteries.
Rechargeable batteries are not infinite. The materials within the battery degrade over time as it goes through more charging cycles.
These batteries have a fairly broad lifespan. In general, they last between 2-7 years depending on the kind of battery and its usage.
When rechargeable batteries reach the end of their lifespan, they stop holding a charge. You’ll notice that they don’t last through the night or don’t power on at all.
Rechargeable batteries are recyclable. When they’ve reached the end of their life with you, take them to a recycling point so that they can have a new life.
To find a battery recycling point near you check out https://www.call2recycle.org/.
You can indeed! NiCam and NiMH batteries have the same voltage so you are more than welcome to replace them with each other.
What you should not do is use them together in the same appliance. They each have different discharge rates which can increase the risk of battery leakage.
NiCad batteries will discharge faster meaning they will be empty sooner.
The NiMH batteries will still be working and you might end up reversing the charge on the NiCam batteries.
It’s always best to use batteries as a pack. As in keep to the same type and the same age.
We’ve all done the thing where we hunt for a battery or pinch it from another device. That’s ok in the short term.
However, to get the most out of your batteries it’s best to replace the bunch instead of one at a time.
Not really. You’ll see some batteries marketed as rechargeable solar batteries and they’ll claim to be designed for solar lights.
In reality, they are just NiMH batteries. Many solar lights used to be sold with NiCam batteries.
When NiMH batteries hit the scene some companies marketed them specifically as solar batteries because they were more appropriate for solar lights than NiCam batteries.
You don’t need to buy ‘solar’ batteries. Any rechargeable battery will do though NiCam batteries are better in terms of functionality.
Have you ever been to the beach or the park on a cloudy day and not bothered with sunblock.
When you get home you realize you’ve burnt even though you weren’t in direct sunlight!
Well, that happens because daylight is the real powerhouse when it comes to solar energy. Sunlight, as in the direct kind, is what makes us warm but daylight is what contains the photons necessary for solar power.
Direct sunlight will indeed charge your batteries quicker, but it’s not strictly necessary for charging.
On a cloudy or overcast day, your batteries will charge at about 40% of the speed of their charge on a sunny day.
If for whatever reason, you want to charge your solar light with another kind of light, you can. LED lights create enough UV light to charge a solar light.
It will take a fairly long time as they don’t produce a huge amount of UV light, but it can be done.