A few months ago, I installed these outdoor solar lights on my home. Of late, the lights stay on for hardly three hours after sunset. So, I was thinking of replacing the solar light batteries instead of the entire lighting units.
Can you replace the batteries in solar lights? Yes, you can replace the batteries in solar lights. You can easily replace weak or old batteries of solar lights with better quality batteries. Keep in mind that the new cells would not make your solar lights as bright as they originally were.
Homeowners replace the batteries of their solar lights for many reasons. It is essential to understand the different types of batteries you can use on your solar lights and the proper way of replacing solar light batteries.
Types of Solar Light Batteries
There are two types of solar light batteries, including :
- Nickel-cadmium (NiCd)
- Nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH)
NiCd batteries are rechargeable batteries with an average lifespan of one to two years. It is essential to replace your solar light batteries at least once per year because defunct batteries can affect the performance of your solar lights.
Some solar lights come with NiMH batteries. Users should understand the differences between NiCd batteries and NiMH batteries to choose the one that best suits their needs.
A reliable way of telling the difference between the two types of batteries is by reading the documentation that comes with your lighting or batteries.
- NiCd batteries contain harmful toxins and require proper disposal at the end of the lifespan.
- On the other hand, NiMH batteries are eco-friendly and usually perform better than NiCd batteries, even with constant recharging.
Fully recharged solar light batteries can provide an average of 10 to 12 hours of illumination. The lights will be brightest when fully charged and then begin to dim as the energy drains off with time.
Solar lights with quality batteries can provide adequate illumination throughout the night when fully charged.
Solar Lights Components
Four main parts make up solar lights:
- Photovoltaic cells
- Rechargeable solar light batteries
- Charge controllers
Why Solar Lights Fail
The primary cause of solar light failure is defunct batteries. Therefore, when your solar lights fail, one of the first things your technician will look at is the batteries.
For starters, rechargeable solar light batteries self-discharge. Therefore, they can self-discharge to the point that they can no longer hold energy even with a recharge.
The lifespan of rechargeable solar lights ranges between one and two years. Be sure to replace your solar light batteries once they reach the end of the lifespan.
You do not even need to wait until the actual end of their life cycle. You could replace the batteries a few months before the expected end of their life cycles.
If your solar lights are not as bright as they
used to be even with a full recharge, consider replacing the batteries.
Your solar lights may not be working correctly because the batteries are not charging as required. Solar light batteries that are not recharging successfully may affect the operation of your solar lights.
To ensure proper
charging of your solar light batteries, be sure to wipe the solar panel regularly.
The light’s solar panel may accumulate dirt and dust that can block sunlight
Signs of Dead Solar Light Batteries
Dead solar light batteries can cause your solar lights not to work correctly or not work at all. Finding out if your solar light batteries are dead can be quite challenging.
A reliable way to find out if your solar light batteries are dead is by replacing them with regular batteries. If the lights are still working, then the rechargeable batteries are likely dead. Be sure to cover the solar light if you are testing it during the day to trigger it to its on position.
For your solar light batteries to work, the panel needs to be exposed. A fundamental principle of solar lights is it relies on exposure to the sun to charge its batteries.
Place your solar light under direct sunlight for one of two days before replacing the batteries. If the light functions normally after this time, consider moving it to a different location where it will get maximum sun exposure.
Solar Light Storage
Take the batteries out in case you decide to store away your solar lights for a prolonged period. Removing the batteries before storage will prolong the lifespan of your solar lights.
Tips for Replacing Solar Light Batteries
- First, take your solar light and bring it to a clean and dry place. Make sure the light does not come in contact with dirt or water because it could affect its performance.
- Open the solar light by unscrewing its top. Most solar lights have the solar panel and battery housed on their top sections, just above the bulb. Some lights do not have screws. Therefore, you turn the top anticlockwise to open the light housing.
- As a safety precaution, be sure to switch off the light before touching the batteries inside the casing.
- Take out the batteries from the casing and put replacements of the same type.
- Turn the lights back on to test the new batteries.
- If the light does not switch on, the batteries may be drained. Leave the light in the sun for a while before testing again.
Replacing Nickel Cadmium with Nickel Metal Hydride
It s possible to replace solar light nickel-cadmium batteries with nickel-metal hydride batteries provided you match their specifications including size and voltage. The most important thing to remember is not to mix the two types of batteries.
Make sure the batteries inside the solar light are either nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal hydride, not one nickel-cadmium and one nickel-metal hydride. Your solar lights should have only one type of battery inside.
Replacing Nickel Cadmium with Lithium-Ion battery
Although it is possible to replace nickel-cadmium with lithium-ion batteries, it is generally not recommended. However, if you insist, you may have to modify the solar light’s connection setting to accommodate lithium-ion batteries.
You may still have problems with the batteries because lithium-ion has a higher discharge rate than nickel-cadmium, which may damage your solar light with time.
Tips for Using Batteries for Solar Lights
When replacing solar light batteries:
- Make sure they are fully charged before using them
- Charging the batteries before use will ensure that they last longer
- Consider replacing your solar light rechargeable batteries on an annual basis to ensure the batteries you have operate with optimum efficiency
How Solar Light Batteries Work
Batteries for solar lights work through a photovoltaic process. All solar lights feature photovoltaic cells that convert light energy into electricity. The cells consist of layers of chemicals that create positive and negative charges.
With exposure to the sun, the negative electrons in the photovoltaic cells are attracted to the positively charged electrons creating an electrical charge that is transferred through wires to the batteries.
The primary function of the battery is to store electricity for later use. At night, the batteries release the stored electricity, which powers the solar light’s LED lamps. Solar light batteries can come in handy, especially if you have solar lights that do not come with batteries. There are different types of solar light batteries including NiCd and NiMH. When replacing solar light batteries, it is essential to make sure the replacement batteries are of the same type.
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