We are currently in the midst of a green revolution when it comes to energy. This eco-friendly adjustment is steadily encompassing all aspects of our daily lives, from electric vehicles to all manner of solar powered appliances.
Outdoor solar lights are just one of the many technologies that are making huge strides, from deck lights and pool lights to solar lights for illuminating your favourite flag at night. Not only is solar lighting good for the environment, they also save money on bills while being efficient and durable, especially if the right solar light batteries are chosen.
Choosing the right battery for the right solar light can be tricky for first timers though, so let’s check out some of the best options currently available.
Here are our top 3 picks based on available models.
Largest number of batteries per box (20) while still performing at high efficiency.
Highly affordable and high performing with a decent number of batteries per box (12). They also include a 1-year warranty which is rare for low-budget batteries.
How Do Solar Light Batteries Work?
When researching renewable products, it’s easy to think that your search should stop once you’ve found the solar panel, solar light, or solar pool cleaner (for example) that you want. And whilst, generally speaking, you’d be right, there are those products for which it’s also important to know a little more – such as with solar lights.
Having purchased your solar lights, you’ll experience fantastic performance for many months, even years, before that performance starts to dip. But when it does, you don’t want to be left thinking that the product itself has reached the end of its lifespan. Indeed, the solar panels in the products should last you decades. With solar lights, the likelihood is more simply that the batteries inside the light-housing have been recharged and drained one too many times, and now they need replacing. Replacing the batteries in your solar lights is a super affordable and speedy way to bring their performance back to box-fresh standards, but first you’ll want to know just exactly how solar light batteries work.
When the solar panel built into the top of the solar light is exposed to sunlight, a chemical and physical change occurs (known as the ‘photovoltaic effect’) in the thin silicon material of the panel. This change generates volts of electricity, but before they can be used they need to be stored somewhere. That’s where solar-compatible rechargeable batteries come in. These volts of generated electricity are fed via a series of contacts into the rechargeable batteries, which absorb and store the electrical charge for future use. Once the batteries are fully charged, any surplus electricity generated by the panels will simply help to keep the batteries topped up (this is called ‘trickle charging’).
Then, come nightfall and the automatic operation of the solar lights, the batteries release their stored electricity to power the LED bulbs inside the casing. Pretty simple, isn’t it? However, there are a few factors which set solar batteries apart from conventional ones.
Since solar light batteries must operate outdoors, in a range of sometimes extreme weather conditions, they have been designed in highly durable stainless steel casing. This casing not only prevents potential leakage (important in a battery which will be contained inside the one battery-casing for maybe years), but also ensures that the battery will remain functional at temperatures as low as -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), and as high as +60 Celsius (+140 Fahrenheit).
Some of the best solar light batteries on this list retain up to 75% charge even after three years of use (which, let us tell you, is pretty phenomenal for rechargeable batteries, especially given the price point). It’s also worth noting that part of the importance of solar light battery longevity is in the reduction of waste, thanks to long-life rechargeable batteries lasting infinitely longer than their one-time use, disposable cousins.
Pros and Cons of Solar Light Rechargeable Batteries
As with just about anything you’re looking to buy, it can help with the decision making process immensely to know the advantages and disadvantages to the technology and product. As such, let’s take a look at the key pros and cons of solar light rechargeable batteries.
- Safe and dependable. Unlike many conventional AA batteries and rechargeable batteries, those designed specifically for solar garden lights to act as replacement batteries for the initial batch are both safe and dependable. They will last you a long time (sometimes 3 years or more), and are designed not to leak – protecting your garden lights from unnecessary damage.
- Affordable. On average you’ll pay around $1 per battery for solar lights, which when you consider that $1 may last you three years in a single garden light, makes it a vastly more affordable option than buying conventional AA batteries.
- Green energy. Let’s not forget that perhaps the most important benefit of rechargeable solar batteries is the fact that using them drastically reduces waste, which in turn helps our planet and goes a small way to reducing your carbon footprint.
- Lifespan. With recharge counts ranging from 500 times to over 1000 times, these rechargeable replacement batteries for your solar garden lights will last you at least a year and a half, if not three years or more. Now that’s an impressive lifespan.
- Variable quality. There are few cons when it comes to solar light batteries, but one is most certainly the variable nature of their quality (especially when compared to disposable AA batteries). Whilst we’d still always recommend you buy solar rechargeable over conventional, it’s worth paying a little more for the premium brands, than cheap out and be left with batteries which might offer poor performance, or may be more prone to leakage.
- May not work with all solar lights. Bear in mind that it’s important to check what type of battery your solar light requires before purchasing, as unfortunately rechargeable solar batteries are not universal, and may not work with all garden lights.
- Sunlight dependent. This goes for any solar product, and whilst not the fault of the batteries, it’s worth mentioning. If your solar panel-powered garden lights don’t receive adequate sunlight on a daily basis, your batteries won’t charge enough (or at all) to power the garden lights overnight.
Best Batteries for Solar Lights Reviewed
Panasonic BK-3MCCA8BA NiMH AA batteries
- Brand: Panasonic
These all purpose precharged batteries promise extremely high performances with over 2100 charging cycles before expiring.
A defining feature of these batteries is that they can be used in a number of different appliances including: Remote controls, flashlights and even digital cameras. This versatility also proves to be a con though. These batteries have been shown to work exceptionally well with certain solar lights (for example the Annin Flagmaker 2804 Solar LED Pole Light) while being underwhelming or incompatible with other solar light models.
- One of the highest storage charges on the market
- Precharged with solar energy before delivery (100% eco-friendly)
- Operate at low temperatures
- Versatility with other household appliances
- Work with fewer solar light models than average
Energizer Alkaline AA Batteries
Probably the best known brand of batteries in the world, they had to deserve a mention. While not rechargeable, these batteries have a very high storage capacity.
Featuring effective leak-resistant technology, these are great batteries to buy in bulk (up to 48 batteries per package) that are always handy if no other batteries are readily available.
- Extremely effective leak-resistant technology that will protect your solar lights from damage
- Very good price from a well-known brand
- Work very well with solar lights especially, meaning your lights will be extra bright
- Not only are they not rechargeable but they may not be the best long-term solution for solar lights
Relightable NiCaD AA Batteries
- Brand: Relightable
As suggested in the name, this battery’s main feature is its high cycle charge (up to 1000 recharges). The number of batteries per box is also higher than usual at 20 batteries per package so longevity is definitely a positive feature.
With every positive there is usually a negative though as these batteries offer quite a low capacity at just 600 mAH and also offer no warranty whatsoever.
- Up to 1000 recharging cycles cycles
- High number of batteries per box
- Good value for money
- Low battery capacity compared to other products
- No warranty offered
Tenergy AA NiCad Batteries
- Brand: Tenergy
Some of the most reliable, durable and eco-friendly batteries on the market, available at very reasonable prices. What also sets these batteries apart from others on this list is their exclusive focus on solar lights. Packing 1.2 Volts per battery, they are perfect for long-term powering of solar lights.
A rechargeable model, Tenergy batteries can support up to 1000 charging cycles. The Tenergy brand also gets extra points for offering realistic stats about their charging and shelf life (around 5 years).
- Very high durability and power output (1.2 voltage) meaning bright lights for an extended period of time
- Up to 1000 charging cycles
- High compatibility with various solar light models
- Very good value for price considering their performance
- Not particularly high-capacity
- Considered a somewhat cheap alternative to batteries with higher performance rates
AmazonBasics NiMH AA Batteries
- Brand: Amazon
The main feature of these precharged batteries is their ludicrously high capacity at 2000 mAH. This means they pack a punch and will have your lights shining for hours on end.
Coming from such a massively popular brand means that at the end of their use they can be easily recycled in one of Amazons countless disposal centers. Their high capacity rating unfortunately means this model is more prone to leakage than other batteries. Also they offer only 8 batteries per package which is one of the lowest on our list.
- Extremely high capacity, delivering exceptional brightness
- High durability at 1000 charging cycles and a decent shelf life when in storage of around 2 years
- Eco-friendly points due to Amazon’s many recycling centers
- Popular brand means they are easily available
- More prone to leakage than other models
- Low number of batteries per box
EBL AA NiCaD Rechargeable Batteries
- Brand: EBL
The defining feature of our list topper is the way these batteries tick all the boxes when it comes to: Battery life, number of units per box (20), versatility (they come with a battery carrying case to use on the go) and capacity (a very respectable 1100 mAH). These are definitely some of the best rechargeable batteries on the market.
All this comes at an exceptionally fair price and this is why these batteries win our competition!
- Extremely versatile while still holding a high capacity at 1100 mAH
- 20 batteries per box
- EBL batteries come with a 1-year warranty and a very useful battery carrying case
- Very high value for money when considering all factors
- Not to be picky but a higher warranty will always be appreciated
Energizer AAA Rechargeable NiMH batteries
Another Energizer brand battery as the only AAA batteries on our list (meaning bigger size). We had to mention these, not only for the brand’s popularity but because they do have some very specific advantages. Though their capacity rating of 800 mAH may seem low, it also means less charging time. This means longer sunlight exposure time for your lights.
Make sure beforehand that these batteries (being of a different size) are compatible with your solar lights, which can be easily done by checking your solar light’s battery compartment.
- Popular and accessible brand
- Very durable
- Made with recycled batteries
- May have more faulty charges than average
- Only 8 batteries per box
Buying Guide for Solar Light Batteries
Before buying any product some basic research is always a good idea. This can also be applied to everything, including batteries for your solar lights.
Type of Battery
First off, it’s important to know that there are different types of battery each with their positives and negatives, mainly relating to their composition, benefits, durability and manufacturing popularity (for example older versus newer battery types).
NiMH batteries: The letters stand for Nickel Metal Hybrids. These are without a doubt the most popular typology of battery in the modern world, steadily replacing the more old-fashioned alkaline batteries. By this metric, batteries of this type are usually the best solution for solar lights. While they are almost exactly the same in size to alkaline batteries they usually hold a much higher electric charge and are also easier to dispose of in an eco-friendly manner. Their main drawback is a shorter lifespan than their counterpart. This can actually be a negative from an environmental perspective as more of them are used and produced en masse.
NiCad batteries: Nickel-Cadmium batteries were the mainstay batteries during the 1990s becoming widely used in portable devices. As one can imagine that is not the main feature one looks for in fixed solar lights. They do have a major benefit in that they do not suffer from voltage drop when their power is drained. This positive is hampered by an equally major negative, as NiCaD batteries suffer a crucial drawback when it comes to memory charge. Most NiCaD batteries have to be completely drained of power before they can be recharged again. With that said our list topper is of the NiCaD typology. This is also because this type of battery has a longer lifespan than their NiMH rivals.
Li-ion batteries: Or Lithium ion batteries are mostly used to charge laptops and smartphones. The main positive is that their charging times are much shorter than other Nickel-based batteries. Their voltage capacity is also independent of their charge, meaning a battery at 10% will still light up as if it were completely charged. Though there are no batteries of this type in our list, models of this type make some of the best rechargeable batteries. Their biggest drawback is that they are much more expensive than most batteries.
The length of time a battery can generate electricity (in our case through solar power) is measured by mAH or Milliamp Hours. As we have seen with different listed batteries this value is usually between 600 and 2000 (but can be higher in other models). Obviously this figure is vital in calculating how long your lights will last before depletion and ultimately substitution. Apart from battery type, battery capacity is arguably the defining and most important feature in solar light batteries.
Number of Batteries
This info is almost as important when taking into account three different variables:
- The number of solar lights you have
- The shelf life of the batteries
- The rate of substitution of a depleted battery (even more so if it is non-rechargeable)
As we have seen battery boxes come in units of 8 up to 24 in our list, but bulk deals can reach even higher numbers.
Cycle Charges and Warranty
The number of cycle charges is a defining and crucial aspect for rechargeable solar light batteries. That number as we’ve seen, can change from 500 to even 2000 or more cycle charges. But what use is a rechargeable battery if for some reason it malfunctions? Or worse if it leaks and thus damages the solar light itself?
For this reason warranties are very important with most popular models offering at the very least 1-year warranties while some brands offer up to 3 years.
Outdoor solar lights are an awesome way to spruce up your home and garden in a sustainable manner. Solar energy is also a way to find the perfect balance between environmental awareness, energy conservation and lets’s be realistic, money saving. Whether you’re thinking about buying new solar lights or already have them and need new batteries, a list like ours can help a lot, as different brands have different capacities, compatibility issues and prices.
This list in particular focused on the best battery considering value for money versus effectiveness and durability. This is why we chose the EBL brand. Even though they are NiCaD based and so represent the older type of battery, they are still extremely efficient and just as easy to dispose of as most NiMH models.
Check out our updated Pinterest board with the best solar light batteries:
Solar light batteries and especially solar rechargeable batteries are an extremely cost-effective and environmental friendly way to power light systems using only the energy of the sun.
No, it is very important to check compatible models whether online or by checking your solar light’s manual or battery compartment beforehand.
To sum it up briefly, NiMH batteries are the newest generation of batteries, efficient and by and large affordable. NiCaD batteries are considered the standard and have longer lifespans but a more old-fashioned charging capacity. And finally Lithium ion batteries are considered the best rechargeable batteries for solar light, but are much more expensive and used mainly in other appliances.
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