I’ll admit, there have been a few times where I have found myself ‘in a pinch’ and used something less than ideal for the situation. I really wanted/needed to get something done, so I did the best I could with what I had.
Normally, one would pat themselves on the back for their ingenuity. But we all know, this doesn’t work for every situation. And when it comes to solar lights, this type of thinking does not work.
Using normal batteries instead of the manufacturer’s recommended battery can dramatically reduce the longevity of your solar light – and quite possibly cause an accident.
And it’s all because of how the batteries are made.
Battery Composition And Solar Lights
There are all kinds of batteries with different types of composition. And it’s these different compositions that play a crucial role in where and how a battery is to be used.
One of the most common batteries on the market is the alkaline battery. This battery is fairly affordable and arguably the most easily obtained. However, there are two main reasons why you should never install alkaline batteries in your solar lights.
- Alkaline batteries are prone to leakage.
Take the average AA battery out of your kid’s toy and leave it in the hot sun for a while and you might notice some undesirable results. The battery will most likely leak a corrosive liquid and even sometimes deform. Clearly, this would be less than ideal for a solar light that requires a good deal of sunlight to recharge.
- Alkaline batteries are not considered rechargeable.
For the record, there are exceptions to almost every rule, but generally speaking, alkaline batteries are not meant for recharging. Their composition is just not conducive to this process – especially when done repeatedly.
The entire concept of a solar light is to be recharged daily by the sun. For this reason it is easy to understand why putting such a battery in your solar light could be problematic.
- Lithium batteries are not all created equal.
One very common misconception about lithium batteries is that they are all the same. The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In fact, at the time of this article being written, there were over 20 different types of lithium batteries listed on Wikipedia – each with their own unique recipe.
This is important to remember! Just because your solar light came with a lithium battery, doesn’t mean you can buy any lithium battery from the store, install it and expect proper results. Using the wrong kind of lithium battery can, in fact, cause you just as much grief as installing an alkaline battery.
- Some lithium batteries do not recharge well.
Remember, batteries are designed with specific purposes in mind.
For your solar light, lithium ion batteries are generally the battery of choice as they are constructed in such a way as to charge and discharge repeatedly without a significant decline in capacity.
This is different than your typical AA Lithium battery that you might see hanging in the store. AA Lithium batteries are built to hold a charge longer – but not necessarily to be recharged on a regular basis.
Solar Lights And Battery Cycles
Another aspect of solar lights and their batteries, is in their size – in other words, the amount of energy that can be charged and discharged.
I have seen this first hand in our home.
While our house is not currently utilizing Lithium for our whole house battery storage, I do know what can happen if storage capacity is not sized correctly.
Every rechargeable battery has a limit of how many times it can be recharged. When battery capacity is too small, then the charge and discharge cycle happens too frequently, and consequently this reduces the life of the battery.
I’ll admit, I fully get the concept of convenience and wanting to get something done. Time always seems to be in short supply, so I understand why a person would want to swap out a weak battery in their solar light for something that is easily obtained.
However, it must be understood that the engineers behind your solar lights, chose a very specific battery – both in composition and in capacity. Attempting to use anything other than this thoughtfully chosen power supply, is most likely going to decrease the longevity of your investment.
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If you have enjoyed this article, then please consider reading, “Three Different Types Of Solar Flood Lights” for a helpful guide on solar lights and what to look for when purchasing some for your home.