Do Solar Lights Need Batteries?

The more sunlight your solar panels are exposed to, the more efficiently they perform. This technology harnesses the power of the sun to produce electricity at a safer and more affordable rate. 

However, solar panels have been designed to respond to solar energy, which goes off when night falls. Homeowners have therefore invested in batteries to store excess power and use in the early hours of the morning and late in the evening.

This trend has made those new to solar technology wonder if solar lights need batteries. The answer is yes and no, but mostly yes. Your solar panels will work without batteries but investing in them will help you maximize solar power. Keep reading to find out why solar lights need batteries.

Do Garden Solar Lights Need Batteries?

There is no doubt that solar lights will work better with batteries. So, yes, garden solar lights need batteries. But will they function without them? Of course.

Now, let’s explain further.

It’s no secret that solar panels harness the power of the sun to produce electricity. This means they must work with visible light to convert photons into AC or alternating current electricity. That’s what your house or property needs. 

During the day, generating power won’t be a problem. When the panels receive unrestricted sunlight, they’ll easily convert direct current or DC to AC. This is made possible through the photovoltaic effect.

Of course, it also means the sun must be constantly present if you want to enjoy solar power. Naturally, it is unavailable at night, which is where batteries come in.

The purpose of garden lights is to illuminate the landscape when night falls. If you’re choosing solar technology to do the job for you, this means you expect the system to run entirely on photons or energy from the sun.

It’s no secret that you won’t find the sun when you step out at night. As such, the solar panels will be unable to function.

Let’s delve a bit further into the technological aspect of it. Solar panels work with the sun, generating electricity from when it rises to when it sets. There’s an automatic detector that sees when the sun sets.

It stops electricity production immediately, and this is where you either lose power or tap from what has been reserved in your solar batteries.

Generally, garden solar lights need batteries to serve their purpose. You wouldn’t install the lights if you didn’t want them for when night falls.

Why Do Solar Lights Need Batteries?

You probably already know that your solar lights need batteries, but why?

One of the perks of solar lights is that you don’t have to worry about the nearest socket, so you can put them anywhere. They work with sunlight; just leave the panels where they’ll receive enough access.

Now, you obviously don’t need your garden solar lights for daytime use. Unlike the typical solar system in the home, garden solar lights only come on at night.

And the sun won’t be out, so how will the lights power themselves? This is why you need to also buy batteries. Purchasing solar panels isn’t enough; get an appropriate battery to store the excess currents.

The purpose of an inverter is to convert direct current electricity into alternating current electricity. If a residential or commercial property utilizes this technology, there’ll be power to execute tasks that require electricity during the day.

While the sun shines, the photovoltaic effect takes place. This means the solar cells capture photons and convert them into alternating currents. Mind you; this can only happen when there’s access to sunlight.

It won’t work at night when the moon comes out. The moon is also an energy source but isn’t strong enough to excite the photovoltaic cells into action. In fact, when they detect that the sun goes down, they also stop working.

If you have batteries, there is an automatic switch; a reversal of some sort. Instead of sending power into the battery, power is drawn and distributed for use.

Your solar lights need batteries if you want to truly harness the sun’s energy. Solar technology has passed the stage where you have to run out of electricity when night falls. Now, you can store electricity for days.

Do Regular Batteries Work in Solar Light?

The short answer is no. Regular batteries do not work in solar light.

Let’s break it down by explaining how solar batteries work. The core of solar energy is capturing photons from the sun, converting them to electricity, and powering your home or property. It also stores some of this power, in some cases, in a deep-cycle battery.

This is done through an inverter, converting direct correct to the alternating current during the daytime. With solar batteries, you enjoy double benefits.

First, you get cheaper energy during the day. And at night, there will be a reversal of energy flow that you can only do through a capable battery.

Capable batteries do not include regular batteries because they have not been designed to be drained. If they die too often, they begin to lose efficiency at an accelerated rate.

In simpler terms, regular batteries will spoil if you drain them often. And that is precisely what happens when you use solar or deep-cycle batteries.

These have been designed to experience many charge cycles. It will be deeply discharged, providing more extended and consistent energy, compared to regular ones that produce quick bursts.

For instance, let’s consider car batteries. When you turn on your vehicle’s ignition, the battery provides a robust but short flow of currents that enables the engine to turn over.

Immediately afterward, the alternator powers the vehicle. You cannot enjoy this function if you attach your solar panels to this type of battery. Aside from spoiling earlier, you cannot expect as much performance.

Regular batteries will work with solar lights but spoil well before you know it. Unfortunately, these units aren’t as powerful as the typical batteries for solar lights.

Do You Need Special Batteries for Solar Lights?

No, you don’t need special batteries for solar lights. But you cannot use the regular ones because of how they’re structured. For instance, alkaline-based batteries won’t work efficiently for solar panels.

You can use them temporarily, though.

You need Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) or Nickel Metal Hydride NiMH rechargeable batteries for solar panels.

These batteries are easy to find and are affordable, so there’s no reason to rely on regular batteries for your solar lights.

From the product names of these batteries, it’s apparent that they’re of different types. NiMH batteries are better than NiCd batteries in almost every way.

For one, they’re more environmentally sensitive – they don’t contain compounds or components that can harm the environment. So, disposing of them leaves you with no threat of harming the ecosystem.

Another reason you should opt for NiMH batteries for your solar panels is that they have better performance ratings. Their higher capacity to store solar energy makes them more advantageous to homeowners.

Finally, the memory effect may be another reason you should choose NiMH batteries. The memory effect is a phenomenon where the battery becomes less efficient each time it dies.

In the same vein, if you keep charging without allowing it to be drained completely, it will reach a point where it cannot hold a charge.

So, in a sense, maybe you need special batteries for your solar panels. After all, every property owner’s dream is maximum efficiency at a reduced cost, and the NiMH battery is how to get there.

How Long do Solar Batteries Last?

Solar batteries are a great way to store energy for later. But how long do they last?

They’re still considerable investments, even if they’re not as expensive as the other solar energy components. Typically, solar batteries are durable enough to last 5 to 15 years.

However, some factors will determine your solar panels’ actual length or shelf-life.

The first is the solar battery type. Lithium-ion batteries are the best units because they are stronger, lighter, and more durable.

The way the batteries are also used will determine how long they’ll serve you. If you choose a deep cycle battery, you can expect that it won’t spoil fast, regardless of how many times you drain the power.

It is becoming general knowledge that the temperature affects your battery. So, the place you install the solar batteries is also important – if the climate is temperate or mild, nothing is stopping you from installing the battery outdoor.

Finally, this is the most obvious one. Maintaining solar batteries will also determine how long they will last.

Do You Need Rechargeable Batteries for Solar Lights?

Absolutely. Without a doubt, you need rechargeable batteries for solar lights.

There are many types of batteries on the market. Most of them will work with your solar panels, but some are better suited.

For instance, a rechargeable battery is ideal for solar panels because of its capacity to store solar energy for later use. If it isn’t rechargeable, that just defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

How Often do you Need to Replace Solar Batteries?

If you notice your solar panels’ efficiency is dwindling, you may consider getting a new battery.

When the batteries lose their efficiency, you will notice a reduced ability to hold a charge cycle. They will also decrease in brightness and the quality of light they produce.

Depending on the brand you’re using, these will likely happen after the fifth year. If it is a reputable one that offers durability, expect five to ten years of use before you need to replace the solar batteries.

How do You Know the Solar Batteries are Dead in Solar Lights?

Checking if your solar batteries are dead is easy. Not coming on is the number one telling sign.

However, to determine if it is simply out of juice and not damaged or something of that sort, you only need to replace the solar battery with an alkaline-based one.

If the lights in your home come on afterward, your solar battery isn’t dead but needs to be replaced.

This doesn’t mean you can use the alkaline-based battery until you get a replacement. It is highly recommended that you avoid doing this so you don’t damage your solar system or even the battery.

What Type of Batteries are Used for Solar Garden Lights?

Garden solar lights require batteries to function, but there are so many market options.

So, what type of batteries are used for garden solar lights? Well, if they are lithium-ion, lead-acid and SMF, and lithium-ion phosphate, then you’re good to go.


Solar garden lights are affordable and easily accessible technology. Homeowners love them because they’re a cheap way to illuminate the garden without worrying about wires and sockets.

However, they work with batteries, and we’re certain you can now explain the reason to anyone who asks.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.