Solar power is a renewable source of energy and has been used by individuals all over the world to meet their energy needs. Solar power is getting much popularity in recent times due to the growing concerns all over the world for saving renewable sources of energy.
Solar lights use solar power for providing outdoor lighting in the evening and night. Solar lights are used for lighting up the streets as well as the gardens and porches.
Do solar lights need batteries?
Solar lights are available in different sizes and shapes to cater to the needs of the users. One of the biggest advantages of using solar lights is that they do not have to be plugged into the main electricity board.
It is helpful as one can place them anywhere outside without having to think about where the socket is. However, there is a question that is raised by some solar power users as to whether solar lights need batteries for their operations.
Yes, the solar lights require batteries to run. The solar lights draw the energy from the sun for recharging the rechargeable batteries that are present within the unit of the solar light.
Most of the time, these rechargeable batteries come with solar light units, and one does not have to buy them separately.
What types of batteries are in solar lights?
So what is the role of the battery in the solar light unit? Its main role is to store the energy converted by the solar panel. This power can then be used for illuminating the light. Solar lights make use of different kinds of rechargeable batteries.
The three most common types of batteries used by solar lights are:
- Lead-acid battery and SMF
- Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4)
- Lithium-ion battery (Li-Ion)
Lead-acid and sealed maintenance free SMF battery
People generally opt for these batteries due to the affordable price. It is very pocket-friendly when compared with the batteries that use new technology. These batteries can be used for different applications.
They are available in different sizes too. Lead-acid batteries do not get overcharged, and they have low self-discharge. These batteries are more dependable as they have proved their worth over the years.
However, lead-acid batteries also have some disadvantages. These batteries have to be taken care of regularly. The risk of exploding is high. Since the batteries contain lead, it becomes difficult to handle in adverse weather conditions.
One of the biggest disadvantages of using lead-acid batteries in solar lights is that you need a bigger solar panel for charging as the size of the battery is more. It also needs a lot of space since the size of the battery is big.
The life of a lead-acid battery is around three to four years. Hence one needs to purchase batteries again.
Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) Battery
Lithium-Ion Battery is a compact battery, and the price is more than the lead-acid batteries. The Lithium-Ion Battery is commonly used in laptops, cameras, and mobile phones. 3.7 V of power is needed for charging these batteries.
It means that if you have a smaller solar panel, you will be able to charge the batteries properly. Even during cloudy days, the solar panels will be able to generate 3.7 V and this will enable the batteries to get charged.
The Lithium-Ion Batteries do not require maintenance and the battery lasts easily for five to six years. The only disadvantage of these batteries is that their efficiency is hampered during very high or low temperatures.
Lithium-Ion Phosphate Battery (LiFePO4)
This is more portable and compact than Lithium-Ion Batteries. They have a high price than Lithium-Ion Batteries. These batteries are used in a majority of recent electronic equipment.
This is the most advanced battery available for people. It needs 3.2 V power for charging. Therefore, small sizes solar panels can be used for this purpose.
During cloudy days, solar panels can generate 3.2 V of power for charging the batteries. No maintenance or ventilation is required for the batteries. The Lithium-Ion Phosphate battery lasts for 9 to 12 years.
The biggest advantage of using these batteries is that they can withstand extreme weather conditions. It is also safe and more reliable than lead-acid or Lithium-Ion batteries.
Are there solar lights without batteries?
Yes, solar lights need batteries to work. Solar lights are not used during the day when the sun is shining brightly. It is during this time that the photons are hitting the cells in the solar panels and solar power is been generated.
However, the scenario is different during the night. There is no sun and hence no power is generated. Since one wants to save energy for the nighttimes, one needs a way to store the energy temporarily. It is due to this reason that rechargeable batteries are needed in solar lights.
During the night, the light sensors ask the solar light to turn on. The lithium ions move back from the graphite layer. The electrical energy then gets converted to light energy. And the solar lights start to give off light for the outdoor areas.
How to select the best brand batteries for solar light?
The solar batteries stores electricity for use later and for running appliances when there is a power cut. Solar batteries help in saving money on electricity and also make use of the solar energy produced by the solar panels.
These batteries are known as deep cycle batteries as they can charge and discharge electricity similar to that of a car battery.
So how does one purchase the best brand batteries for the solar lights? With so many brands available in the market, it is indeed a tiring job to find the best one for your needs. Different brands offer different qualities in the lights.
It is indeed a tough decision to make for an individual. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind when selecting the best brand batteries for solar light.
- If an individual is looking for ways of powering more areas in the home simultaneously, then one must select a solar battery that has a high power rating.
- For individuals who will be using energy-intensive appliances like a pump, they must choose a solar battery that comes with a high instantaneous power rating.
- One requires a battery with a higher usable capacity if they want to use the solar battery for a long time in their home.
- Choose LFP solar batteries if you are looking for a solar battery with the most safety rating. All the other batteries are safe but these batteries are the safest.
- Are you looking for a battery with a long lifetime? Then the answer is to buy Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries.
- For those individuals who do not have much space in their homes, they can opt for the Lithium-Iron Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) solar batteries.
- Choose batteries with high roundtrip efficiency, if you want to derive the maximum of the energy you put in the solar battery.
The best battery will depend on numerous factors like the size of the individual’s home, features of the solar installation, and what the person’s needs are from the energy storing system.
An individual who has a big house requires a high-capacity battery that can generate electricity for many hours continuously.
A small battery will suffice for those individuals who are looking for affordable batteries and also want to optimize the solar energy system.
To conclude, solar lights do need batteries for functioning. They make use of solar energy for creating electricity. However, this has to be stored in a place for the lights to work properly when needed.
Most of the solar lights come with rechargeable batteries and hence an individual does not have to worry about the batteries.
After some years of usage, when the batteries need to be replaced, one must look for a similar battery. We have already mentioned tips to finding the right solar battery and that will help look for the right solar battery.
Eng. Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar.
After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as a Solar Electrical Engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies.
He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research.
He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website.
Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.