Do You Need Special Batteries for Solar Lights?

If you’ve started to notice your solar lights are not lasting as long as they used to, or they aren’t as bright, it’s probably time to replace the batteries.

If you’re wondering whether you need special batteries for solar lights, we’re here to help.

You don’t need special batteries that are specifically designed for solar lights, but you do need to make sure they are rechargeable and you choose the correct type of battery. Standard non-rechargeable batteries can be used for short periods but extended use will cause corrosion.

In the rest of this guide, we’ll take a look at how to choose the correct type of batter, the difference between NiCd and NiMH batteries and why you shouldn’t use non-rechargeable batteries in solar lights.

Choosing the Correct Type of Battery

Solar lights are usually powered by AA or AAA batteries but may occasionally be a different type. Make sure to avoid alkaline batteries as they are non-rechargeable.


The capacity of a battery is mesaured in in milliampere/hour (mAh). The capacity of AA and AAA batteries ranges from around 600-3000 mAh.

For solar lights, aim for a similar capacity to the battery you are replacing. A higher capacity might seem tempting but the solar panel won’t provide a strong enough current to charge a high capacity battery.

A high capacity battery will work and won’t cause any damage so you can certianly use one if that’s all you have around, but you’re better off matching the capacity of the old battery if possible.

NiMH Batteries Vs. NiCd Batteries

The difference between NiMH and NiCd batteries is that NiMH uses nickel-metal hydride wheras NiCd uses nickel-cadmium. Both types of battery are interchangeable and can be used in solar lights.

Generally, NiMH batteries are going to be a better choice. They are environmentally-friendly (NiCd batteries are not) and don’t suffer from memory effect (NiCd batteries do). Memory effect causes a battery to lose it’s maximum capacity when repeatedly recharged after being only partially discharged.

One advantage of NiCd Batteries is that they operate well at very low temperatures. So if you live in a really cold climate, you might want to go with NiCd Batteries.

Can I Use Non-Rechargeable Batteries for Solar Lights?

Yes but only for short periods of time (a few days max). Extended use of alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable) in solar lights will cause corrosion and can eventually cause permanent damage to the lights.

Final Thoughts

To wrap it up, you don’t need any special kind of battery specifically designed for solar lights but you do need to make sure they are the correct size and are rechargeable (NiMH or NiCd). NiMh batteries are the better choice for most people but NiCd batteries are better for very cold weather. Ideally, you should aim for a capacity similar to that of the batteries you are replacing.

It is possible to use non-rechargeable (alkaline) batteries in solar lights but this should only be a very temporary solution (a few days max).