While lithium-ion batteries have long been touted as the future of the solar battery world, some close rivals are giving them a run for their money. This blog post gives you a closer look at the best rechargeable batteries currently available in the market for solar light applications.
Our Top Picks
- AmazonBasics AA Rechargeable Batteries
- Energizer AA Rechargeable Batteries
- BONAI AA Rechargeable Batteries
- Geilienergy 600 mAh Rechargeable Batteries
- Panasonic Eneloop BK-3MCCA8BA Batteries
- EBL AA Rechargeable Batteries
- RayHom AA Rechargeable Batteries
- Tenergy Solla Rechargeable Batteries
- Duracell AA Rechargeable Batteries
- LP AA Rechargeable Batteries
We’ve covered several battery types, including the standard Ni-Cd and NiMH batteries, from brands like Energizer, Amazon, and Panasonic. The batteries have been picked based on their charge capacities, shelf life, recharge cycle ratings, self-discharge rates, and other essential features.
The differences between these features may appear marginal initially, but they amplify in the long run and result in years of lifespan difference. Read on to find how the top rechargeable batteries fare against each other and which battery pack best meets your solar energy needs.
Top 10 Rechargeable Batteries for Solar Lights
Finding the best rechargeable batteries for solar lights can be a real struggle. At Spheral Solar, we realize this struggle and present the Top 10 rechargeable batteries intended for solar-power light solutions.
AmazonBasics AA Rechargeable Batteries
The AmazonBasics are Ni-MH rechargeable batteries that can power solar lights, flashlights, digital cameras, and other compatible electronic gadgets for days on a single charge. They’re highly versatile and can be ordered in several pack options, depending on your needs and budget.
The batteries come with a rated capacity of 2000 mAh (milliamp hours), which refers to the amount of current the batteries can deliver in one hour. As tested by the Wirecutter team, the actual capacity was 1,862 mAh, which is close to the rated capacity of the batteries. The test also showed that the batteries (pack of eight) could power a flameless candle for five days and nights.
You can recharge the AmazonBasics AA batteries 1000 times during their lifespan. Since these batteries are recyclable, you can take them to a recycling center after they become unusable. Although the batteries have a slow self-discharge rate, their capacity can deplete significantly before reaching the specified 1,000 recharges.
- Comes in packs of 4, 8, 12, 16, and 24 batteries
- The batteries come pre charged so that you can use them straight out of the box
- Carry one year warranty
- The charge capacity tends to deplete quickly
Verdict about AmazonBasics
The AmazonBasics AA rechargeable batteries have a 5 years battery shelf life and an extensive recharge cycle. With over 172,000 ratings for their superior performance, they are a good pick for your solar lights.Check the price on Amazon
Energizer AA Rechargeable Batteries
The Energizer AA rechargeable batteries come in packs of 4, 8, and 16 batteries and offer over 1000 charge cycles and a shelf life of around 5 years. These are NiMH AA batteries for solar light applications that can retain 100 percent charge for up to 12 months.
Like the AmazonBasics, each of the Energizer recharge batteries has a maximum capacity of 2000 mAh. Depending on the number of solar lights and their output voltage, these batteries will typically keep your lights lit for 10 to 12 hours on a single charge.
The Energizer AA batteries also have a reputation for high performance in cold temperatures. At 21 ⁰C, they can last up to 10 hours, offering an output current of 230 mA.
- Highly versatile batteries that you can use in a variety of appliances
- 5-year battery life span and charge retention rate of up to 1 year
- Pre charged
- Fully recyclable
- Some users have reported battery leakage
Can I Use Energizer Rechargeable Batteries for Solar Lights?
You can definitely use Energizer AA batteries to power your solar lights. They check all the boxes for a good rechargeable battery for solar lights. With over 1,000 times charge cycle, 2000 mAh capacity, and 5-year shelf life, these batteries are worth buying.Check the price on Amazon
BONAI AA Rechargeable Batteries
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option with an extensive lifespan, the BONAI 1.2v AA batteries for solar lights can be a good pick. Each BONAI battery unit offers 2800 mAh of energy and can be charged 1200 times without worrying about reserve batteries.
They come in packs of 16 batteries and retain a charge for a year, even if left unused. The product maintains 80 percent of its charge capacity even after three years of non-use. However, it is advisable to charge them fully every 3 months to ensure optimal performance.
A good feature of the BONAI AA batteries is that you can use them for gadgets other than solar lights. Additionally, these batteries are environmentally friendly as they don’t contain Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, or other materials harmful to the environment. The product comes with a 30-days money-back warranty and a one-year limited warranty.
- Safe, reliable, and recyclable
- Works well in cold and hot climates alike
- Extended battery lifespan
- Covered by diverse warranty options
- May not charge efficiently with some chargers
The BONAI solar light battery has the highest charge capacity among the batteries we reviewed. With a UL certification, they are one of the best batteries for solar lights.Check the price on Amazon
Geilienergy 600 mAh Rechargeable Batteries
The 1.2v Geilienergy battery pack offers fast-charging NiCd batteries with excellent charge efficiency and lifespan. A major drawback of these rechargeable solar batteries is that you can only charge them using sunlight. The feature puts you at a disadvantage when the sunlight is scarce. It also limits your options when it comes to placing the solar panel. The improper position will result in reduced charge capacity and ultimately lower the run time at night.
The Geilienergy batteries for solar lights can be recharged up to 1000 times and provide a current of around 600 mAh. Given a large number of recharge cycles, you can use solar batteries without wasting money on new batteries.
- Fast recharging in maximum solar exposure
- Affordable price
- Bad light and weather condition can adversely affect the charging efficiency
- The position of the solar panel impacts the performance of the batteries
- low capacity (600 mAh)
Although these batteries have a long lifespan and shelf life, their actual performance largely depends on the amount of exposure to solar energy. These factors need to be considered before purchasing the Geilienergy rechargeable batteries for solar lights.Check the price on Amazon
Panasonic Eneloop BK-3MCCA8BA Batteries
The Eneloop AA rechargeable batteries by Panasonic have the highest number of recharge cycles among all the solar light batteries we reviewed. You can recharge these 1.2v NiMH AA batteries up to 2100 times, which means you won’t need any replacements for nearly a decade.
Additionally, the BK 3MCCA8BA can maintain around 70 percent of its charge capacity for up to ten years. Unfortunately, we can’t validate this claim at this stage because these batteries were first made available in 2014. In the capacity testing, the Wirecutter team measured a true charge capacity of 1850 mAh, which is pretty close to the rated capacity of 2000 mAh for Eneloop AA batteries. Besides, they can operate well in temperatures as low as -15 ⁰C.
If you don’t already have a AA or AAA battery charger, we recommend that you get the Panasonic Power Pack. The Power Pack includes Eneloop batteries (8 AA batteries and 4 AAA batteries) and a high-quality battery charger.
- Longer lifespan compared to other brands
- No memory effect
- Comes pre charged using solar power
- Highly versatile
The 8-pack Panasonic Eneloop batteries for solar lights may seem expensive, but their high charging cycles and longevity make them cheaper than most alkaline batteries in the long run. Together with AmazonBasics and Energizer, they are among the best rechargeable batteries for solar lights solutions.Check the price on Amazon
EBL AA Rechargeable Batteries
EBL AA offers Ni-CD rechargeable batteries for solar lights with decent charge capacity and long recharging cycles. The batteries can be charged 1200 times and has a capacity of 1100 mAh. These batteries have a low discharge rate and can maintain up to 75 percent power even after three years.
The EBL AA solar light batteries are packed in a super-lattice alloy container, making them durable and efficient in temperatures as high as 60 ⁰C and as low as -20 ⁰C. You also don’t have to worry about recharging the batteries with a charger because they can charge themselves using solar power.
- Highly versatile and durable
- Comes stored in a container
- Can be charged while being used in solar lights
- You need to charge them fully before use
The EBL AA rechargeable batteries for solar lights work well in high and low temperatures alike. Since you can recharge them with both conventional and solar energy, they won’t let you down as long as they don’t reach their maximum recharge cycles.Check the price on Amazon
RayHom AA Rechargeable Batteries
The 1.2v RayHom AA batteries are highly versatile Ni-MH batteries with low self-discharge and high charging capacity. With a 1200 times recharging cycle and high capacity of 2,800 mAh, these batteries claim to power your solar lights from dusk to dawn for over 5 years. The latter claim, however, should be taken with a grain of salt because tests have shown that they offer just over 2,450 mAh of charge.
You can order them in packs of 8 and use them in solar lights, flashlights, remote controls, shavers, and other electronics. The RayHom rechargeable AA solar light batteries can retain 80 percent of their capacity even after 3 years. They are covered by a 30-days money-back warranty as well as 12-months limited warranty.
- Fast charging
- High capacity
- Extremely lightweight
- The LCD screen displays the battery charging status
- Offers 500 mAh less charge than the claimed capacity
Although the RayHom rechargeable AA batteries for solar lights offer less energy than claimed, we still recommend this product. With a high-quality LCD screen that displays the battery status and nearly 2500 mAh capacity, these batteries still offer the best bang for your bucks.Check the price on Amazon
Tenergy Solla Rechargeable Batteries
These AA rechargeable batteries by Tenergy Corporation are designed especially for solar lighting purposes. The 12 pack NiMH batteries come with a rated charge capacity of 1000 mAh. These batteries can be used to illuminate solar lights for 5 years on average. Similar to the EBL rechargeable batteries, Tenergy solar light batteries can perform well in extreme weather conditions.
The Tenergy’s Solla batteries are protected from leakages due to over-charging. They do not contain any toxic heavy metals like those typically found in the NiCd rechargeable batteries. The batteries are also covered by a 12-month warranty.
- Anti-leak in nature
- 12 pack battery
- A shelf-life claim of up to 5 years
- Low capacity (1000 mAh) compared to other brands
- Quality control issues
The Tenergy’s Solla rechargeable AA batteries for solar lights contain some excellent features, but the charge capacity could’ve been higher for solar-powered applications.Check the price on Amazon
Duracell AA Rechargeable Batteries
The Duracell AA rechargeable batteries for solar lights are long-lasting that can hold a charge for up to 10 years in storage. The product is said to offer 2500 mAh of charge, but most users measured a charging capacity of about 2400 mAh, which isn’t bad either. Due to the high charge capacity, they will efficiently power outdoor solar lights and numerous LED lights.
Like most NiMH AA batteries, the Duracell performs well in cold temperatures. While these are high-quality batteries for outdoor solar lights, they have got a major disadvantage. They’re merely rated for 400 charge cycles which can be a significant issue if you use them daily.
- Higher capacity and shelf life than competitors
- They perform well in cold temperatures
- Costly option
- Lower recharge cycles
These batteries have an excellent lifespan high capacity for outdoor solar lights. But the lower number of recharge cycles can be a deal-breaker for some users.Check the price on Amazon
LP AA Rechargeable Batteries
The LP AA batteries come pre charged and can be used straight out of the package. They have a very low self-discharge rate and can retain up to 75 percent of charge capacity over 3 years. Although the rechargeable solar light batteries are rated for 2300 mAh, the actual capacity, as tested by various users, comes out to be around 1700 mAh.
The batteries come with a good battery case which provides extra safety for the rechargeable solar batteries. They also have built-in protection for overcharge, discharge, and many other fail-safe features. The LP AA batteries can be recharged up to 500 times before you can fully write them off.
- Slow self-discharge rate
- Pre charged
- Built-in protection for discharge and overcharge
- Huge difference in rated and tested charge capacities
- Discharges quickly in cold temperatures
- 500 charge cycles
Despite the excellent protection features, the lag in capacity and lower number of charge cycles can be real issues for users who will use the batteries more frequently.Check the price on Amazon
How do Rechargeable Batteries for Solar Lights Work?
All batteries, rechargeable and non-rechargeable alike, are made up of three major parts. These include:
- A negatively charged Anode
- A positive Cathode
- The Electrolyte
The chemical reactions that occur between the three parts of the battery are responsible for producing electricity. Ions in the electrolyte combine with atoms in the anode, resulting in a buildup of electrons. The excess of electrons causes the anode to be negative. An opposite reaction occurs in the cathode, making it positive due to electron deficiency.
With an excess of electrons in the anode and a deficiency in the cathode, the electrons naturally want to leave the anode and move towards the cathode to gain stability. The electrolyte, however, acts as a barrier and prevents electrons from traveling directly towards the cathode within the battery.
Only when the circuit is closed, i.e., a wire connects the battery’s positive and negative terminals, can electrons travel within the battery. The loss of electrons at the anode is called Oxidation, while the gain of electrons at the cathode is called Reduction. The two reactions combined constitute a Redox reaction which causes electricity.
Once a charged battery is connected to solar lights, electrons start flowing from the anode towards the cathode and illuminate the solar light due to the redox reaction. As the battery becomes fully oxidized, no current flows in the circuit, and the battery is considered ‘dead.’
This is pretty much the end for primary batteries. However, a charger can reverse the flow of electrons in secondary (rechargeable) batteries and restore the initial excess of negative charge in the anode.
Types of Rechargeable Batteries for Solar Lights
The different types of batteries that have emerged throughout history differ in the types of materials and solutions used as the anode, cathode, and electrolyte. Based on the chemical composition and cell type, we present some common types of rechargeable batteries currently sold in the market.
Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd or NiCad) cells are made up of metallic cadmium, which is a toxic metal and hard to dispose of. They are lightweight, making them ideal for portable devices. But since portability is not an issue when it comes to outdoor solar lights, this isn’t something a solar light user may be interested in.
A major advantage of the NiCd batteries is their ability to supply a constant output voltage until they completely run out of power. This feature puts NiCd batteries at an advantage against alkaline batteries, which notice significant voltage drop as they are drained of power. These batteries can last up to 1000 charge cycles before requiring any replacements.
Nickel Metal Hydride
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) is a type of rechargeable solar battery that doesn’t contain any toxic metals, making it easier to dispose of. These batteries offer a larger charge capacity and less susceptible to memory. The AA and AAA NiMH batteries are highly versatile and can be used in solar garden lights, toys, remote controls, and other devices.
Although NiMH batteries have significant improvements over the standard NiCd and alkaline batteries, they also have a fair share of negative attributes. The batteries will self-discharge rapidly if used in low-energy devices. They also underperform in extreme temperatures.
Lithium-ion batteries emerged in the 90s and are currently the fastest-growing type of batteries. The anode (negative electrode) and cathode (positive electrode) materials of the battery serve as hosts for the lithium ions, which is why they’re called lithium-ion batteries.
These batteries typically have twice the energy density and require half the time to recharge than NiCd batteries. They’re high-voltage operation batteries commonly used in laptops, smartphones, digital cameras, and outdoor solar lights. The batteries require less maintenance and have a meager self-discharge rate at room temperatures. However, the battery degrades rapidly at high temperatures. They’re also fragile and require a protection circuit. Additionally, the Li-ion are costly and have a short lifespan of about 3 years or less.
Lithium Iron Phosphate
The lithium iron phosphate or LPF battery is an improved version of the Li-ion battery that uses LiFePO4 as cathode material and graphitic carbon as an anode. It’s compact and priced higher than the Li-ion battery. However, the battery has a lower voltage drop and a longer lifespan, which compensates for the high price. The lithium phosphate batteries can operate for up to 12 years with little to no maintenance cost.
These batteries can perform well in extreme temperatures, making them a good fit for solar lights. It’s also environmentally friendly, requires less time to recharge, and supplies a constant output voltage. The lithium phosphate battery can deliver power up to 3.2V during discharge without needing any voltage regulating circuitry. LPF batteries, however, have a lower capacity rating than Li-ion batteries.
The lead-acid battery is the most economical rechargeable battery type for power-hungry applications like UPS systems, cars, and solar. They are widely used because of their compatible price range and decent lifespan. On average, the lead-acid can operate for around 5 years which is fair enough for the price range.
Unlike most batteries, these batteries recharge slowly, typically requiring 8 to 16 hours for a full recharge. They also need regular maintenance and have a higher risk of explosion if handled carelessly. Another disadvantage of the lead-acid battery is its subpar performance in extreme weather conditions. Environmental extremes can take a toll on the performance of the battery and significantly reduce its service life.
Sodium Nickel Chloride
The Sodium Nickel Chloride (Na-NiCl2) is a high-temperature battery that can perform at -20 to 60 ⁰C. They are fully recyclable and contains no content harmful to the environment. Unlike the Li-ion batteries, the Na-NiCl2 battery doesn’t have any fire risk and requires no active cooling system.
Despite the benefits these batteries offer, their cost/kWh is much higher than Li-ion batteries, making them expensive to use. Another drawback of the sodium nickel chloride battery is the lower depth of discharge. The battery can be discharged up to 80 percent, meaning that a considerable amount of power goes unused.
Do You Need Special Rechargeable Batteries for Solar Lights?
Solar lights do not need any special rechargeable solar batteries. They can be powered using the standard Ni MH and NiCd rechargeable solar batteries conveniently available in the market. Although you can use regular alkaline-based batteries in your solar garden lights, they won’t be able to last due to a low mAh capacity.
Regular batteries can also lead to corrosion of terminals and permanent system failure. Below, we outline a few more concerns when using regular solar light batteries.
- Corrosion of terminals: Regular batteries, especially alkaline-based batteries, are made to be disposed of after they run out of charge. Solar light applications can quickly drain their charge, leading to corrosion of terminals and potential charging problems.
- Permanent system failure: Continued use of regular batteries can cause permanent system damages and put your entire solar light unit at risk.
- Unreliable performance: Since regular batteries aren’t designed for solar lights, they won’t perform as efficiently as NiMH and NiCd rechargeable batteries. When using regular batteries in solar lights, it’s common to experience abrupt power drains, flickering lights, and subpar performance.
- Voiding the warranty: As you might have noticed in the buyer’s guide, most solar light units come with a money-back and limited warranty; however, using replacement batteries not recommended by the manufacturer can void the unit’s warranty. Any damages incurred to the solar light won’t be covered in case you use regular batteries.
What to Consider Before Buying a Rechargeable Battery
Even if you’ve narrowed your choice to a few rechargeable batteries listed in the guide, you’ll really need to purchase only one at a time.
So, which battery unit do you buy?
To answer this question, we’ve compiled the essential features of rechargeable batteries that you need to consider when buying batteries for your solar lights.
The solar battery charge capacity is a factor that massively affects the performance of solar lights. The higher the capacity, the brighter your LEDs will be and the longer they will illuminate your surroundings. Charge capacity is measured in mAh and provides a clear indication of the battery life.
When purchasing a rechargeable battery, make sure to choose a unit with a higher mAh capacity. Steer clear of anything below 600 mAh because it won’t provide enough energy to power your solar lights.
The following list depicts how the 10 best rechargeable batteries in our guide fare against each other in terms of mAh capacity.
The recharge cycle refers to the number of times a battery can be recharged during its lifespan. It’s normal for rechargeable batteries to last 2 years, but we suggest that you find a pack that offers at least 1000 cycles.
The self-discharge rate is the amount of charge a battery loses if it remains unused. When buying rechargeable batteries for garden lights, pick those that can retain at least 70 percent of their charge for over 3 years unused.
Number of Batteries per pack
You may also want to consider the number of batteries in a single pack. The more pieces there are, the better because you’ll have plenty of reserve batteries in case a battery stops working. Also, buying batteries in bulk is a much more affordable option than purchasing them in single pieces.
Type of Battery
Rechargeable batteries are available in various types depending on the composition and cell type. Most solar lights use NiMH and NiCd batteries; however, other battery types can also power solar lights. When buying a rechargeable battery, make sure that it is compatible with your solar lights.
There’s no fixed price for rechargeable batteries. Their price depends on features like recharge cycle, capacity, and cell type. While the price may not be the most important factor, you should consider it when buying rechargeable batteries.
How Long do Rechargeable Batteries Last in Solar Lights?
Standard rechargeable batteries can last around 2 to 3 years. However, the battery type, recharge cycle rating, and usage can impact a battery’s lifespan. It’s advised to recharge a battery every three months to maintain its lifespan for optimal performance even if the battery is not in use.
It’s normal to see a decline in your solar lights’ brightness as a battery completes its maximum recharge cycle rating. To check the health of the battery, temporarily replace them with a regular battery. This will allow you to compare the performance of the two batteries and determine if they are faulty.
We hope that the information presented in the buying guide will help you choose the right batteries for your solar lights. All the brands listed above have excellent charge capacities, decent recharge cycle ratings, and low self-discharge. As such, they will keep your solar lights running from dusk to dawn.
AmazonBasics, Energizer, and Eneloop are the most popular brands for AA rechargeable solar light batteries that can easily meet your energy needs. However, brands like EBL, Tenergy, and Duracell don’t lag by much in terms of features. We suggest that you analyze your solar light needs and compare each product’s pros and cons before making a purchase.
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