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Replacing the Rechargeable Batteries in Outdoor Solar Lights and Solar Garden Lights: How and When?

03/10/2011 By: Solar Lights Plus More.com - Owner                                                             

Outdoor solar lights and solar garden lights use rechargeable batteries to keep the lights lit at night.  Each solar light has a solar panel that charges the rechargeable batteries by the sun during the day. Then at night when there is no sun the light turns on automatically and lights all night until dawn when the sun comes up again. It then turns itself off to restart the process all over again to charge during the day and light at night.

Most solar garden and outdoor solar lights use AA or AAA 1.2 V/600 mAh Ni-Cad (nickel cadmium) rechargeable batteries and some solar lights now come with AA 1.2V/1000 mAh NiMH (nickel metal hydride) rechargeable batteries. 

The recommendations are to replace the batteries with the size and type that they original come with for the solar lights to work properly. Meaning that if its a AA you use a AA, if it is a 1.2V you use a 1.2V, if it is a Ni-Cd, use a Ni-Cd, if it is a NiMh use a NiMh. 

As far as the mAh (MilliAmp Hours) factor is concerned, the difference here is about how much "juice" or power it will hold and how long it takes to charge it. A 600mAh to a 700mAh is a difference of 100mAh meaning it will have 100 more mAh of charge before it will run out of "juice" or power. The difference in charging length with your solar light will be a 600mAh will take approx. 7.2 hrs to charge and a 700mAh will take about 8.4 to charge. This is important to know when figuring how much direct sun will the solar panel get to recharge the batteries fully.

The rechargeable batteries for solar lights can last up to two years. When you begin to notice that the lights are weaker in brightness, begin to flicker or will not stay on for very long, then it becomes necessary to replace the batteries.

Lamp styles of solar lights vary but most allow for easy battery replacement. The batteries are normally located right under the solar panel.

Below are instructions for 4 different lamp styles of solar lights with pictures.

1.   Standard Solar Garden Path Light

2.   Solar Fence Post Cap Light

3.   Solar Stake Light

4.   Solar Spot Light with Non-Movable Solar Panel

INSTRUCTIONS: 

  • For some lamp styles you may or may not need a Phillips-head screwdriver. 
  • You’ll also need the rechargeable batteries. Once you get inside you will know the size, type and number of batteries you will need. Then you can go buy what you need.

 1.    Standard Solar Garden Path Light        

    A.   Hold the solar light lens cap with one hand, and twist the head of the solar light (solar panel housing- the top that has the solar panel on it) counter clock wise with your other hand.

Remove the head from the solar light lens cap. (Some lights may have a light diffuser cap underneath the solar light lens cap that covers the LED light and sits on top of the battery cover. If so, twist this light diffuser cap off in the same manner.)

 

 B.   At this point you will have the head of the solar light in your hand looking at the opposite side from the panel. This side will have the LED light(s) and you will also see a battery cover.

 C. Open the cover of the battery. Some covers may have a screw holding it in place. If so, unscrew the screw and remove the battery cover. If it does not have a screw it is held in place by tabs on both sides of the cover underneath the cover. Just push in on the side of the battery cover (it will have a slight cut out for you to put your finger in or a small screw driver in so you can push the cover to the side to unhook the tabs that are holding it closed). The cover will now pop out, just be care not to break the tabs that hold it in place.

                    

    D.   Remove the old battery(ies) and replace with the new battery(ies). Inside the battery holder it will show you how to place the battery. One side will have “+” the other will have “_” and the battery will have the same. Just match up like signs. If there are no markings inside the battery holder, the negative side of the holder is the one with the spring on it and the negative side of the battery is the side that is flat (not the side with the nub on it).  Remember negative to negative and plus to plus.

 E.   Replace the battery cover by screwing it back down or snapping it back on making sure the long tabs side into the slits on the inside of the battery cover and the short tabs click into place.

 F.    If your light has a On/Off switch make sure that it is in the “ON” position. Now just put the solar light lens cap (and the light diffuser cap if it has one) back on by reversing the procedure you used to take it off. Your light is now ready to be put back in the ground in your yard or garden. After a full 6-8 hour charge your light will begin to light once again.

2.   Solar Fence Post Cap Light

A.   For this light, the top that has the solar panel on it just pulls off. So if you have the light fixture screwed to a fence post or any type of post there is no need to take it off the post. Hold the bottom of the post cap light with one hand and with the other hand hold the head of the light that has the panel on it.   Pull the head of the light fixture off. They normally fit a little tight so pull firmly. 

 

          

  B.   At this point you will have the head of the solar light in your hand looking at the opposite side from the panel. This side will have the LED light(s) and you will also see a battery cover.

 C.   Open the cover of the battery. Some covers may have a screw holding it in place. If so, unscrew the screw and remove the battery cover. If it does not have a screw it is held in place by tabs on both sides of the cover underneath the cover. Just push in on the side of the battery cover (it will have a slight cut out for you to put your finger in or a small screw driver in so you can push the cover to the side to unhook the tabs that are holding it closed). The cover will now pop out, just be care not to break the tabs that hold it in place.

D.   Remove the old battery(ies) and replace with the new battery(ies). Inside the battery holder it will show you how to place the battery. One side will have “+” the other will have “_” and the battery will have the same. Just match up like signs.  If there are no markings inside the battery holder, the negative side of the holder is the one with the spring on it and the negative side of the battery is the side that is flat (not the side with the nub on it). Remember negative to negative and plus to plus.

E.   Replace the battery cover by screwing it back down or snapping it back on making sure the long tabs side into the slits on the inside of the battery cover and the short tabs click into place.

 G.   If your light has a On/Off switch make sure that it is in the “ON” position. Now just push the solar light head back on top of the light fixture. Your light is now ready to charge in a full day of sunshine and start illuminating once again.

3.   Solar Stake Light 

A.   A Solar Stake Light is a solar light with a decorative light fixture on top of the LED, such as a tulip, butterfly or maybe a hummingbird. It has a long stake with a tip on the bottom of the stake to stick in the ground.

 B. Halfway down the stake is the solar panel. The panel should move up and down. Move it up so that you see the back side of the panel case. There you will see an On/Off switch plus 2 screw holes where there are screws that hold the panel case together. Unscrew these screws with a small screw driver (most of these screws are Phillip head screws). They are very small so be careful not to drop them. Put the screws in a safe place while you change the battery.

         

  C. Once the screws are out, the panel case can now be pulled apart. Pull the case apart. Underneath the solar panel case you will find the battery.

 D. Remove the old battery(ies) and replace with the new battery(ies). Inside the battery holder it will show you how to place the battery. One side will have “+” the other will have “_” and the battery will have the same. Just match up like signs. If there are no markings inside the battery holder, the negative side of the holder is the one with the spring on it and the negative side of the battery is the side that is flat (not the side with the nub on it). Remember negative to negative and plus to plus.

 E.   Put the panel case back together and return the screws into the screw holes and screw them down snug not tight. If you get them too tight you may strip the holes out. Make sure the On/Off switch is turned "ON". Your solar stake light is ready to be placed back into your yard. After a full days charge in direct sunlight (6-8 hours) your light will once again be lighting up.

 4.    Solar Spot Light with Non Movable Solar Panel

A.   This style of solar spot light has 4 LED lights and a solar panel that extends above the light and does not move. The panel size is approximately 5.5” x 4.5”. The rechargeable batteries are located underneath the solar panel.

 B.   The easiest way to get to the batteries is to first remove the mounting pole so it is not in the way. Then turn the light upside down so that the solar panel is setting on a flat smooth surface and not setting on anything that may scratch the panel.

C.   Once upside down, on the back of the solar panel you will see a screw in each corner on the back of the solar panel for a total of 4 screws.

 

 

D.   Unscrew all 4 screws with a small screw driver (most of these screws are Phillip head screws). They are very small so be careful not to drop them. Put the screws in a safe place while you change the battery.

E.   When you have all the screws out, tilt the light slightly backward so that the panel just separates from the light head. Do not completely pull it apart as there are wires underneath that are connected to the solar panel and the battery case that sits on the light head.  

 

 F.    Remove the old battery(ies) and replace with the new battery(ies). If your solar spot light has more than 1 or 2 LED lights it will more than likely have more then 1 or 2 batteries in it.  Inside the battery holder it will show you how to place the battery. One side will have “+” the other will have “_” and the battery will have the same. Just match up like signs. If there are no markings inside the battery holder, the negative side of the holder is the one with the spring on it and the negative side of the battery is the side that is flat (not the side with the nub on it). Remember negative to negative and plus to plus.

 G.   Put the panel case back together being careful not to pinch the wiring anywhere. Return the screws into the screw holes and screw them down snug not tight. If you get them too tight you may strip the holes out. If there is an On/Off switch, make sure that the switch is in the “ON” position. Your solar spot light is ready to be placed back into your yard. After a full days charge in direct sunlight (6-8 hours) your solar light will once again be shining brightly.

 

For solar garden decoration lights such as your gnomes or dog statues that have solar lights in them, the battery cover is normally located underneath the statue itself. The battery cover should have a screw that you just have to unscrew and take off the cover to get to the battery.

As mentioned before, there are many different styles and types of solar lights.  As you can see from above that depending on the lamp type and style the batteries are located in different locations and in different ways. This gives you the basic instructions on how and when to change batteries for a few different styles. The thing to remember when trying to locate the rechargeable batteries in your solar lights, are that the battery has to be located somewhere near the solar panel or the LED light itself. The solar panel is connected to the battery then the battery connected to the LED light somewhere - somehow. 

 Tips, Recommendations & Warnings:

  • When replacing batteries in outdoor solar lights - solar garden lights, make sure you check the battery connections. If there is any rust or corrosion, clean the connections before putting in the new batteries. A regular maintenance check will help your solar light batteries last longer.
  • Do not use regular alkaline batteries in a solar light. Regular alkaline batteries are not rechargeable and will not recharge. If used in a solar light they may leak when subjected to the charging current from the panel and severely damage your solar light.
  • If you need to test your solar light to see if it is lighting up when it is not dark, the easiest way is to either test it in a dark room or cover the panel completely with your hand to disengage the charger to activate the bulb to light up.
  •  Periodically, clean the solar panel on you solar lights to remove dirt, dust and grime that may build up on the panel, thus shading the panel from the sun light and prevent the panel from fully charging the battery.
  • Replacement batteries for solar lights are available to purchase at all kinds of websites on the internet. Here at Solar Lights Plus More.com we carry and sell a 10 pack of Ni-Cd AA 700mAh 1.2V rechargeable batteries.  As stated earlier in this article the only difference between a 600mAh and a 700mAh is:  how much "juice" or power it will hold and how long it takes to charge it. A 600mAh to a 700mAh is a difference of 100mAh meaning it will have 100 more mAh (MilliAmp Hours) of charge before it will run out of "juice" or power. The difference in charging length with your solar light will be a 600mAh will take approx. 7.2 hrs to charge and a 700mAh will take approx. 8.4 to charge. This is important to know when figuring how much direct sun will the solar panel get the recharge your batteries fully.

11 comments to Replacing the Rechargeable Batteries in Outdoor Solar Lights: 


From: Rex - Dec. 18, 2013 at 3:52 P.M. URL: http://kakoluri.com ~ Comment

Great information presented clearly. Thanks for explaining the different kinds of solar lights and the illustrations.


From: Frank - Dec. 09, 2013 at 5:34 A.M. URL: sciarrarealestate.com ~ Comment

Just what I needed...great..thank you...by the way....did you know that you can bring in your lights in event of a black out?

Reply from Solar Lights Plus More.com: 

Yes you can.  Your solar lights can act as some light for inside in the event that you have a block out as long as the solar lights have been fully charged by the sun that day.   This way you would not have to worry about lighting candles are just using a flash light. Thanks for adding this great tip!


From: Alan - Sept. 12, 2013 at 1:47 P.M. ~ Comment

Thank you, could not understand why a new light went dead so fast. Sitting in Home Depot warehouse for seven months. I now charge the batteries 12 hrs in my charger before install them outside. Great Info. Appreciated.


From: Robert - April 15, 2013 at 11:11 A.M. ~ Comment

Great Web site.


From: Patricia - Sept 21, 2012 at 7:27 P.M. ~ Comment

I too am grateful for the information you provided so well. Thank you.


From: Pat - July 25, 2012 at 4:56 P.M. ~ Comment

I don't usually post comments but this information was so clearly put and readily understandable - THANK YOU


From: Kevin - June 30, 2012 at 5:38 P.M. ~ Comment

Thank you so very much for your informative information, Your website was the very first one I came to and am glad that I did I have the very first light you gave directions for. Thank you again.


From: Stan - May 11, 2012 at 4:11 P.M. ~ Comment

Clear as crystal - thanks for keeping it simple.

From: W. S. - March 30, 2012 at 3:01 A.M. ~ Comment

Thank you for sharing. Not to many people in your position are so gracious. Your article was very poignant and understandable. It helped me to understand very clearly. Thank you for your help.


From: T. S. - November 29, 2011 at 7:18 P.M. ~ Comment

thanks so much 4 info Who would of thought that there r rechargeable batteries in solar lights

Reply From Solar Lights Plus More.com: Just to give a simply answer of why garden solar lights needs rechargeable batteries:   Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, and with a solar garden light this is done by directly using photovoltaics or in other words through the solar panel that the garden light has.  A solar panel converts the sunlight into useable electricity however does not store that electricity. So being a garden light which you would need at night and not during the daylight hours, you need some type of storage system to store the electricity that the solar panel has created for use during non sunlight hours. 

In a garden solar light there is a automatic light censor that turns the light on at night and off during the day. The solar panel collects the sunlight during the day and converts it to useable electricity then transfers the electricity into a rechargeable battery to store it for use at night when the light comes on and the sun is not shining.  Otherwise the solar light would be on all day and not at night since the solar panel does not store the electricity that it collects and converts.


From: Depression Definition - August 04, 2011 at 8:01 AM  ~ Comment

That's really interesting.  Thanks for posting all the great information!  Had never thought of it all that way before.


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