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Can You Use Regular Batteries in Solar Lights? [All You Need To Know]

Tim Carter
Written by Tim Carter Last Updated: June 5, 2022

People around the world are discovering the advantages of solar lighting. Not only they are environmentally friendly but they allow us to save money on electricity bills. Solar-powered lights are also great in emergencies during natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, etc. What happens if solar lights don’t generate power? Can we use regular batteries in solar lights? Is it safe to use standard batteries in solar lights? And why do solar lights need batteries?

Standard alkaline batteries are not the best choice for solar lights. If you really need to, you can use standard alkaline batteries in solar lights but they can create many issues and harm your solar lights. Therefore, it’s best to have spare NiCd or NiMH rechargeable batteries in case you need to replace them.

Some solar lights can use standard rechargeable or alkaline AA batteries, but the lights can get damaged.

Alkaline batteries get their energy from the reaction between zinc metal and manganese dioxide. They are not intended for charging and should not be used in solar lamps.

However, you can use conventional batteries for a few days until you get new rechargeable ones.

However, keep in mind that the risk is not worth it because it can cause a permanent system failure. Also, the battery life or regular batteries when used in solar lights is not long, and they will drain within a few days.

Table of Contents

Can Solar Lights Use Regular Batteries?

Some solar lights can accommodate different batteries, but don’t think that the garden solar lights will work with standard batteries. What happens if you put a regular battery in a solar light? Can you put normal rechargeable batteries in solar lights?

For solar garden lights, rechargeable AA batteries are best.

Solar panels covert sunlight and charge these batteries so your lights use the power at night.

A rechargeable battery won’t harm the effectiveness and cause performance issues or even stop your solar lights from working.

On the other hand, standard batteries can jeopardize the longevity of your lights.

Also, their appearance can be damaged because of the weight of the standard rechargeable AA batteries, as they can weaken the construction of your solar lights. They can cause problems with the solar panel connection because it may be difficult to get good contact.

What Kind of Battery Goes into Solar Lights? 

You should check the batteries in your solar lights system before using them to light up your yard or other outdoor space.

Solar lights require rechargeable batteries because solar lights need to store the energy that solar panels absorb from the sun. Regular batteries cannot store energy as efficiently as NiMH and NiCd rechargeable batteries, causing damage to your solar lights.

Though solar lights get their energy from the sun, they use batteries to store that energy so that it can be output when there is no light source available, such as at night.

However, after a while, the batteries begin to store less and less energy, until they can no longer store any energy and we must replace them.

The battery’s storage capacity has a significant impact on the solar lights’ performance. The rechargeable battery must be able to hold the power generated by the solar cells.

Lead-acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are the most common type of battery.

Lead-acid batteries are less expensive than other solar-powered batteries.

However, although a lead-acid battery is a rechargeable battery, it requires regular maintenance. Besides, they can explode and contaminate the environment.

This is because they are vulnerable to damage from extreme weather, and the equipment they are connected to is no exception.

This type of battery can last from two to three years.

To power solar lighting systems, you may need a large solar panel to generate the high voltage current required by the lead-acid battery.

Lithium-ion Batteries

The lithium-ion battery outperforms the lead-acid battery.

Besides, solar-powered devices can benefit from the lithium-ion battery’s cost and high efficiency.

The battery has an average life expectancy of 5 to 6 years. The battery’s only flaw is that it responds to extreme temperature changes.

In the end, the output and type of solar lights you use to illuminate the garden should guide your solar light battery choice.

It is critical to do some research before purchasing a battery to make sure it will work well with your current solar lighting system, and this includes looking at its capacity and performance rating.

Solar panels make use of one of two types of batteries:

What Kind of Rechargeable Batteries Do Solar Lights Use?

Rechargeable NiMH Batteries and Rechargeable NiCd Batteries

Both NiMH and NiCd batteries are widely available, easily replaceable, and can even be upgraded.

Because NiMH and NiCd rechargeable batteries are interchangeable, you can use whichever one you prefer.

Because both batteries are rechargeable, unlike standard alkaline batteries, using alkaline solar light batteries can cause permanent damage to your solar lights, such as corrosion and solar panel failure.

While NiMH and NiCd rechargeable batteries are simple to install, using alkaline batteries in your solar lights can damage them to the point where they can no longer be replaced with rechargeable batteries. Alkaline batteries can power your solar lights for a limited time.

Replacement batteries may not hold a sufficient charge, so your lights may not work properly. However, once you install regular batteries in your solar lights, they can corrode the battery terminals.

Corrosion will eventually destroy the connection between the terminal and the battery, preventing power from reaching the solar panels. It is best not to risk installing alkaline batteries in your solar lights, because this may render them inoperable.

There is a method for cleaning the corrosion that regular batteries may cause, but it is dangerous and may cause the destruction of your solar lights.

If you notice corrosion, clean the battery terminal with a brush and baking soda diluted in water. If any excess water gets to the inner mechanism, it can cause permanent damage to the solar lights. Regardless of how careful you are, note that even a drop of water may seep through and damage your solar lights.

When replacing solar light batteries, use NiCd or NiMH rechargeable batteries. Using regular batteries is not worth the risk of permanent damage to your solar lights.

If, for example, rechargeable batteries are not immediately available, you should be able to use regular alkaline batteries in your solar lights for a couple of days while you wait for your new rechargeable batteries. Just make sure you are aware of the risks.

What Happens if You Put a Regular Battery in a Solar Light?

Alkaline AA batteries can reduce the efficiency of solar garden lights and even prevent them from working altogether. Here are the consequences of placing a regular battery in solar lights:


Some solar lights cannot be used for long periods without rechargeable batteries because their terminals can corrode. The presence of regular batteries can exacerbate this corrosion and cause the light to stop working properly. Removing the regular batteries will prevent corrosion and allow you to use your solar light again.

Insufficient Energy

Some solar lights, even when powered by regular batteries, cannot maintain a sufficient charge to function properly. However, by using rechargeable solar light batteries, you may save enough energy to allow the light to shine as brightly as it does when exposed to sunlight. That’s a possibility but not a guaranteed outcome.

Complete Failure

Typical alkaline batteries in your solar lights cannot accumulate the charge from the panel. This can cause an irreversible system failure because the DC cannot enter the battery.

Short Circuits

When a battery is placed on its own, corroded terminals can cause heavy corrosion and shorts, potentially resulting in fire or injury as wires tear free from terminal blocks. As a result, lights that can be powered by both rechargeable and regular batteries can be labeled with warnings against using standard alkaline batteries.

Low Efficiency

Some solar lights can’t keep their batteries charged enough to work properly if they are on battery power all the time. These lights can get dim after a few hours of charging in the sun because the sun can’t fully charge them. Even after only a few hours of charging, regular rechargeable batteries allow solar lights to work as brightly as before, but they drain the battery quickly and shorten its life.


Regular batteries can harm rechargeable cells by causing them to drain too quickly, causing corrosion on the terminals, and causing shorts in high-performance lights. As a result, we can only use some rechargeable batteries for solar lighting when a regular battery is not present because they can be damaged if exposed to them.

Even when the batteries are fully charged, regular batteries can prevent a solar light from operating at its brightest.

Alkaline batteries can leak chemicals that drain the battery’s power, cause corrosion, and cause damage. Regular batteries have a lower voltage and drain faster than rechargeable batteries, which reduces luminous efficiency.

Lower Production

While standard alkaline batteries have a maximum output voltage of 1.5V, rechargeable batteries can have output voltages ranging from 0.9 to 1.2V depending on the chemistry. The lower the voltage of the battery, the dimmer the lights can become, which may be less bright than with rechargeable batteries.

Final Thoughts

If you still need to turn on your lights while looking for replacement batteries for your old rechargeable batteries that are losing their ability to hold a charge, a regular alkaline battery can be used as a temporary power source, but replace it as soon as possible.

Solar lighting systems might fail for a variety of causes. However, in most cases, worn-out batteries are the root cause.

Solar light batteries, while environmentally friendly and cost-effective, will eventually lose their ability to store a charge. When this occurs, the solar lights will not work as well as they should.

Solar light batteries should be replaced at least once a year for optimal brightness.


Tim Carter
Tim Carter

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