Solar Lights Without Batteries or Sun (Guide)

Some solar-powered lights come as integrated units with a small solar panel to charge the internal battery in the light. If the battery in a solar panel light dies, can it be powered without a battery?

Another question people often ask is whether light can be connected directly to a solar panel. We will examine the following topics to answer these frequently asked solar questions.

  • Do solar panel lights need a battery?
  • Why do solar panel lights need a battery?
  • Can you connect a light directly to a solar panel without a battery?
  • How to connect a light to a solar panel.

Many people mistakenly think that electricity generated by a solar panel can be used directly from the panel itself.

Solar Lights On Grass
Solar Lights On Grass

Can A Solar Panel Light Work Without A Battery?

Solar power lights cannot be used without a battery to store the electricity generated during the day by the solar panel for use at night. Without a battery, there is no means to store the energy for later use once the sun has gone down.

Solar panel lights are most often in the format of outdoor lights, such as garden lights or security lights mounted on the exterior walls of your home.

These lights have a solar panel built into the construction of the light, which takes energy from the sun during the day. These lights also have a rechargeable battery built into the unit.

The energy from the solar panel charges the battery to restore it to full charge during daylight hours.

These solar panel lights generally have a day/night sensor built into their electronics, which allows the light to detect when night falls and automatically turn on the light.

A Wet Solar Light In The Garden After Rainfall. - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
A Wet Solar Light In The Garden After Rainfall.

Why Do Solar Lights Need A Battery?

Solar lights are intended to be illuminated at night when they provide a useful function of lighting up dark areas of your property or around your home. The battery stores the daytime solar energy for use at night to power the light.

Generally speaking, the time of day that the lights are most useful is in the dark hours of the night. At these times of day, there is no sunshine to activate the photovoltaic cells of the solar panel and generate electricity.

Consequently, for the lights to operate in the dark of night, the electricity generated must be stored somehow to power the lights once the sun is no longer in the sky.

Battery Storage

The best way to achieve this energy storage is with a battery. The solar panel in the light slowly charges the internal battery throughout the day.

Generally, 6 hours of sunlight is required to charge the battery fully. The recharging process takes so long due to the small size of the solar panel built into the structure of the light.

A larger panel will charge the battery faster, which is why some solar panel lights are manufactured with a separate solar panel.

This type of construction allows the solar panel to be larger because the physical size of the light does not limit its size. These solar panel lights will charge much faster in good sunlight conditions.

A Round Solar Powered Garden Lamp. - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
A Round Solar Powered Garden Lamp.

What Happens If The Battery In Your Solar Light Dies?

If the battery in your solar panel light dies, you will need to replace the batteries in the light with an appropriate rechargeable battery to replace the defective battery.

The light cannot function without the storage capability of the battery.

Rechargeable batteries have a limited duty cycle and will eventually deteriorate to the point that they need to be replaced. The constant depletion of the battery’s charge and the recharging of the battery takes their toll on the chemical composition of the battery.

Its efficiency at receiving a full charge and holding that charge will slowly diminish.

You will know that the battery in your solar panel light is near the end of its useable life when it takes longer to charge, and when the light comes on, the battery does not last the night, and the light goes out.

The light will also have a diminished brightness with a battery not operating at full capacity.

Batteries

Most solar panel lights have a battery compartment at the back of the light to replace the defective batteries. The size of the batteries in the light will depend on the size of the light.

Most garden solar lights will use rechargeable batteries in the AA or AAA size range.

Some solar panel lights require a screwdriver to open the battery compartment. Open the battery bay, and remove the defective batteries with new rechargeable batteries of the appropriate size.

Do not use normal batteries in a solar panel light! These batteries are not intended to be recharged; they could cause a fire or explode if you put them in a solar panel light.

Solar Light In A Garden With The Sun Shining
Solar Light In A Garden With The Sun Shining

Can The Light Be Powered Directly From The Solar Panel?

A light cannot be powered directly from a solar panel. The voltage from the solar panel is not stable enough to power the light effectively.

As the voltage fluctuates, the light will dim and get brighter, and if the solar panel generates a spike, the light can be damaged.

Solar panels do not generate clean power. The energy level fluctuates with the amount of light the panel receives. If a cloud passes in front of the sun or a shadow falls on the solar panel, the panel’s energy output will drop.

Power Drops

As the sun rises in the sky, the solar panel will generate a large amount of energy, and as the sun begins to set, the amount of energy the panel produces will drop.

This fluctuating energy makes it impractical to attach a light directly to a solar panel. Another device is required between the light and the solar panel to clean up the dirty energy produced by the panel.

Modern Garden Lantern Powered By Solar Energy Decorative Lighting For The Backyard. - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
Modern Garden Lantern Powered By Solar Energy Decorative Lighting For The Backyard.

How To Connect A Light To A Solar Panel Without A Battery

There is no efficient way to connect a light to a solar panel. However, it can be done with a DC-DC converter to clean up the panel’s energy output.

Once the voltage generated by the panel drops below the required input from the converter, the light will go out.

A DC-DC converter is a device that takes s DC voltage and outputs a constant DC output voltage.

For example, a DC-DC converter with a 48-volt input to 12-volt output will clean up the 48-volt input from minor fluctuations and deliver a constant 12-volts output.

The disadvantage of a DC-DC converter is that once the input voltage drops below the rated input of the unit, it cuts off the output power, and the light will go out.

General Solar Panel FAQ

What Problems Do Solar Panels Solve?

In environmental terms, solar panels can potentially solve a handful of problems, including;
1. Air pollution
2. Water pollution
3. Greenhouse gases
4. Reduction in fossil fuel use

For individuals, solar energy allows you to become completely self-sufficient when it comes to your electricity needs and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

What Are 3 Important Uses Of Solar Panels?

The three most important uses of solar panels are;
1. Solar electricity. This can be used to power almost any appliance in your home, including TVs, computers, and fridges.
2. Lighting. In addition to the use of low-power, LED lightbulbs, solar panels can provide an efficient, low-cost, and environmentally friendly way to provide lighting to homes. 
3. Portable solar. In our modern, always-connected lives, our phones, tablets, and computers are almost always with us, and all run on batteries. Portable PV chargers can help keep our batteries topped up no matter where we are, as long as there is some sun to charge them.

Do solar panels give you free electricity?

Once the cost of the array is paid in full, the energy it produces is free. There are ongoing maintenance costs, too, such as annual panel cleaning, etc. 

How much will my electric bill be with solar panels?

Suppose your solar array includes a solar battery backup system, and it is large enough to fully cover your energy usage per day. In that case, your monthly electric bill will be next to zero dollars, even with a grid-tied system. 

If your solar array does not include a solar battery backup system, then at night, your house or business will use grid electricity. That cost will vary but expect to pay from 1/3-2/3 of your average electric bill, and that cost will fluctuate seasonally. 

Do you save money with solar panels?

The simple answer is, Yes, you save money with solar panels. There is an initial upfront cost, but since solar panels are warrantied for 25 years, you will save money over time. You will also begin to see monthly savings in energy bills, but there are other ways that solar panels pay you back. Those include:
1. Adding value to your home or commercial building 
2. Monthly decreases in energy costs
3. The ability to add more energy appliances without increased monthly costs
4. The potential for tax credits for going solar

Can solar panels power a house 24-7?

Most definitely! Solar panels can certainly power a house 24-7, with the addition of a high-quality inverter and a suitable battery bank, of course. To power, a house under normal usage will require a massive solar array, though, and there will be a very expensive initial financial outlay.

Do I need to tell my energy supplier I have solar panels?

This depends on where you live, but in most cases, it’s not necessary to inform your energy supplier that you have solar panels. That said, you may be producing excess power with your solar system, in which case you may be able to sell that excess power back to energy companies.

In this case, you’ll naturally need to be in contact with them. 

What Are Solar Cells Known as and Why?

Solar cells are also called photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are called so because the term ‘photovoltaic’ literally means light i.e. photo and electricity i.e. voltaic.

These cells generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. This effect basically causes the generation of free electrons from the semiconducting silicon material of the solar panel when sunlight hits its surface.

What Type of Solar Panels Are Most Efficient and Why?

There are currently three types of solar panels available in the market that are:
1. Monocrystalline
2. Polycrystalline
3. Thin-filmed

Among these, monocrystalline solar panels are known to be the most efficient among all others.

Does heat enter your home through the roof?

Absolutely. Heat enters your home through your roof, and on a hot day your attic can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Through conduction, heat from the sun warms your roof which then warms your attic and the rest of your home.

Sol Voltaics is an affiliate and an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases - at no extra cost to you.

FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR

Sol Voltaics Logo Icon green white
SOL VOLTAICS