Can I use a higher mAh battery in solar lights?

  • Can I use a higher mAh battery in solar lights?

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    It’s not going to hurt, but the output of the charger may not be enough to fully charge the larger capacity battery. The light probably uses a YX805 chip to control everything – see if you can take the light apart enough to see – some are glued together, so you might not. Specs for this are available online and that might let you know what is possible.


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    Answer requested by

    I assume you mean the inexpensive yard lights with self contained batteries.

    You can use larger capacity batteries. It will take longer to fully charge them from a fixed solar source, but once charged, the batteries should give longer on time.

    Yard lights tend to be hard on battteries as they don’t protect against over charge or especially over discharge.


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    Answer requested by

    In your opinion, what would be the average initial startup cost for product development?

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    You certainly could, assuming the new battery will fit and will make proper electrical contact. And it would probably be safe under the following conditions:

    1. Same battery design (nickel metal hydride, lithium, etc.) You can usually (pretty safely) replace NiCad with NiMH, but never replace either with lithium unless you know that the lithium battery has a built-in over/undercharge circuit. Without such a safety circuit, the phone charger would almost certainly overcharge the battery and it would likely explode or become a nasty firebomb. And the lithium battery voltage is unlikely to be compatible.
    2. Same fully-charged battery voltage i.e. same number of cells in series.
    3. Will still fit properly in charging cradle.
    4. Charger can handle the longer charging cycle. Because higher capacity often involves cells in parallel, the charging current could be a bit higher, and would have high current draw for much longer. But most modern chargers could deal with the longer charge cycle).

    The mAh property of batteries relates only the their electrical capacity. The ‘h’ is for ‘hour’. Larger values give longer life.

    You can replace cells with ones of different capacity without running into electrical issues. Larger capacity in the same physical package is the result of manufacturing improvements.

    There are few issues though, mostly of the common sense variety.

    • Do not mix different capacity cells within the same device. The running time will be limited by the smallest capacity cell which will end up degraded when it is exhausted.
    • The original charger will take longer to charge the cells, in proportion to the change in capacity. Slow charging is only a time issue.
    • Ni-Cd technology has been superseded by NiMH technology. They are interchangeable but do not mix them. (NiMH is preferable.)
    • Check that the cells are physically interchangeable. There can occasionally be unexpected problems with some devices regarding small differences in the contact dimensions and the insulating covering the outside of cylindrical cells.

    Assuming the replacement is the same size, then the main issue is that of maximum charge and discharge current. Generally with Lithium Ion cells, the larger the capacity (mAh) the lower the maximum discharge current. A good 2000mAh cell might provide up to 35A maximum discharge current, whereas a 3500mAh would be 5–10A maximum. This is because to get high capacity the electrodes have to be thinner and longer, with higher resistance.

    The exception to this was back in the day, you could buy NiCd ‘D’ cells at anything between 1.2Ah and 4Ah, with similar maximum discharge currents. The cheaper, low capacity cells were much lighter, I think they were small cells padded out to size!

    If your maximum drain is low, then you can use higher capacity cells. If Lithium ion, you may want to consider chemistry. ICR cells are high capacity, but are more dangerous if abused, than IMR and INR cells.

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    You are talking about lithium batteries, the voltages are cut-off low 2.2v norminal 3.7v full charge 4.2v, just a single cell. If the voltage is the same most commonly 3.7v yes the Mah is just how much charge the battery can hold. 2400 mah is 2.4 amp hours. So 3000mah would just be a slightly larger battery than the 2400mah battery. You can definitely swap the batteries with no effect other than the device will last longer In whatever the devices is being used for. Additionally most battery powered item that run on 3 AAA battery setup in a cylinder will take a lithium battery. 18650 most of the time

    Like Loring has said it will work and last longer but you have change all of them, if the device that you are using uses multiple of them and it is better to go with identical cells.

    The reason why I’m also answering is I would just like to add a little bit which is if your device(the one that you are talking about) also charges the cell/cells, for the new 2000mAh cell it will take much much longer, bear that in mind. If it needed 6 hours on a 300mAh cell it will need more than 40 hours to top up the 2000mAh one.


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    The number of mAh is the number of milliamps that can be delivered for an hour. mAh = mA x hours. However the current is only one parameter of interest. If you are concerned with the energy that can be delivered, then the voltage comes into it. If the batteries you mentioned have the same voltage, then the 900 mAh battery will deliver 1.6 times the energy of the 550 mAh one. Energy = mWh x voltage. So a 900 mAh NiMH battery will store about 900 x 1.4 = 1260 mWh, whereas a 550 mAh lithium cell with a voltage of 3.6 volts would store 550 x 3.6 = 1980 mWh. Which is more energy.

    However if you are talking about two batteries of the same type (voltage) the one with more mAh is clearly the better one, regardless of the load.

    I think it depends mostly on weather the charge controller is located in the device, or on the battery itself. You won’t burn anything up by plugging it in unless the voltage is out of range, or the polarity is reversed. At best, you’ll have greater run times; At worst, you’ll have a battery that won’t quite charge to it’s designed capacity. I think it’s more likely, as is my experience, that the battery will charge to it’s design capacity. All lithium batteries charge to 4.2v per cell regardless of capacity. I’m nearly certain that you’ll notice a benefit. You may want to run a complete 100 percent charge, then do a complete discharge to allow your device to calibrate to the new battery (don’t do this too often). This won’t make your battery last longer, but it will allow your device to more accurately gauge the charge. There are plenty of online tutorials explaining the specifics of lithium battery (or any type for that matter) care. The addition of SBS hardware to most batteries complicates things quite a bit. Just plug it in and enjoy. Most modern tech has so many safety countermeasures, that all you LIKELY need to worry about is weather it fits.

    Depends on what model you buy. I check the “ingredients” list on the packaging and have gotten solar lights with AA rechargeable batteries, usually the cheapest the manufacturer could find, and swap them out with better rechargeable AAs. If you mean regular batteries, like carbon, then no. The point of the solar panel is to recharge the battery, so the battery has to be rechargeable.

    I take it you mean a solar powered light?

    Also the voltage of the new battery must be the same as the old one eg 1.5v

    During the day the solar panel will put charge into the battery. When the light is turned on it uses the batteries stored power for the light. Using a higher capacity battery (mAh) will mean that it takes longer to charge fully, and allow you to use the light for longer before the battery is discharged.


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