Can Solar Lights Catch Fire?

With the rising need to find better alternatives to electricity consumption, the demand for solar-powered lighting is increasing daily.

There is a huge gap between green and eco-friendly alternatives but, the inventions shouldn’t be coming out with a compromise on safety and security.

Solar-powered lights are prone to catching fire! Especially the ones with lithium-ion batteries because of their extremely combustible and volatile nature.

You have to ensure they are working under favorable conditions and keep them from overheating or puncturing them. In most cases, working with cheap solar lights may be one of the reasons for getting into any mishap.

Though this doesn’t mean you have to avoid using them- it’s just about making the right choices and taking all precautionary measures to keep you safe from fire and other incidents. This article will guide you on how you can do that:

Is Solar Light Prone to Catching Fire? 

Yes, solar lighting fixtures can easily catch fire if working in unfavorable conditions. Since they are provided with one or more batteries that work on photovoltaic panels, it’s recommended to be careful.

They used to charge those panels to power fixtures when the light fades. In short, every device working on batteries is potentially at risk of getting into any incident.

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Though, this risk is smaller than you might have thought. It just requires some precautions and attention as well as an understanding of details in order to treat minor problems.

What Is the Process of Power Storage in Solar-powered Lights?

Every solar light has its own batteries that are either attached to the lights or placed on a separate unit being attached through a cable.

The aim is to collect as much solar energy and save it in the batteries as possible so that the energy can be utilized to power lights at night.

The mechanism of solar lights is responsible for converting solar energy into electrical energy that passes through the controller board to charge the batteries.

It has some safety circuitry to prevent over-voltage, overcharging, voltage, and overheating.

What Are the Different Types of Batteries Used in Solar Lights?

Nowadays, manufacturers choose one of the following three types of batteries for their solar lights:

NiCd

Nickel Cadmium or NiCd is the cheapest and oldest type of battery that can work in extreme weather conditions i.e.-30oC to +50oC.

Though, they are prone to the memory effect, meaning that they don’t operate at their optimal capacity over time.

Despite having the option to recondition and charge properly, they haven’t given satisfactory results in solar lights.

NiMH

Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are capable of working for a significantly longer time than NiCd, even upon 40% charging.

But, they take temperature changes seriously and may find a compromise in their performance. Moreover, their efficiency also decreases over time regardless of not getting affected by the memory effect.

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Li-Ion

Lithium-Ion batteries are the widely used type because of their ability to store a lot of power in a small space. They have been the perfect addition to many gadgets, particularly laptops, mobile phones, tablets, etc.

They don’t deal with memory effects but may seem volatile due to their manufacturing methods and chemistry.

Whilst being the cost-effective version, Li-Ion batteries are prone to catching fire due to the high volatility of the Lithium cells.

Why Are Lithium-Ion Batteries Volatile?

Due to its high concentration, lithium can store a lot of energy in a small space.

It is highly combustible at the same time as each cell reacts with organic solvents and lithium salts that can combust at any time.

Inside these lithium batteries is a porous, thick slip of polypropylene responsible for controlling the electrodes.

When the separator leaves its place, all electrodes get in touch with each other and generate heat, named as thermal runaway. And this means what you are thinking!

Here, it is worth mentioning that lithium-ion batteries need smart controllers to keep track of their performance. These controllers are responsible for making sure that no battery is overcharged or drains energy below a certain level.

What Are the Possibilities of Catching Fire in Solar Lights?

Despite the fact that there is minimal risk of catching fire, it’s important to know every possible cause or reason that could lead you to that situation.

Moreover, this knowledge will bring you to a better solution. So, let’s have a look at some of the causes:

Battery

As mentioned above, lithium-ion batteries are the biggest cause of catching fire. When there is power leakage or overheating in batteries, and they get in touch with highly flammable material like dry leaves, it catches fire.

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To minimize this risk even further, today’s manufacturers used to install intelligent controllers that maintain the battery’s condition and keep them safe from being overcharged, overheating, and other faults.

In case of any damage, the controller may shut down the lights.

Faulty Wiring

Damaged and faulty wiring can easily start a fire. If the job hasn’t been done properly or handled by an unprofessional electrician, solar lights can destroy everything in their surroundings.

In fact, if you don’t have enough knowledge and try to do modifications by yourself, it would cost you a lot.

Inferior Material

Always make sure that you choose solar lights with good quality material, or else you might have to face severe consequences.

Cheap quality lights are usually prone to overheat, which may lead to catching fire every now and then. Even they don’t have safety controllers to regulate the charge within the batteries.

Conclusion

Finding decent solar lights may require investment, but be certain about getting the best out of it. The rule of thumb is to never compromise on quality to save some bucks because it may bring up many problems.

All you need to do is to take your time, do some research and come up with the right solar lights to reduce the risk of catching fire.