Solar Batteries 101

Ashleigh AngellOctober 10, 2018 1913 0

Solar Batteries 101 

Solar batteries are used to store solar energy while reducing carbon footprint. Over time, the cost of these batteries has decreased. This has provided the industry with an opening to explore new avenues to improve on-site solar storage choices to residential consumers. However, many people still don’t know the full impact of solar batteries and how many different types there are, nor how exactly to use them. Keep reading to get the 101 on solar batteries.

There are four main types of solar batteries.

A solar battery functions similarly to a traditional battery, by storing excess energy to be used for later (like at night or during a blackout). There are four main types of batteries used to store solar electricity. All offer differing results and prices.

Lead acid: This is a heavy, reliable, inexpensive automotive battery. New technologies provide longer warranties, and it is well tested.

Lithium-ion: These batteries are the most heavily used. The prismatic types are commonly used in solar energy storage.

Flow: Flow batteries are the latest water-based solution of zinc-bromide battery in the residential solar arena. They provide the most long-term storage, lasting decades with minimal upkeep and the internal electrolyte materials can be recycled.

Charge Controller: Including this part depends on the size of your solar system. A maximum power point tracking (MPPT) circuit maximizes transferred energy and automatically disconnects the solar panel from the battery when fully charged.

Which battery is right for me?

The size and type needed to depend on your energy needs. A 12-volt, deep cycle battery can withstand repeated charge/recharge cycles without damage to internal plates or electrolytes. There are a few things to assess when determining which battery will fit your system's storage needs. Low prices are eye-catching yet it can easily affect the quality and battery life. Purchasing battery replacements too regularly may not suit you in the long run. It’s also a good idea to review the battery’s capacity or the amount of energy it can store. Voltage is also important to ensure it at least equals your system's requirements. This is evaluated by the inverter's specifications. A battery's cycle life is the most critical consideration. This accounts for the number of charges/recharges the unit can provide before production drops beneath a certain percentage of the full load capacity. This varies from manufacturer to manufacturer on the same size batteries.

What are the other parts I’ll need for my system?

Aside from the battery itself, here’s the other things you’ll need to start storing that energy:

Inverter: The inverter is cheap and transforms the electricity stored in the battery so it's usable in your home. Review the rating on the inverter and the number of electrical sockets it can power.

Photovoltaic panels: PV panels convert sunlight into energy with a semiconductor. When sunlight hits cells on the panel, a portion is absorbed by the semiconductor material. It releases electrons and allows them to flow, resulting in an electrical current. Standard panels translate sunlight into electricity with an efficiency of around 15 percent.

Solar panels require the battery, a charge controller, and an inverter. A 12-volt battery can take between five to eight hours to charge.

Which questions to ask when choosing your new battery.

These questions below can assist you in choosing the correct battery for your home:

What is your average daily electrical usage in kW Hours?

Do you have a backup system? If so, how efficient is it?

How dependable is the daily sunshine in your area?

How often do you use appliances with high power needs?

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