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Solar Battery Evaluation

Jessica PirroNovember 13, 20193670

When it comes to evaluating solar power batteries and all of the options that are on the solar energy market today, such as, how long the solar power batteries are going to last, or how much solar power it can provide.

Compare Your Solar-Powered System Storage Options

When you begin to look at all of the different storage options for solar energy that are on the solar power market today, you are going to come across a lot of complicated product specifications that the solar companies have. The most important ones that you are going to use during your evaluation are the battery’s capacity & power ratings, depths of discharge (DoD), round trip efficiency of solar energy, warranty, and manufacturer,

Capacity & Power

A solar power battery capacity is the total amount of solar electricity that a solar battery can store, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Most of the home solar power batteries are going to be designed to be in a sort “stackable”, which is also going to mean that you can include multiple solar energy batteries with your solar-plus-storage system to get extra capacity.

While the capacity is going to tell you how big your solar power battery is, it isn’t going to tell you how much solar electricity that a solar power battery can provide at any given moment. To fully understand the full picture, you will also need to consider the battery’s solar power rating. In the context of solar energy batteries, a power rating is going to be the amount of solar electricity that a battery can deliver at one time. It is measured in kilowatts (kW).

A solar power battery that has a high capacity and a low power rating that is going to deliver a low amount of solar electricity, for quite some time. A solar energy battery with a low capacity and a high power-rating could run your entire home, but only for a few hours.

Depth of Discharge (DoD)

Most of the solar power batteries need to retain some charge at all times dues to their chemical composition. If you use 100 percent of a battery’s charge, its life will be significantly shortened.

The depth of discharge (DoD) of a solar power battery refers to the amount of a battery’s capacity that has been used. Most of the solar companies that manufacturer solar power batteries, are going to have a specific maximum DoD for optimal performance. An example, if a 10 kWh solar-powered system battery has a DOD of 90 percent, you shouldn’t use more than 9 kWh of the battery before you recharge it. A higher DoD means that you are going to be able to utilize more of your solar power battery’s capacity.

Round-Trip Efficiency of Solar Energy

The round-trip efficiency of solar energy in regards to solar power batteries is a representation of the amount of solar energy that it took to store it. An example, if you are feeding five kWh of solar electricity back into your solar power battery and can only get four kWh of useful solar electricity back, the battery has 80 percent round-trip efficiency of solar energy (4 kWh / 5 kWh = 80%). In general, a higher round-trip efficiency of solar energy means that economically you are going to get more out of your solar energy battery.

Solar Battery Lifespan

The general range for solar power battery’s useful lifespan is between 5 and 15 years. If you get a solar power battery installation today, you are going to quite possibly need to replace it at least once to match the 25 to 30-year lifespan of your solar-powered system. But, like the lifespan of solar panels has significantly increased in the past decade, solar energy batteries are expected to follow suit as solar power batteries grow in popularity.

By maintaining your solar energy batteries properly, it will have a significant effect on your solar power battery’s lifespan. Solar power batteries are vastly impacted by temperature, so protecting your battery from freezing and torrid temperatures can also increase its lifespan. When a solar power battery drops below 30°F, it’s going to require more voltage for the solar power battery to reach its maximum charge; when the same battery rises above 90°F, it is going to overheat and is going to require a reduction in charge. To solve this issue, many leading solar power battery manufacturers are going to provide temperature moderation as a feature. But, if the battery that you end up purchasing doesn’t provide the feature, you will need to consider other features like earth-sheltered enclosures. Quality maintenance efforts can also impact how long your solar energy battery is going to last.

Manufacturer

There are a lot of different solar companies that are developing and manufacturing solar power battery products, from automotive companies to tech startups. A major automotive company that is entering the solar energy storage market is likely to have a long history of solar energy product manufacturing, which might not be the most revolutionary technology. By contrast, a tech start-up might have a brand-new high-performing technology, but, less of a track record to prove the battery’s long-term functionality.

Regardless if you choose a battery that is manufactured by a cutting-edge start-up or solar company with a long history will depend on your priorities. Evaluating the warranties that are provided by the solar companies for each product can give you additional guidance as you make your decision.

The Best Batteries for a Solar-Powered System

The solar energy batteries that are used in home solar energy storage are typically going to be made with one of three chemical compositions: lead-acid, lithium-ion and saltwater. In most cases, lithium-ion batteries are the best option for a solar-powered system, though other solar power battery types can be affordable.

Lead-Acid

Lead-acid batteries are going to be a tested technology that has been used for off-grid solar energy systems for years. While they have a relatively short life and lower DoD than other battery types, they are also one of the least expensive options currently on the market in the home solar energy storage sector. For homeowners who are looking to go off the grid and need to install a lot of storage for solar electricity, lead-acid can be a good option.

Lithium-Ion

Most of the new home energy storage technologies, such as the use of some form of lithium-ion chemical composition. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter and more compact than lead-acid batteries. But, lithium-ion solar power batteries are going to be more costly than the lead-acid batteries.

Saltwater

The newest solar energy battery on the market is the saltwater battery. Different than other home energy options, saltwater batteries don’t have heavy metals, instead, they rely on saltwater electrolytes. While batteries that use heavy metals, including the lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries, need to be disposed of with special processes, a saltwater battery can be easily recycled. But, as a new technology, saltwater batteries are going to be relatively untested, and the one company that makes these kinds of solar power batteries for home use filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

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