Want to take your solar energy to the next level? Solar batteries are the way to go. Batteries store energy availing it for use at night or when it’s cloudy when electricity production reduces. When a house has solar panels without a solar battery, the only options are exporting the power to the grid or using the produced electricity. For most homes, energy is consumed early in the morning and later during the day. Using solar batteries helps them use power during those peak hours.
According to history, the invention of the solar cell occurred in 1953. Since then, this technology has evolved, and it is now more efficient and has gained acceptance all over the world. In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about solar batteries. Let’s get started.
All You need to know about Solar Batteries
Types of Solar Batteries
Do you live in or work in an area not connected to the grid? Solar batteries are incredibly beneficial in this situation. They help to store the excess energy produced during the day to last you through the night. Solar batteries come in various types, each with distinctive requirements. Choosing the best depends on cost, lifespan, installation, and other factors we will look at later on. Common types include:
1. Lithium Ion Batteries
For those seeking the most widely used battery, this is it. Most devices, such as smartphones and tablets, rely on this technology. Electric cars and some powers also rely on this technology. When compared to other forms, lithium batteries are more compact and lighter. They are also known to have a longer lifespan though they are a bit more expensive than lead batteries.
2. Lead Acid Batteries
For several decades, renewable energy sources have been utilizing these batteries. These are the least expensive, making them a perfect choice for homes that require a massive energy storage system. However, the batteries have a lower DoD (depth of discharge) when compared to other types. Their shorter lifespan can also make them undesirable.
3. Saltwater Batteries
As you know, technology evolves to give us better and more efficient products over time. The solar batteries industry is not left behind in this pursuit. Saltwater batteries are a new technology taking over this field. Unlike lead and lithium, it does not contain heavy metal. Instead, it uses saltwater electrolytes.
As you know, lithium and lead require unique disposal methods. However, you can recycle a saltwater battery. The drawback for this is the technology is still new, therefore, mostly untested.
What to Look for When Getting Solar Batteries
In itself, this topic can be a bit complicated. The product specifications do not make the matter easy as they come in a technical language. Usually, it all boils down to five factors. They include:
i. The Manufacturer
The brand is the first thing with which you will interact. Due to the growth of the solar industry, many companies and organizations have entered the field. The brands range from tech startups to established automotive companies. Some established manufactures may fail to offer game-changing technology though they may be back by years of experience. However, some startups may have the best technology but lack a proven and tested functionality history.
ii. Depth of Discharge (DoD)
Due to their chemical composition, many solar batteries must retain some charge at all times. Using 100% battery charge shortens its usefulness. That said, depth of discharge or DoD is the amount of battery capacity used. For effective performance, the manufacturer specifies a maximum DoD. For example, you should not use more than 9 kWh for a battery of 10 kWh with a 90% DoD without recharging.
The higher the DoD, the more you will be able to use.
iv. Power & Capacity
One of the most critical factors to look at is capacity. It shows the total amount of electricity that the solar battery can store, and it’s measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). You can include multiple batteries for extra storage of energy as they are stackable.
You should combine the capacity factor with the power rating. Power rating will show you the amount of electricity your battery will be producing at a given time, and it is measured in kilowatt. So, as a rule, you want a backup system with a high capacity and power rating to effectively run your home appliances.
v. Round Trip Efficiency
Ideally, you want a battery with a high round trip efficiency as it provides a more excellent economic value. To explain, a round trip for a battery refers to the percentage amount of energy you can use compared to energy stored. For example, holding 10 kWh of electricity but only using 8 kWh gives you an 80% round trip efficiency.
vi. Warranty & the Battery Life
For your solar power system to work effectively and give you a more extended service, warranties are an essential part of the package. The solar battery warranty falls under equipment warranties. A guarantee that you receive from the manufacturer for the various life cycles of the product. This assurance states the battery will have a certain capacity over the course of its lifespan. The battery’s ability to hold and retain charge gradually changes over time, and the more you use it.
How Long Do Solar Batteries Last?
For you to determine how long solar batteries will last, you need to look at certain variables. They include the amount of energy consumed in your household daily if you have a connection to the grid and the batteries’ power and capacity rating.
According to US Energy Information Administration, an average household uses about 30 kilowatt-hours. Since a typical battery produces about 10 kWh of capacity, you may need about three batteries to power your home.
However, in reality, this may not be the case as most batteries do not operate at a full capacity. Remember, the 90% DoD as explained previously? Without another energy source, you may need to add a few more batteries to have power throughout the night. The number of hours the solar panel will generate electricity can also affect the amount of energy stored.
Also, cloudy days can occur, which leads to reduced electricity production. It is essential for homeowners who want to disconnect from the power grid to install several days’ worth of power to cover those days.
The battery has a lifespan of 5- 15 years. After the installation, they may require to be changed at least once to match the lifespan of the solar panels. As there has been an increase in solar panels’ lifespan over several years, the same is expected of solar batteries.
With proper maintenance, you can have a positive effect on the lifespan of the battery. Remember, the temperature can impact the batteries. So, you should protect it from freezing or high temperatures.
What are the Benefits of Solar Batteries?
The main benefit that solar batteries offer is giving you energy security. With a power storage system, you have energy at all times. For example, if you are connected to the grid, and there are power outages, the stored energy powers your home. Similarly, solar batteries are useful in areas without access to the grid, preventing any wastage of the solar panels’ excess electricity.
Almost everyone loves an opportunity to save money on utility bills. Having the batteries helps you reduce the amount of time your home consumes electricity from the utility company. In the end, this saves on the energy bill. You can use the excess energy produced during the day to power your home during peak hours, preventing an increase in the utility bills.
Another benefit is it gets rid of noise and air pollution. During a power outage, you still want to power your home to keep it running effectively. One way to do this is the use of generators. Unfortunately, this method is noisy and pollutes the environment. Solar energy is clean energy, and its production and storage are quiet and friendly to the environment. By extension, solar batteries are also noise-free and do not have harmful gasses that affect the environment.
Solar panels and solar batteries go hand in hand. The batteries complement the solar energy system and broaden its use. With this, you can harvest electricity and store it to use it at night or during peak hours.
If you choose to go off the grid, the solar batteries can provide you with enough charge to power your home. All you need to do is invest in a more robust energy storage capacity. For this, you can choose to use lithium or lead based batteries. For each, there are advantages and disadvantages that you need to look at.
Finally, as you purchase your battery, be keen on DoD, capacity, power ratings, and efficiency; you should review the warranty most importantly.