All electrical systems need maintenance to perform optimally. Taking care of your solar batteries helps prolong their life. Solar energy storage maintenance also prevents any accidents or incidents.
There are various types of solar energy batteries, such as lead-acid, lithium-ion, and nickel-cadmium batteries. Each of these types has different characteristics. Understanding the type of battery is one step in the maintenance process. Let us look at other practices for solar battery maintenance.
General Solar Energy Storage Maintenance
Keeping your batteries unsafely is a recipe for disaster. It can leave you in the dark or cause accidents. One of the ways you can maintain your battery is by understanding its composition. We’ll look at that briefly.
Understanding Solar Batteries
Your battery has three different parts. These are electrolyte, electrode, and a separator. In a battery, there are at least two electrodes. One is a positive terminal and the other negative terminal. We refer to the first one as a cathode and the other one anode.
These terminal electrodes are placed inside an electrolyte. Its function is to allow current to flow between the positive and negative terminals. The work of the separator is to keep the cathode and the anode from direct interaction. As a result, the electrons go through a wire to complete the electrochemical reaction.
If you have a lead-acid battery, it has several lead plates or electrodes in a dilute sulfuric acid electrolyte. Due to the electrochemical reactions in the cells during discharge and charging, it can explode. For this reason, it is crucial to take care of your battery.
Solar Energy Storage Care and Maintenance
You maintain your battery to improve its performance as you give it a longer lifespan. Battery life has certain variables such as depth of discharge and storage temperature.
Additionally, sulfation causes most batteries’ issues. Sulfation is the process through which sulfur crystals form on lead plates preventing chemical reactions. It mostly happens when the lead-acid battery has a low electrolyte or charge. Sulfation poses many dangers. For this reason, monitoring and controlling the level of electrolyte and charge in flooded batteries is vital.
1. Checking Battery Fluid Level
You can only check this level if you are using flooded lead-acid batteries. To check the level, open the battery caps to see inside. If there are visible metal lead surfaces, you should add distilled water. In most cases, batteries will indicate a ‘fill-line’ to show the desired electrolyte level. Remember, you do not want your batteries to spill, so do not over-fill them.
2. Checking Charge Level
Another maintenance practice you need to know is how to check the depth of discharge state. You perform this task by looking at battery voltage against the specific gravity. There is a chart that helps you assess your battery’s state of charge. Failing to keep an eye on this factor can lead to sulfation. Once you measure these levels, you should keep a maintenance log for future reference.
One other crucial maintenance practice is cleaning your battery’s terminals. You should do it regularly, preferably once a month. First, remove the clamps before you start cleaning. Ideally, you can clean the terminals with baking soda and distilled water mixture using a cleaner’s brush.
After that, rinse the terminals with clean water. Also, you should seal the connections tightly while coating the metal with a commercial sealant. You can also use high-temperature grease.
As you clean the equipment, you need to be on the lookout for any electrolyte leak incidents. You address cracks in the batteries or corrosion to maintain your battery’s perfect condition. Remember, once corrosion starts, it may be hard to stop. A non-hardening sealant helps avoid this.
Did you know that batteries lose about 25% capacity at temperatures of about 30°F? Also, when temperatures rise, batteries deteriorate much faster. For this reason, it is crucial to protect your solar batteries from extreme temperatures. Look for a thermal-stable structure or an earth-sheltered option.
Additionally, when it gets cold, you need to increase the battery’s charge voltage limit to attain full charge. If the batteries become hot, you need to reduce the charge to avoid overcharging. You can look for charge controllers with a temperature compensation feature.
Owning a solar energy storage system also requires knowledge about charging your battery. The charging levels are:
- Float charging: It is also referred to as trickle charging. This happens when the battery is charging at the same level, it is discharging. It mostly keeps the battery charged fully.
- Bulk charging: Mostly occurs when you want to charge a battery that has fully discharged. Voltage is at the highest acceptable level in this case.
- Absorption charging phase: Under this option, the voltage is constant at a maximum level. The current also starts decreasing until the battery charges fully.
Weather conditions can prevent a battery from fully charging when using solar panels. Remember, bringing your batteries to a state of full charge at least every three weeks is highly recommended. Doing this reduces internal degradation and corrosion. Weaker cells can fall behind; fully charging your battery helps in equalization.
Batteries can be dangerous when mishandled. When near your batteries for these maintenance practices, you need to be careful. You can do this by wearing protective eyewear, gloves and removing all metallic items. In case of an acid leak, it is advisable to have water and baking soda near you.
FLA (Flooded Lead-Acid) and Valve Regulated Lead-Acid (VLRA) Batteries
VLRA batteries made from gel and AGM require little maintenance than FLA batteries. The gel and AGM batteries do not require refilling like the case with FLA. It is also impossible to measure the state of discharge in such power storage gadgets. However, they still need the voltage to remain at a precise level for a longer lifespan.
Solar energy batteries are the heart of your energy supply if you have no grid connection. Therefore, occasionally giving it your attention becomes essential. The more you understand how the batteries work and general practices maintenance practices, the better and longer it will serve you.
If you want to go solar and gain independence from the utility company, energy storage system is a good option. Dynamic installs solar panels systems with reliable backup. Solar energy storage maintenance practices determine the lifespan of the system. Get in touch with us today and transit to a reliable energy source.