It’s easy to get lost in the sea of information regarding solar panel systems. So many people would like to make a change, whether it’s towards a partial system or a full off-the-grid transformation, but once they see all the different choices they digress back to what they know, namely grid power. Solar panel systems aren’t meant to be intimidating, which is why you should take it step by step. In this case we’ll be looking at the different types of batteries that are available to you. The articles that follow will take a deeper look into each battery, but first you need to understand your options. So let’s take those first steps and see what the basic solar power battery world is all about.
Battery Purpose and Categories
Batteries are used for storing energy collected by solar panels and they have to be able to accommodate a very unstable grid. They have to effectively deal with charging and discharging at irregular intervals while maintaining as much capacity as possible. General batteries are typically divided between two categories:
Each battery comes with its own set of benefits and it’s important to understand their qualities before making a final decision.
Lead Acid Batteries
Lead acid batteries have been around for years and thus far it has successfully helped solar power enthusiasts to effectively get off the grid. Typically referred to as deep-cycle batteries, they are made to handle regular discharges at high capacities, even when they aren’t fully charged. This type of usage puts a lot of strain on any battery with recharging capabilities, causing it to function with less efficiency. This is also why they cost more than your typical car battery.
You will find at least two different types of lead acid batteries, namely AGM and gel models. The reason why these specific types are mentioned is because they don’t require maintenance and they perform quite well. Unlike other lead acid models, these two create water from hydrogen and oxygen on the inside. There is no free acid within the battery as well, so it can be placed just about anywhere. In many cases the solar application is remote or just in an uncomfortable place, which is why you want to cut out the maintenance part as much as possible.
These batteries can be regarded as an upgrade to the lead acid models, but they do cost more though. Lithium-ion models are used everywhere you look. For example, cellphones, tablets, power tools and even solar power storage. In fact, it’s the battery of the modern world so-to-speak. It comes in three different types, namely pouches (smartphones), cylindrical (power tools) and prismatic (solar).
Compared to lead acid models, Lithium-ion batteries are solid and generally present well. In other words, they look more attractive and they can be mounted to the wall, much like the Tesla Powerwall battery. However, some manufacturers prefer to use the typical lead acid design, so not all of them will be suitable for the living room wall. But the real reasons why people invest in these alternatives is because they provide more cycles than lead acid models, they lose less capacity when they idle and they are solid, which means you don’t have to do any maintenance. They work well with solar systems that require constant discharging in addition to systems that only discharge occasionally. However, if they don’t fit your budget then lead acid models will also do the job just fine.
Some Final Thoughts
There’s another battery that’s emerging on the market called the Redox Flow battery, but it’s still in the developmental phase. It provides amazing efficiency, but at the moment the cost is just too expensive and it’s not readily available on the market. As for the two models mentioned above, we’ll continue to dig deeper into your options as the articles continue.