On your road to implementing a solar power system to your home in sunny South Africa, you’ll come across many lithium solar battery options. It’s even a little overwhelming when you’re a newbie, because the options are so extensive. To make it a little easier, here is a basic guide to lithium batteries and what they are all about. We’ll look at what makes them different from lead-acid models, the benefits associated with them, and the price you can expect to pay.
The Technology Behind a Lithium Solar Battery
You may have noticed that a lithium solar battery isn’t anything new. They’ve been the primary source of power for things like cellphones, laptops and electric cars. But they are the next step when it comes to storing solar energy. Even though you can opt for less expensive flooded batteries, the lithium alternative has more benefits. Ultimately it will come down to the size of your budget, so let’s get technical and help you make an informed decision.
Lithium batteries are constructed in much the same way as conventional batteries, meaning they also have positive and negative plates (electrodes). These plates are also surrounded by electrolyte. But the difference between a traditional battery and a lithium battery is the chemicals that are used. For example, a lead-acid based model mainly uses lead for the plates and sulphuric acid as the electrolyte. A lithium battery will typically use graphite or carbon as the base compound for the plates, while lithium salt is the main compound of the electrolyte.
Now keep in mind there are at least 30 different chemical combinations for lithium batteries and uncovering them all will take some time, but each combination has a specific purpose. They also come in many different types of “packaging” so-to-speak.
Why Lithium Batteries Are Popular
The main reason why people invest in lithium batteries is because they are capable of storing energy more effectively and they produce more cycles. But here is a quick list of things that make them popular:
- They are maintenance free
- They are smaller, lighter and usually display better
- Can be placed just about anywhere and they don’t need to be in an upright position
- Produce more cycles ( 5000 – 7000)
- Can produce 100% of stored energy
- Discharging range in terms of temperature is extensive
- They don’t need to be discharged completely before charging again (no memory build-up)
- 80% discharge depth
- Can last between 10 and 20 years
- Efficiency regarding charging and discharging is more than 95%
- They can handle high charging rates
But we want to stay objective as possible, which means lithium batteries aren’t perfect. On the downside they are more expensive than conventional models and they shouldn’t be left to idle for very long periods, because they start to decay.
The Average Cost
Without beating around the bush, you can expect to pay anything from R50 000 to R800 000, depending on what you need it for. For an average home that wants to get off the grid, one battery valued between R55 000 and R70 000 should be enough.