Do you have the Right Batteries for your Solar System?
Whether you have solar on your house, your camper or your off-grid setup, having the right battery system and storage setup to power your essential services is critical.
Battery storage, when done right can be a very good investment for your home, business or lifestyle.
However, when done wrong, having the wrong batteries can be a very costly lesson to learn if you don’t get it right from the start.
What you need to know about selecting Solar energy storage:
- Storage batteries come in many different types and chemistries, even the same type
Eg lithium come in differing types that have significantly differing performance, lifetime and storage capacity.
- Some of the best marketed batteries are often worst performers, if you are investing or have invested in battery storage you need to choose carefully
So choosing the right type of battery for your particular needs can be a bit of a hit and miss affair, finding a battery to suit your needs can be challenging even for an expert.
Most Common Battery Types
The standard type of batteries on the domestic market are
- Lead acid -weather they are gel, sealed, wet
- Lithium- there are many differing types
Less Known Battery Types
- Flow batteries- such as Zcell uses different technology than chemical reaction and fairly advance technology
- Salt water- expensive but very safe and long life
- Ultra battery- hybrid battery with capacitor inbuilt
All with pros and cons
Some manufacturers promote their batteries asd having, for example 10kWh (10kW for 1 hour or 1kW for 10hrs), but all batteries have what is called Depth of discharge (DoD). This is the amount of usable energy you have available.
The majority of batteries cannot have 100% of the energy drawn out of the battery eg: if a 10kW battery has 10kWh with 80% DoD, then only 8kWh is usable energy.
Lead acid typically have 30-50%DoD, Lithium typically 80% and above and flow batteries 100% is available.
Most common ways to purchase a battery system
- Off the shelf system- these systems typically are “all in one” systems that require little customisation.
- Semi customised system- Designer selects various parts to add to your off the shelf system
- Fully customised system- designer and installer makes the system from individual cells or modules on site to connect to an inverter.
Things that affect your Batteries Life and Performance are
- Poor connection- dirty terminals and loose connections.
- Wrong sized connecting cables- this causes several as well as uneven draw from battery bank
- How they are charged- some inverter/chargers may not be set up correctly for your batteries, severely affecting the performance and lifetime of your investment
- How you use them- # of cycles as your battery has a limited # of cyles in its lifetime, not using battery properly uses up these cycles needlessly
- Under or overcharging
- Drawing too much from your battery and not leaving enough in reserve
- high current loads- drawing too much too quickly
- Environment- where and how you store them may not suit your battery
- Effects of temperature- temperatures above 40Deg C will affect your battery, some lithium types will derate ( restrict current) as temperature rises
- Time- even just sitting there most batteries will loose performance and lifetime
Maintenance of Your Battery System
Periodic maintenance of your battery system is very important to get the most out of it and ensure it is working properly, like most things, if you catch them early it will be relatively cheap and easy to fix (depending on the nature of the problem)
End of Life
When buying your batteries find out if they contain recycled content & are safe to recycle
Learn about your system and risk with decommissioning so you know what to do and what not to.
Plan for safe and responsible management at the design and installation stage
Find an accredited installer to assist in removing them
Ensure an accredited recycler is used.
With careful planning, in depth knowledge and correct design most issues can be eliminated or controlled to minimise the effects and ensure you get the most you can from your energy storage investment.
If you have a system that does not seem to be delivering what you were promised, all is not lost. A lot can be done to improve your outcomes.
Solar Doctor Saver are experts when it comes to maintaining, choosing & problem solving your batteries.