How Do Solar Batteries Work?
Solar Batteries

How Do Solar Batteries Work?

Solar Batteries are fast becoming a key component in any modern solar power system.

As the world shifts towards renewable sources of energy, solar power systems are becoming increasingly popular. This is especially true in countries with an abundance of sunlight such as Australia. 

A solar power system helps transform the energy generated by the sun into the electricity that powers your household devices. A good system will reduce your reliance on the national electricity grid and help you save money on electricity bills by harnessing the power of the sun.

A solar battery helps you store that power and use it at a later date.

A common household solar power system consists of three key elements: 

  • Panels
  • Inverters
  • Batteries

The Panels 

The most recognizable of the three, panels are the photovoltaic rectangles you see sitting on peoples rooftops. These absorb the solar power that radiates from the sun before discharging it as (DC) direct current.

The Inverter

 An inverter takes the direct current provided by the solar panels and transforms it into (AC) alternating current. This is the type of electrical current that powers all your household appliances. In some cases, an inverter also comes with a solar battery built in.

The Battery

When your solar power system generates more electricity than your household uses this creates a surplus of energy. A solar storage battery can store and reuse any excess energy that your solar panels have absorbed.

In a none-battery system, any excess energy would be fed back into the grid. However, with a battery, the excess can be stored in your house for use at a later time.

An out-of-the-way spot, such as a utility room garage is probably the best location for a solar battery. They are often the most expensive component of a solar panel system, and also the least durable ones. A poor functioning battery will reduce the overall solar system performance. 

Solar storage batteries must be rechargeable so that they can repeatedly charge and discharge throughout the day.

Solar Batteries
Solar Power Battery Installation

Deep Cycle vs Shallow Cycle Solar Batteries

A shallow-cycle battery, such as a car starting battery, provides high current over a short time. These batteries might discharge 10 or 20 percent of their energy in one cycle.  This is unsuitable for solar storage systems as the battery will discharge for much longer periods of time.

This is why solar batteries are deep cycle batteries. A deep cycle battery can regularly discharge up to 50% of its energy without becoming damaged. This is much more appropriate for use in a solar power system where a battery will often work for hours. 

Taking a shallow cycle battery deep into its energy reserves would quickly damage the battery. It is extremely taxing on any kind of battery to discharge deeper than 50%. Ideally, the discharge should stop at less than 50%. Therefore, deep cycle batteries need to be well maintained, and charge controlled. Taking care of the battery is fundamental as it can have a big impact on their lifespan. With regular maintenance, a solar storage battery should last anywhere between 5 and 10 years.

Solar Batteries

Charge Controller

Charge controllers prevent solar batteries from overcharging and over-discharging.

Regular overcharging reduces the battery lifespan since it causes loss of electrolyte and damaged plates. This is the same reason you are advised to unplug your phone once it has reached 100% charge.

Most state of the art solar power systems now come complete with charge controllers.

Types of Solar Batteries

A poorly operating battery can not only reduce the performance of your solar system but can also damage your household devices and appliances.

The most popular solar storage batteries are lithium-ion and nickel-cadmium. Lithium-Ion batteries are gaining popularity because of their many advantages. They are lightweight; compact; have a 70-80% maximum depth of discharge; a lifespan twice the length of the alternative battery types, and they are often maintenance-free.

Factors to Consider When Buying Solar Batteries:

Price – Spending more initially will help reduce replacement and repair costs in the long run

Capacity – If you do not generate a lot of electricity through your system than a high capacity battery is not necessary, and vice versa.

Lifespan – When looked after a battery will last 5-10 years depending on the quality of the product.

Maintenance – Maintenance-free batteries are more expensive than their alternatives.

Replacement – Choose a battery that can easily be replaced if necessary.

Are you thinking about installing a solar power system? Have you had issues with solar batteries or panels? Please leave your comments below.

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