Lead Acid vs Lithium Battery for Solar System: A Comparison
While the focus in discussions about solar power technology usually centers on panels and converters, the batteries are no less important when it comes to the viability of your solar power system. Walk into any solar store, and you’ll see a wide array of battery choices, which can make it difficult to determine which one will best meet your solar power needs, lifestyle, and usage. Though battery technology is advancing at an increasing rate, there are two primary types of batteries in use for solar power systems currently. Those two types are traditional lead acid batteries, in their various forms, and lithium batteries.
While lead acid technology is tried-and-true, lithium can offer some significant advantages over the more traditional lead acid battery. However, some solar users still feel more comfortable with the steady, reliable performance of lead acid batteries. If you’re planning to find a source for wholesale solar batteries, make sure you understand the characteristics of lead acid and lithium batteries and determine which type will best support your power requirements. Read on to learn more about lead acid and lithium batteries and how they compare.
What Are Lead Acid Batteries?
Lead acid batteries represent the earliest and most common type of rechargeable battery. They use lead plates immersed in sulfuric acid to store energy and can be depleted and recharged thousands of times without fail. Some lead acid batteries, known as gel batteries, feature improved performance thanks to the addition of silica to the electrolyte, which converts it into a putty-like gel.
What Are Lithium Batteries?
Lithium batteries haven’t been around as long as their lead acid counterparts, but they are quickly overtaking them due to enhanced performance on many fronts. In a lithium battery, lithium ions move from one electrode to another through an electrolyte during discharge, then move back when the battery is recharged.
Size and Weight
Upon this point of comparison, the lithium ion battery has a clear advantage, as lithium batteries weigh significantly less than their lead acid counterparts. Lead is one of the heaviest metals used in modern applications, and when combined with liquid acid, it can create a hefty battery.
Lead acid batteries also must be large enough to facilitate the proper surface area for power storage. Lithium batteries are much lighter because their component elements are lighter, and less volume of electrolyte is necessary to achieve the desired goal.
Again, when it comes to battery resilience or its ability to tolerate adverse conditions, lithium again has an advantage over lead acid batteries. All kinds of batteries can be damaged by extreme temperatures, excessive discharge or recharge, and speed of discharge.
However, lead acid batteries are more vulnerable to this type of damage than lithium batteries. This disparity stems from the materials used in the battery plates or electrodes. Lithium is a superior, more resilient material when compared to lead, hence the improved damage resistance.
Lead acid batteries can provide years of reliable service, but lithium batteries have longer lifespans on average. Once again, the reason is the superiority of lithium as a plate or electrode material when compared to lead. Therefore, lithium batteries can cycle significantly more times than lead without becoming damaged. That improved lifespan can offset some of the higher initial cost for lithium batteries, as the longer lifespan means fewer battery replacements.
Lead acid batteries have an advantage when it comes to initial cost, as lithium battery technology is still new enough to command a premium price point. That means you can make up some of the gap in performance and lifespan between lead acid and lithium batteries by purchasing more lead acid cells for the same cost as a comparable lithium battery.
However, there are other factors to consider when it comes to battery value. The longer lifespan of lithium batteries balances the cost scale, because though the cost is higher, they will last longer than lead acid batteries.
If you’re in the market for batteries to use with your solar power system, weigh the pros and cons of lead acid and lithium batteries before making a purchase. To learn more about how lead acid and lithium batteries compare when used for solar power, contact The Power Store at (888) 595-0580.