Tips for Choosing the Right Battery for Your Solar Project
Residential and commercial solar power systems are often paired with batteries, devices that serve as storage spaces for power. This is where the setup will get electricity at nighttime or on days when there isn't much sun because of rain or snow. Aside from giving users access to renewable energy, no matter the time and weather, this component helps them in cutting down on utility bills.
If you've been thinking of adding solar energy storage to your system, here's a guide that'll help you in choosing the right one.
A solar battery doesn't come in one type or form. Rather, it's available in various types, with each designed to meet a particular need. But, before you learn more about the different kinds of storage spaces out there, here's a quick rundown of terms you'll encounter along the way.
- Capacity and power ratings: Capacity tells you how much energy you can keep. So, the higher it is, the more power you'll get to save for a rainy day. Meanwhile, the latter indicates the maximum electricity it can deliver at a given time.
- Depth of discharge (DoD): Because of a battery's chemical composition, it has to maintain a certain charge at all times so that it won't malfunction or break sooner than intended. DoD displays how much of the device's capacity has already been consumed, telling you when it's time to recharge.
- Round-trip efficiency: Saving electricity into the system also takes up some energy, so the total amount you can use won't always match up with the unit's capacity rate. This ratio of stored and usable power is called the round-trip efficiency. The higher this figure is, the better the battery is at managing its collected sunlight.
- Battery life: Solar power storage typically comes with an indicated number of "cycles." This refers to the number of times it can charge and drain without compromising performance. It works like a cellphone battery. The more cycles it goes through in a short time, the less efficient it becomes. Eventually, you'll notice that the device doesn't hold and release as much power as it used to.
Now that you've read all of those, it's time to move on to the kinds of solar batteries you'll find.
- Lead-Acid: For decades, this option has been considered a favorite for off-grid systems. Lead-acid batteries are cost-efficient and highly recommended for home energy use. They have a low DoD and a short lifespan of 3 to 5 years, but later models with improved specifications are now available. These are made with more nanocarbon, which allows the unit to work for a much longer time. Unlike other types, this one doesn't really require maintenance. But, a flooded variant has to be refilled and checked by an expert regularly.
- Lithium-Ion: Recent storage technologies rely heavily on lithium-ion, which is lighter and more compact than its alternatives. It also has a high DoD and long lifespan, which means that it can work well despite undergoing hundreds of cycles in 10 years. Plus, it doesn't require much maintenance. One snag, though, is that it comes with a pretty hefty price tag.
- Nickel-Cadmium: Though it's been around for some time and isn't as advanced or sophisticated as other types, nickel-cadmium is still considered a reliable and long-lasting battery. It's also affordable, can tolerate extreme temperatures, and doesn't need a complex management system, making it perfect for rugged applications. But, it has to be maintained to keep it in good condition and ensure that none of its substances, especially cadmium, leaks out.
- Saltwater: This hasn't been widely studied or released just yet, but it's still worth taking note of. Saltwater batteries rely on their electrolyte content, rather than heavy metals, to hold power. This makes them less toxic and more recyclable than their traditional counterparts. Based on recent studies, this type has roughly the same capacity and DoD rating as a lead-acid's.
Contact The PowerStore Inc. now for more details on solar storage products that you can use for your project. They'll even help you out with planning, designing, and installing renewable energy systems.