Solar energy is getting more popular by the day as more people are beginning to see the benefits that they offer. These benefits are both financial and environmental. If the majority of the US population turns to this renewable energy, there’ll be significant public health and environmental benefits. Check here to learn more about this.
One term that you’d likely hear when these systems are talked about is solar batteries. If you are curious about these batteries, then you are in the right place. Here, we’ll discuss what these batteries are, the various types available, and other interesting facts about them.
Solar Battery – What is it?
A solar battery typically is any battery that gets charged via solar energy. Generally, they have lead plates submerged in about 65% water and 35% sulfuric acid electrolyte solution.
Just like every other type of battery, they also have 2 terminals; each electrode (plate) has its terminal. They generate electricity when there’s a chemical reaction between the electrolyte and the electrode.
The reason they are used for solar systems is that they generate enough charge for recharging themselves after they get drained. Buildings and homes that can’t or don’t want to connect to the power grid use them to store energy for future use.
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Regular Vs Solar Batteries
Batteries used for solar systems are typically specially made to save energy and then release it when needed. The materials used in making them are different from those used for regular batteries. These materials are used to ensure that they can keep up with the slower discharge and charge rates of solar systems.
Regular battery stores limited energy in one cell, so quick charges are difficult with them. A solar battery on the other hand has 2 or even more cells that let them provide power over a relatively long period. Visit https://www.linkedin.com/ to learn more about the difference between solar and regular batteries.
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Solar Batteries – Types
Since we now have a better understanding of these batteries, let’s now look at the various types available in the market.
1. Lead Acid
Batteries under this category are made using lead acid. They are one of the most common types of power storage for solar systems. They typically have lead plates that are suspended in water and sulfuric acid solution (electrolyte).
The main advantage of these batteries is that they’re currently the cheapest option. The downside of them is that their lifespan when compared to others is quite short. A deep cycle high-quality lead-acid battery should typically last for a minimum of 3 years, while a shallow cycle one may have a very short lifespan of about 2 years.
They also require careful maintenance to ensure they work effectively and improve their longevity.
They can be used for both on-grid and off-grid systems. But they have to be used with a suitable charge controller when applied in an off-grid system. While they need a deep cycle regulator when they are used for on-grid systems. The regulator is used to ensure the battery doesn’t overcharge when the energy generated is at its peak.
These are commonly applied in electronics. During the early 2000s and late 90s, Nickel-Cadmium (commonly referred to as Ni-Cd) batteries were commonly used for solar systems. However, they soon phased out due to the environmental concerns people had about cadmium.
But recently, nickel cadmium batteries have gotten popular again because of the increase in the performance to price ratio. Apart from this, manufacturers have shifted their focus to developing better means of using cadmium gotten from older Ni-Cd batteries.
Their lifespan is also quite long as an average Ni-Cd battery should typically last for at least 10 years if it produces about 5 kWh of power daily. They are mainly applied for off-grid solar systems.
In recent years, batteries made with lithium-ion (commonly referred to as Li-Ion) have grown in popularity among solar system owners. Their popularity can be largely attributed to how efficient they are when compared to other options like nickel-based and lead-acid batteries. They are also lighter and work great even when the temperature is cold.
They don’t require water to run. This makes them ideal for situations where recharging isn’t an option like remote installations. The major downside they have is their cost as they are more expensive than other options.
They also discharge deep dischargers every cycle. This ability in itself makes it an attractive alternative for people who need a fair balance between performance and price. They have an average lifespan of 10 years. Read this article to learn how Li-Ion batteries work.
A flow battery is somewhat different from all the types of power storage discussed so far. The main difference it has from others is that it uses electrolyte fluids. Hence, it typically lasts longer than regular battery chemistries. Due to this, they are ideal for larger systems such as solar farms.
They generally have 2 tanks (electrolyte) that are held in a chamber (cathode and anode). For one tank to be charged, the other has to be discharged, this is what causes a “flow”.
While they are considered a potential and better alternative to Li-Ion batteries, they aren’t widely used for now. The reason for this is that they are quite expensive.
They have a relatively longer lifespan than all the options on this list. A typical flow battery should last for about 20 years if its daily production is about eight to ten percent. However, the battery’s lifespan is also tied to the type of flow battery you buy. Check https://knowledge.electrochem.org/ to find out more about this type of battery.
To ensure you get the worth of your money off your system and its battery, you need to do proper research and consider certain key things before making your decision. Regardless of the battery type you choose, always make sure you consider the number of years you’d like to keep the battery and see if its lifespan fits your plan.
Replacing a solar system battery (based on the type) can be costly. So, you must take your time and find out its lifespan. Also, some factors significantly influence the battery’s lifespan. Find out these factors and understand them before you make your choice.