As you already know, a battery is an essential component to a fully-functional solar power system. It’s important that the energy generated from solar panels is stored in these batteries so that power is consistent when the sun is no longer shining. So what batteries for solar are suitable for your home or business?
Batteries for solar power systems in South Africa (or PV batteries) look very much like car batteries. Of course, depending on what you need, these come in various sizes. If more than one battery is required, multiple batteries for solar power can also be packed together in what’s called a battery bank. What many don’t realize is that batteries must be maintained in a similar fashion to a car battery. This article will show you how simple it is to do this. But first, let’s look at the two different types of batteries for solar available—and which one would suit your requirements.
Different kinds of solar power batteries for solar
- The first and most common solar power battery is the deep cycle flooded lead type acid battery. That’s a mouthful! But all it means is that the battery cell plates are fully submerged in electrolyte fluid (hence the term ‘flooded’). The batteries have been used for solar power systems since the early days when solar power was a new concept. Therefore, they have a good reputation of reliability and a long lifespan. Deep cycle LTA batteries are also among the most affordable.
- Deep cycle valve-regulated lead acid batteries are slightly more expensive. However, they come with a longer lifespan and less need for maintenance. The user does not need to continually change the water within the battery because it has been designed to renew its water continually. The battery works with a special kind of gel as opposed to the flooded design of the above mentioned one.
These are the two main types of batteries for solar power technology. There are various different sizes and types of batteries within these two categories. If you speak about one or the other, a decent solar power vendor will know what you are talking about. But which of these two categories is the best for your needs?
The right battery for your building
Either one of these battery types can be used for your home or office. However, VLRA batteries will last longer in an area where there is poor ventilation. Other factors to consider when making your decision include the following:
- Are you willing to maintain the battery every few months?
- Can you afford a slightly more expensive battery that will last longer?
- How much energy do you want your battery to store?
The price of your battery will determine the quality you ultimately derive from it. As mentioned, deep cycle valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries may cost more, but they will last longer and require less maintenance. However, if you are looking to power a large building, you may need to purchase multiple batteries—ones that are slightly cheaper. In this case, a battery bank system may be the answer.
Battery bank systems
A battery bank allows you to pack and connect multiple batteries in order to store large amounts of electricity. Together, these batteries effectually form one large battery. This is not usually necessary for a medium size house, but will be required when powering a large building such as an office block or factory.
If this is the route you are taking, then you will probably want to purchase batteries that are cheaper—therefore deep cycle LTA batteries. There may be more of a maintenance requirement with these, but the once off price will be a lot cheaper than deep cycle VLRA batteries.
How to care for a solar power battery
- Temperature: It’s preferable that batteries are kept in a storage room or compartment where they are protected from external elements. If your batteries get cold, their performance will be negatively affected. It’s also important to keep them free from dust.
- Basic maintenance: Your batteries should be fully charged every three weeks to maintain their efficiency and lifespan.
- Charging: There are some who say that a PV battery should be charged down every once in a while to extend lifespan. However, this can actually cause permanent damage to your battery, so always keep it fully charged if possible.
You now have a good overall view on PV batteries. All that remains is for you to purchase batteries that are the right size for your needs. Also be sure to select a trusted brand to avoid disappointment in quality and efficiency.
* YouTube video about choosing batteries