While the photovoltaic panels are the most visible component of your solar power system, the batteries may be the most important part. Without the batteries to store energy gathered from the sun during peak times, those who rely on solar would still be tied to the grid for power during non-sunny times. Batteries provide solar users with new options and are a critical part of the home solar system.
If you are considering the installation of a solar power system at your home, be sure to spend as much time researching batteries as you spend on the panels, inverters, or modules. There are many solar panel battery storage options commonly used in conjunction with solar power, so make sure you know the strengths and weaknesses of each. Read on to learn more about the types of batteries used with solar power hardware.
Lithium ion batteries are used to complement solar power because they are efficient and compact. They have a much longer life cycle than other more traditional types of batteries. Another benefit is that they have high discharge and recharge rates, meaning they can be used to power higher draw electrical components and will recharge quickly.
One of the earliest types of batteries used with solar arrays is the standard lead acid battery used in automobiles. They use grids of metallic lead that are immersed in an electrolyte, which in this case is sulfuric acid. Lead acid battery technology has improved over the last decade, and these batteries can now provide service for 3-5 years for a standard deep cycle battery or up to 12 years for batteries designed for use with solar power.
Nickel Cadmium (NiCad)
These batteries are constructed with nickel oxide in the positive and cadmium in the negative pole. They have been around for decades as rechargeable small appliance batteries but can be used with solar system. They have benefits such as non-freezing and low self-discharge, but they don’t offer better performance or life cycle than lead acid batteries that are much less expensive. They also are known to have low efficiency and can pose problems when used in conjunction with certain converters.
Nickel Iron (NiFe)
Another older technology, nickel iron batteries are quite common in small devices but can be adapted to work along with household solar systems. However, many have moved away from the use of NiFe batteries for solar purposes. There aren’t any strengths that distinguish these batteries from other types, and they can reduce the overall efficiency of your solar system by as much as 25%.
If you’re planning to install a solar system at your home, make sure you understand the solar panel battery storage options that are available. Research the strengths and weaknesses of each to decide which one will best fit your needs.