Solar batteries store excess electricity produced by the solar energy generation system, which can be used on cloudy days and nights. It also gives you more options to power your home. Without battery storage, the excess electricity the system produces will go into the main grid.
Once you choose suitable batteries for your solar panels, ensure they’re properly maintained for optimal performance and lifespan.
People often choose lead-acid batteries if they need low-cost but long-lasting storage. However, there are other options as well, such as lithium batteries.
As a battery gets older, its performance and capacity gradually decrease.
If not taken care of, batteries can go bad prematurely, disrupting your day-to-day activities. This guide will discuss what can go wrong with your batteries and how to deal with the common issues.
Lithium batteries have become a preferable option in most solar applications because of their high power density and low maintenance cost. However, it may not be the best fit for areas that get extreme weather or long storage durations.
Lithium-ion batteries are likely to degrade quickly following a particular number of charges and discharges. The most commonly used types of lithium-ion batteries are lithium nickel manganese cobalt dioxide (NMC) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP).
Lead-acid batteries are not only inexpensive but also long-lasting. They have a grid-like structure submerged in an acidic electrolyte that needs a regular replacement to last long. The materials used in the batteries make them heavy.
Since they’re low-maintenance devices, you can use them in various solar panel applications. However, they must be stored in dry areas with moderate temperatures.
Lead-Acid Batteries Maintenance
To check if they have loosened over time, be sure to inspect the terminal connections in lead-acid batteries a few times every year. If your store the batteries due to lack of use, they should be fully charged and have an appropriate electrolyte level.
As lead-acid batteries are prone to self-discharge, you need to recharge them to minimum levels even when they’re disconnected from the load.
Most importantly, check the water level of your batteries every 15 days as they will evaporate during the charge cycle. You can refill the battery using distilled water only. That’s because minerals and particles in other water will affect the mechanism of your battery. When refilling, you must not exceed the max level line.
Using a refractometer can help you determine how charged your batteries are. So if they fail to hold a charge even after a complete charge cycle, they’re likely to be old and damaged. As battery capacity lowers with age, it requires replacement within the time recommended by the manufacturer.
Charging the Batteries
Charging a solar panel battery includes three phases – bulk, float, and absorption. Bulk charging occurs when you charge a discharged battery, so the voltage rises towards the maximum acceptable level.
Float charging will charge the battery at the same rate it discharges. This will always keep the batteries fully charged. When it comes to absorption charging, the voltage is maintained at a constant maximum level while the current decreases until the battery are charged.
To install an adjustable-charge controller, make sure to set your bulk, float, and absorption charging voltages. They must be similar to those recommended by the battery manufacturer.
Cleaning and Replacing the Batteries
You need to clean the battery terminals regularly using a mixture of baking soda and distilled water. Remove the gunk with a terminal cleaner brush and use water to rinse the terminals. Be certain that all the connections are tight. You can coat the metal components with a high-temperature grease or a commercial sealant.
When replacing your batteries, avoid mixing old and new ones to ensure optimal performance and lifespan.
Programming the Solar Battery System
As soon as your battery backup system is installed, consider programming the voltage set points and the charging voltage applied during the battery cycle. Your installer will adjust these as it is essential for the lifespan and maintenance of your solar panels. If the batteries are charging improperly, they’re likely to wear out prematurely.
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