How Do Solar Batteries Work?

If you’re interested in solar energy and becoming energy independent, an important question you may have is “How do solar batteries work?”.

Batteries are an important component in an off-grid or on-grid system where the homeowner wants to make sure they have power even during a blackout.

We’ll look at how batteries work and the various options available.

Why Would I Need solar Batteries

Excellent question. Well, if you’ve got a cabin or you just live somewhere a long way from the nearest electrical grid, and you’re planning on getting free electricity from the sun to provide power for your cabin or home, then you’ll definitely need one or several of these, depending on the size of the solar energy system you have and the amount of power you need to produce.

Also, if you live on-grid and you’re taking advantage of net-metering, you may also want to make sure you have power when the grid fails. If so, you’ll need a backup energy supply, which is where batteries come in. Batteries will store energy from your solar panels for later use, such as when blackouts occur.

Which Type Of Battery Is Best?

Another great question, because there are several options available. They fall into 2 categories, lead-acid and alkaline.

Lead-acid batteries are the ones most commonly used in residential PV systems in the U.S. They are similar to car batteries, except that car batteries are designed to discharge a large amount of power at once to start the car, and then be recharged. Solar lead-acid batteries, on the other hand, are what’s known as deep cycle, meaning they can be discharged safely up to about 80% and provide small amounts of power over longer periods. A car battery wouldn’t last long in a photovoltaic system, whereas a deep-cycle battery can last for up to 10 years, if maintained carefully. They are fairly inexpensive and come in variety of sizes and with various options.

An important point to note is that, if the battery isn’t sealed, the water level must occasionally be topped up so it’s important to keep an eye on that.

Alkaline batteries are similar to lead-acid in that they’re made of plates set in electrolyte, except that the plates in these batteries are made from nickel primarily. They are much more expensive than lead-acid batteries and are usually applicable more to industrial and commercial applications in colder climates.

Avoid Discharging Or Overcharging

Discharging and overcharging lead-acid batteries can seriously reduce their useful life. Therefore, what’s known as a charge controller is needed to regulate the voltage coming in and going out. Overcharging causes electrolyte to be lost, which, in turn, reduces battery life, as does regularly discharging the battery. A charge controller helps prevent these things happening and, therefore, prolongs the life of a battery.

Lead-acid batteries are the most common for residential solar and, if treated well, should last for up to 10 years, and maybe more. Hopefully, the question “How do solar batteries work?” has been answered and you’ll know how to treat them so they last for some time.

Be nice to your batteries and they’ll be nice to you.

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