The lifespan of your battery bank will depend on a number of factors including temperature, cycling, depth of charge, and the type of battery that you are using. Lead acid batteries have the shortest life but are the least expensive, while lithium ion has a longer life but a much higher price tag.
A solar battery bank is an excellent way to store power for when you need it and linking up several batteries can help you save a lot of energy. Battery banks are popular with DIYers, preppers, and people who like to live off the grid.
By creating your own solar battery bank, you can ensure that you’ll have consistent power when you need it without having to be connected to the power grid. While many people don’t have an option to disconnect from their local power grid, others don’t have access to a power grid at all and have to use batteries for all of their power needs.
What Is A Solar Battery Bank?
A solar battery bank is several batteries linked together which are used to store power collected by nearby solar panels. By having several batteries at your disposal, you are able to save as much energy as the batteries can hold and you can use that power at any time that you choose.
Batteries can be used for backup power, or supplement your current locally sourced power at peak times when it's more expensive. Additionally, batteries are frequently considered to be the weakest part of the solar energy collection system, as they are prone to wearing out over time, require maintenance periodically, and are very heavy.
The weight of a battery can make it impractical to move around a lot, so battery banks are generally stationary unless they are quite small. Larger banks of batteries are capable of powering large buildings and high-power needs, but a single battery can still power a few appliances or a tiny home with minimal power needs.
Batteries used in a solar setup are frequently lead acid, but they can also be made from other materials such as lithium. The materials used to make these larger batteries frequently change as new technology becomes available and new materials are found to be more efficient or useful for this purpose.
How Long Will It Last?
How long your solar batteries will last will depend on a number of factors including:
Consider these factors for your current battery setup or a battery set up that you are planning to create if you want to determine the approximate life that you can expect. Batteries also change over time with new technological advancements and replacing your batteries in the future may help increase your storage efficiency.
Ultimately the lifespan of your battery may depend most on how you use it and how strenuously it is used on a regular basis. Routine use can vary based on the situation, but the average flooded battery can last between 300 and 700 cycles during its lifetime.
Batteries that are gel filled can last longer, between 500 and 5000 cycles depending on the unit. Lithium batteries, which have recently become very popular, typically have 2000 cycles during their useful lifespan.
Useful lifespan is how long the battery is able to hold a reasonable charge before it needs to be replaced. Batteries that have surpassed their useful lifespan are not desirable because they are inefficient and may not hold power well over time.
Charging and Discharging
Another critical factor when it comes to the lifespan of your batteries is how they are charged and discharged. Certain materials used in batteries will respond better to being charged at certain times and perform better to being charged before they are completely depleted.
Fully charging and discharging a battery can reduce its ability to store energy over time which can reduce the overall lifespan. Figuring out what material your batteries are made from will help you figure out the useful lifespan and when you should recharge the batteries for the best results.
Lithium batteries, for example, are predicted to last eight years, but your average car battery can only be completed depleted fewer than ten times before it will no longer properly charge. Many batteries will also cycle daily and need to be recharged frequently.
Deep cycle batteries are the best for your bank because they will allow you to charge and recharge them many times. Typically, you'll want to recharge a battery when it is 80% depleted in order to get the most extended lifespan possible.
You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t leave batteries depleted for long periods of time because this can also shorten their lifespan. Regular maintenance such as leveling all of the stored power levels in your bank can also help the batteries last longer.
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The ideal temperature for batteries is typically 55F, but any temperature between the range of 40F and 80F is suitable. If the batteries are kept in an environment that is too warm, they may have more capacity but can have trouble storing it.
Keeping your batteries in cooler temps will help them last longer, but they may need an insulated box if it's cold enough for them to freeze. Batteries that are charged won't freeze until it's around -30F, but a mostly depleted battery will freeze at 25F.
The temperature at which a battery will freeze depends on how much power the battery is storing which will change the acid content inside. Full batteries will have a stronger acid inside, and depleted ones will have a weaker acid due to the absence of power being stored.
In order to keep batteries from freezing, you can purchase insulating boxes that have the proper ventilation to keep them safe. Insulated boxes without ventilation can contain the gases put off by the batteries, and that can be dangerous over time.
If you are using batteries that contain acid instead of lithium, you’ll want to check the water levels every so often in hotter weather to ensure that there hasn’t been any evaporation, leakage, or other acid loss. You can top off any missing liquid with distilled water, but be careful not to overfill them.
Lithium batteries are much more tolerant of the temperatures they are stored in, but they are more sensitive about when they get charged. Also, Lithium batteries prefer to be charged before they are 20% empty, and you can extend their lifespan by not charging them much past 90% or so.
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There are several different kinds of batteries available, and the type that will work best for you will depend on your solar panel system and individual needs. Lithium Ion is the current favorite among what is available, but there are also lead acid and saltwater batteries that will work for many solar setups.
Lead acid batteries have been around for a while and have been well tested for use in multiple different situations. For solar setups, lead-acid batteries have a relatively short lifespan compared to other options, and also have a lower depth of discharge.
Lead acid batteries are also the least expensive of all of the available options, and it’s possible to create a rather large solar bank with a much smaller budget as a result. Lead acid batteries will hold enough power for an off-grid home if adequately cared for, but they will need to be replaced sooner than other options.
If you need to create a rather large power storage bank on a budget, Lead Acid is your best bet; however, their lifespan can be about five years under average conditions. If you choose to go this route be sure to consider the cost of replacing the batteries in the future.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most popular option for home energy setups, and there are many reasons why. The lithium-ion batteries are lighter than lead-acid batteries and also require less maintenance over time. They are able to hold a charge for longer and also have much longer lifespans of up to 8 years under average conditions.
The drawback with lithium-ion batteries is that they are considerably more expensive than their lead-acid counterparts. With the increased cost of lithium-ion batteries though, you get a great depth of charge and the potential for higher energy storage with fewer worries.
Saltwater batteries are relatively new in the scope of energy storage applications, but they are very promising as a new form of technology. Not only does saltwater have a lower cost than lithium ion, but they also have a greater depth of charge.
These two characteristics mean that they have a longer lifespan than lead acid, but shorter than lithium-ion batteries.The decreased cost of saltwater batteries can make them an attractive option for a solar bank as replacing them will be less costly, but offers a happy middle ground regarding the lifespan.
Having a greater depth of charge also means that you'll get more power out of them over their total useful life.Saltwater batteries also have the ability to be easily recycled, unlike lithium batteries which need to be recovered using a unique process. Saltwater batteries also don't use any heavy metals.