The majority of solar based products, from large scale generators to small pathway garden lights, all operate on the same general concept. A solar panel captures the suns rays and converts the energy to power that can be stored in an internal battery source at a specific voltage. Your average battery voltage it typically 12 Volts but can vary based on your application. That stored power is then used to power ones application, such as an LED flood light or larger 110V/220V applications through the use of an inverter. The batteries used in such applications vary regarding proper maintenance, lifespan and weight. The below article will discuss the different types of batteries typically used in solar applications and the best way to maintain said batteries.
SLA Batteries (Sealed Lead Acid):
Proper maintenance, storage and charging practices are integral to the lifespan and performance of any battery. It is very important for all components in a solar fixture or generator to be designed with each other in mind. For example, the incoming recharge voltage should always be set to properly match the battery being used. This will prevent batteries from over or under charging and is typically regulated by a charge controller. Overcharging batteries can cause serious damage, and undercharging batteries can shorten the lifespan significantly.
For best SLA battery maintenance, we recommend keeping the batteries as close to fully charged as possible after each use. SLA batteries should also be stored in a fully charged state when not in use, and occasionally topped off to prevent depreciation. Please note batteries should be stored in a cool, dry place, within the recommended temperature range, per that specific battery manufacturer.
Lithium Ion Batteries:
The recently popular and quickly growing battery technology is Lithium Ion batteries. They feature a high energy density when compared to size and most importantly weight. This makes them very popular in Smart phones, Tablets and you guessed it, Solar Products. These batteries typically operate at higher volts per cell, which means a single cell can store as much power as multiple Nickel cells. Lithium batteries also tend to have a low self-discharge rate, meaning they can store power for a longer period of time. The main drawback to Lithium battery technology currently is they cost considerably more than their Sealed Lead Acid counterpart.
The solar industry is not limited to SLA and Lithium batteries; however, they are by far the most commonly used. Some of the smaller applications utilize a Nickel based battery such as NiCad and NiMH. These batteries are currently superior in durability, found in climates with extreme temperatures. There are so many different uses and intricacies when dealing with battery technology, and this article barely even scratches the surface. As always, we are just a phone call away (877-548-3387) and are happy to offer our expertise.