Are lithium batteries the best option for solar installations?

Whether you’re looking to add battery storage to make your on-grid solar system more powerful or are living the off-grid dream, solar batteries can transform your solar installation and give you increased flexibility, capacity, and ease of mind. Lithium iron phosphate batteries are an ideal storage solution for those looking for an efficient battery that has a long lifespan and requires little to no maintenance. However, there are some important things to consider when shopping for solar batteries in order to ensure you’ll have a powerful and suitable system for you and your home.

                                            

Hat are deep cycle batteries?

Deep cycle batteries may look similar to car batteries, but they are actually very different. In contrast to car batteries which only provide short bursts of energy, deep cycle batteries are designed to provide sustained energy over a longer period of time.

How do solar batteries work?

Solar batteries store the energy that is collected from your solar panels. The higher your battery’s capacity, the more solar energy they can store. When using batteries for solar panels as part of a home solar system, you’re able to store the excess electricity your panels produce instead of sending that energy back into the grid (if you’re tapped into the grid.) In order to use batteries as part of your solar installation, you need solar panels, a charge controller, and an inverter.

Do I need battery storage?

I live or travel in a caravan: Yes!

We highly recommend battery storage for your caravan. In this scenario, your solar panels and batteries can take the place of a gas-powered generator. You’ll be able to keep things running even when your panels aren’t producing energy.

I live in a home with access to the electrical grid: Not a requirement, but is useful in case of outages.

Battery storage can be beneficial for homeowners, but it is not a requirement. If you’d like to go off-grid or be able to run your solar panels in the case of grid outages, battery storage is a great way to ensure continued energy access.

What should I consider when shopping for solar batteries?

Price: The cheapest lead acid battery can cost around $150, while lithium iron batteries can cost upwards of $2,000. But don’t just consider the upfront cost. You will have to replace lead acid batteries before you will need to replace a lithium iron battery, so it’s important to take into account the overall lifetime costs.

Capacity: Battery capacity, which is measured in total amp hours, refers to the amount of energy a battery can store. If you need to power certain appliances for long periods of time, you'll need more batteries to carry a bigger load.

Cycle Life: This specifies the number of discharge and charge cycles a battery can provide before the capacity drops below the rated capacity. This varies sharply from technology to technology and is measured by the number of cycles.

What are the pros and cons of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries?

Lithium iron phosphate batteries are the most expensive battery option, but they have an extremely long cycle life, high discharge and recharge rates, and are incredibly compact and lightweight. They also require little to no maintenance. The Renogy Smart Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery 12 Volt 100AH is a lightweight, safe, and long-cycle-life storage solution that can be suitable for many applications.

Pros of Lithium Batteries

  • Requires little to no maintenance
  • Long lifespan
  • Best cycle life
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Loses less capacity when idle

Cons of Lithium Batteries

  • Most expensive battery option
  • Smaller temperature range than other batteries


Do lithium batteries charge faster than flooded lead acid batteries?

Yes! As mentioned above, lithium iron phosphate batteries are more efficient and have a faster rate of charge. This is because they can typically handle a higher amperage, which means they can be recharged much faster than sealed and flooded lead acid batteries. Lead acid batteries are limited in how much charge current they can handle, mainly because they will overheat if you charge them too quickly.

I only plan on only using my batteries sometimes. Are lithium batteries a good option?

Compared to other battery technologies, lithium iron phosphate batteries lose less capacity when idle. This is especially useful in cases where solar energy is only used occasionally. They also have the best cycle life of deep cycle batteries, offering approximately 2000 cycles at 100% DoD (depth of discharge.)

What is the lifespan of lithium iron phosphate batteries?

Lithium iron phosphate batteries typically last about 10 years. The Renogy Smart Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery is rated to last at least 4,000 cycles at 80% depth of discharge. Lithium iron phosphate batteries also lose less capacity when idle.

How to maintain your battery bank for best performance?

Charge your batteries fully once a month, in order to equalize the batteries in your bank. If sunshine is not readily available, Renogy has a range of battery chargers available to help you maintain your batteries.You can also use an amp hour meter to check to see if the batteries are fully charged. We also recommend checking to see what your solar system is outputting at least twice a year to make sure you don’t have any underlying issues in your system.

Conclusion

Although many people focus on solar panels when planning a solar installation, one cannot afford to forget to weigh the different battery options. An under-performing battery can reduce the overall solar system performance and end up costing you thousands in the long run. Lithium iron phosphate batteries are a highly efficient, long-lasting, and low-maintenance storage solution that can be compatible with a range of solar installations. Regardless of if you’re living in a caravan or settling into an off-grid lifestyle, lithium iron batteries are worth the consideration.