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Have you ever wondered how to pick out the best battery(s) for your solar panel system (or off-grid energy system)? Or have you wondered what makes one deep cycle battery better than another?  If so, this article will answer these questions and give you specific things to check on before buying your new battery (to make certain you get the most bang for your buck)!

When choosing a battery (or batteries) for your solar panel system, there are 3 categories of batteries which work best.    We will do this in two parts:

Part 1)   Quickly compare the three main types of solar batteries (lead acid, saltwater, and lithium).   And,

Part 2)   Assess the components of batteries, such as: depth of discharge, capacity and power, efficiency, battery life, and manufacturer.

By the conclusion of this article you will know exactly how to pick out the ideal battery for your own solar panel system!

So let’s get started…

Part 1) The Three Best Types Of Batteries For Solar Panel Systems: The best type of battery for your solar panel system will depend on what you’re looking for. There are three battery types that work exceptionally well; however, each battery type has pros and cons. So the first decision to make is the type of battery that will fit your system.

They are also among the longest-used and most reliable batteries in existence.  Compared to the other batteries we will discuss in this report; they’re the cheapest option but you trade price for some battery life and depth of discharge.  But for homeowners needing lots of storage for a lesser cost, or whether you are just making the transfer to a solar panel system, lead acid batteries might be an excellent option.  They’re the sort of battery we use in most of the battery banks in our solar panel systems.

Saltwater Batteries

Saltwater batteries are more expensive than lead acid batteries, but also have a greater lifespan.  Unlike lead acid batteries, saltwater batteries are essentially brand new to the industry and remain both somewhat untested and more difficult to come across.  Of the three kinds of batteries, saltwater has the best depth of discharge, which means you’ll find the most output per charge before needing to recharge.

Lithium batteries are the most expensive and the longest lasting of the three kinds of solar batteries.  Their depth of discharge is less than that of a saltwater battery, but more than that of a lead acid battery. Comparing all three choices, the lithium ion battery is probably the highest rated, but also the most expensive.  An example of a lithium ion battery is the Tesla Powerwall.

Part 2) Compare the elements of batteries.  As soon as you’ve chosen the best battery type for your solar panel or off-grid system (that meets your system’s needs), there are elements to research to find the perfect battery for your system.  

Cost

Cost is probably one of the more obvious elements.  But the old saying,”you get what you pay for” holds true when buying batteries also.  Sometimes though, certain batteries could be overkill for your system so the most expensive battery might not be the best choice always.

Battery Life and Warranty

For many systems, a battery will cycle every day, meaning it will charge and drain regularly.  With every cycle, the battery’s ability to maintain the identical charge lessens slightly.  So one component to consider is the warranty on the battery that guarantees a specific number of cycles of useful life.  But bear in mind that when you use the maintenance and reconditioning methods we teach you in the EZ Battery Reconditioning application, you can extend the life of your batteries.

Length of Discharge

Length of release is how much you can drain the battery down before needing to recharge the battery without harming its life.  Certain solar batteries can be depleted further than others, allowing for more use between charging.  Basically, a battery with a 90% depth of discharge per cycle will provide more battery power per charge than a battery with less.

Capacity and Power

Measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), capacity is the amount of energy a battery can store over time. The more capacity a battery has, the more power it can save.   Power is how much energy that a battery can provide at a certain moment.  A battery with a high capacity and high power can run a large system for many hours; a battery with low capacity and higher power can run a large system but just for a brief time.

Efficiency

Efficiency is the amount of energy used compared to the amount of energy it took to store said energy.  Batteries require power to charge and efficiency compares the energy taken to control a battery together with the amount of energy that the charged battery produces.  The higher the efficiency, the more cost-effective the battery.

Manufacturer

This might not be a part most would consider, but it is something to focus on.  Like other technology, there are both reputable brands and start-up brands.  A trusted brand comes with known flaws and advantages; a start-up brand can perhaps have better technology, but could also have yet unknown technological difficulties.  Based upon your system needs, you may decide to go for a well-reviewed firm or one that is brand new to the market.