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How To Pick Out The Best Battery For a Solar Panel System, Battery Bank, or Off-Grid 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 purchasing your new battery (to ensure you get the most bang for your buck)!

When picking a battery (or batteries) to your solar panel system, there are three categories of batteries which work best.    We’ll do this in 2 parts:

Part 1)   Instantly 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 the article you will know exactly how to pick the best battery for your own solar panel system!

So let’s begin…

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.

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead acid batteries are the most commonly used rechargeable battery in the world. They’re also among the longest-used and most reliable batteries in existence.  When compared with the other batteries we’ll discuss in this report; they are the cheapest option but you trade cost for some battery life and depth of discharge.  But for homeowners needing a great deal of storage for a lower price, or if you are simply making the transfer to a solar panel system, lead acid batteries may be a very good option.  They’re the sort of battery we use in the majority of the battery banks within 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 basically brand new to the industry and stay both somewhat untested and harder to come across.  Of the three kinds of batteries, saltwater has the best depth of discharge, so you’ll get the most output per fee before needing to recharge.

Lithium batteries are the most expensive and the longest lasting of the three kinds of solar batteries.  Comparing all three choices, the lithium ion battery may be the highest rated, but also the most expensive.  A good example of a lithium ion battery is the Tesla Powerwall.

Part 2) Assess the elements of batteries.  Once you’ve picked the best battery type for your solar panel or off-grid system (that meets your system’s needs), there are elements to explore to find the perfect battery for your system.  

Cost

Cost is probably one of the more obvious components.  But the old saying,”you get what you pay for” holds true when purchasing batteries as well.  In some instances though, certain batteries may 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 daily, meaning it is going to charge and drain regularly.  With every cycle, the battery’s ability to hold the same charge lessens slightly.  So one component to consider is the guarantee on the battery that guarantees a certain number of cycles of useful life.  But bear in mind that if 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

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

Ability and Power

The more capacity a battery has, the more power it can store.   Power is how much energy a battery can provide at a given moment.  A battery with a high capacity and high power can run a massive system for several hours; a battery with low capacity and higher power can operate a large system but only for a brief time.

Efficiency

Efficiency is the amount of energy used compared to the amount of energy it took to store energy.  Batteries require power to charge and efficiency compares the energy taken to control a battery with the amount of energy which the charged battery generates. 

Manufacturer

This might not be a part most would consider, but it is something to pay attention to.  As with other technology, there are both reputable brands and startup brands.  A trusted brand includes known flaws and benefits; a start-up brand can perhaps have better technology, but can also have unknown technological issues.  Based upon your system needs, you may decide to go for a well-reviewed company or one that is brand new to the market.