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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 provide you specific things to check on before purchasing your new battery (to make certain you get the most bang for your buck)!

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

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

Part 2)   Compare the elements of batteries, such as: depth of discharge, capacity and power, efficiency, battery life, and maker.

By the conclusion of the article you will know just how to pick the ideal battery to your own solar panel system!

So let’s begin…

So the first decision to make is the sort of battery that will fit your system.

Lead acid batteries are the most commonly used rechargeable battery in the world. They are also among the longest-used and most dependable batteries in existence.  Compared to the other batteries we’ll discuss in this report; they’re the cheapest option but you exchange cost for some battery life and depth of discharge.  But for homeowners needing a great deal of storage for a lesser price, or if you are simply making the move to a solar panel system, lead acid batteries might be an excellent option.  They’re the type of battery we use in the majority of the battery banks within our solar panel systems.

Saltwater batteries are more expensive than lead acid batteries, but also have a better lifespan.  Contrary to lead acid batteries, saltwater batteries are essentially brand new to the market and stay 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 get the most output per fee before needing to recharge.

Lithium Batteries

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 options, the lithium battery may be the highest rated, but also the most expensive.  An example of a lithium battery is the Tesla Powerwall.

Part 2) Compare the elements of batteries.  Once 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 explore to find the ideal battery to your system.  

Cost

Price is probably one of the more obvious components.  But the old saying,”you get what you pay for” holds true when buying batteries as well.  Sometimes though, certain batteries may be overkill for your system so the most expensive battery may not be the best choice always.

For most systems, a battery will cycle daily, meaning it will drain and charge regularly.  With every cycle, the battery’s ability to maintain the same charge lessens slightly.  So 1 component to consider is the warranty on the battery which guarantees a specific 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.

Depth of Discharge

Depth of discharge is how much you can drain the battery 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.  Essentially, 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 both a high capacity and higher power can run a massive system for several 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 quantity of energy it took to store said energy.  Batteries require power to control and efficiency compares the energy taken to control a battery with the amount of energy which the charged battery produces. 

Manufacturer

This might not be a component most would consider, but it’s 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 yet unknown technological issues.  Depending upon your system needs, you might decide to go for a well-reviewed company or one that is brand new to the market.