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Have you ever wondered how to pick out the best battery(s) to 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 provide you specific things to check on before buying 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 3 categories of batteries which work best.    We’ll do this in 2 parts:

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

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

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…

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 sort of battery that will fit your system.

Lead acid batteries are the most commonly used rechargeable battery in the world. They’re also one of the longest-used and most reliable batteries in existence.  Compared to the other batteries we’ll discuss in this report; they are the cheapest option but you exchange cost for some battery life and depth of discharge.  But for homeowners needing lots 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 type of battery we use in most of the battery banks in our solar panel systems.

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 harder to come across.  Of the three types of batteries, saltwater has the best depth of discharge, which means you’ll find 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.  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.  A good example of a lithium battery is the Tesla Powerwall.

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

Cost

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

For many systems, a battery will cycle every day, meaning it is going to charge and drain regularly.  With each cycle, the battery’s ability to hold the same charge lessens slightly.  So one component to consider is the guarantee on the battery which guarantees a certain number of cycles of useful life.  But keep 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

Length of release is how much you can drain the battery before needing to recharge the battery without harming its life.  Particular solar batteries can be depleted farther 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 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 high power can operate a large system but just for a short time.

Efficiency

Efficiency is the amount of energy used compared to the quantity of energy it took to save energy.  Batteries require power to control and efficiency compares the energy taken to control a battery together 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.  Like other technologies, there are both reputable brands and startup brands.  A trusted brand includes known defects and advantages; a start-up brand can perhaps have better technology, but can also have unknown technological difficulties.  Depending on your system needs, you might decide to go with a well-reviewed company or one that is brand new to the market.