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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 greater 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 choosing 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 chief 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 end of this article you will know exactly how to pick out the ideal battery to your own solar panel system!

So let’s begin…

Part 1) The Three Best Types Of Batteries For Solar Panel Systems: The best type of battery for your solar panel system will be dependent on what you’re looking for. So the first decision to make is the type of battery that will fit your system.

Lead Acid Batteries

They’re also one of 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 price for some battery life and depth of discharge.  But for homeowners needing lots of storage for a lesser cost, or whether you are simply making the move to a solar panel system, lead acid batteries might be a very good option.  They’re the type of battery we use in most 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 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, 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 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) Assess the components of batteries.  As soon as you’ve picked the best battery type for your own solar panel or off-grid system (that meets your system’s needs), there are components 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 purchasing batteries as well.  Sometimes though, certain batteries may be overkill for your system so the most expensive battery might not be the ideal choice always.

For many systems, a battery will cycle daily, meaning it will charge and drain regularly.  With each cycle, the battery’s ability to maintain 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

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 farther than others, allowing for more use between charging.  Basically, 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

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 massive system for many hours; a battery with low capacity and higher power can operate 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 charge a battery with the amount of energy which 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.  As with other technology, there are both trusted brands and start-up brands.  A trusted brand includes known flaws and advantages; a start-up brand can perhaps have better technology, but could also have yet unknown technological issues.  Depending on your system needs, you may decide to go for a well-reviewed firm or one that is brand new to the market.