SOLAR PANEL SYSTEMS
Solar batteries are really deep cycle batteries that provide energy storage for solar, wind and other renewable energy systems. Different from a car battery, a deep cycle battery is capable of surviving prolonged, repeated and deep discharges which are typical in renewable energy systems that are "off grid" (disconnected from the electric utilty company). If you are new to solar and renewable energy system, please be sure to read our free & informative articles on batteries for solar and renewable energy systems.
DEEP CYCLE BATTERIES ARE REQUIRED FOR SOME TYPES OF SOLAR PANEL SYSTEMS
Solar Batteries (Deep Cycle Batteries) are a key component in a stand-alone renewable energy system. If you are installing a wind, solar panel or hydro electric system that will be tied to your utility grid, you will still need deep cycle batteries if you are trying to use power in the event of an outage. Without deep cycle batteries, you can only use power at the time you produce it (i.e. you will not have power when the sun isn't out if you don't have batteries in your solar electric system).
In renewable energy systems, deep cycle batteries provide the energy storage for your system. Unlike your car battery, deep cycle batteries that are used in renewable energy applications are meant to be discharged and recharged (cycled) repeatedly. To maintain healthy batteries and prolong battery life, most manufacturers suggest limiting the depth of discharge to about 20%. (That means the deep cycle batteries will be at 80% capacity or better.) At the very least, do not allow the batteries to be discharged below 50% Depth of Discharge (DOD). Often an inverter will have a Low Voltage Disconnect feature that will disconnect loads at a given set point. Low voltage alarms can provide audible warnings as well. Ammeters, Voltmeters, Battery Monitors can help better maintain deep cycle battery health and provide statistics about the overall health of the system.
TYPES OF SOLAR BATTERIES
When selecting solar batteries (deep cycle batteries), you'll have the option to use flooded lead acid (FLA) batteries or sealed batteries (AGM or Gel cell). Keep in mind that FLA batteries require a bit of maintenance, however, they generally last longer than their sealed counterparts. Water Miser Vent Cap - Reduces Battery Watering can reduce the frequency that the deep cycle batteries need watering. You'll need one vent cap for each 2 V cell.
DESULPHATORS ARE A GREAT WAY TO EXTEND DEEP CYCLE BATTERIES' LIFE
Desulphators are another good low cost investment that can help prevent sulfation and boost the performance of the batteries. Flooded Lead Acid deep cycle batteries can build up sulfate crystals on their lead plates over time. Our desulfators "shake" these sulfate crystals off the surface electronically and can actually save the life of a battery that would otherwise be thrown out.
DEEP CYCLE BATTERIES RANGE WIDELY IN WEIGHTS
Deep cycle batteries come in many sizes: from batteries that are less than 10 pounds to ones that weigh over 200 pounds each! They can be small (and fit in a backpack) or large (2'x 2'x 1') and anywhere in between. Generally the size and weight correspond with amp hours of storage. So if you need a lot of electrical storage, be sure that you have the appropriate space to house the batteries and brawny people to help you put them in place.
Whether you have one battery or a bank of 36, proper storage is essential. Battery Boxes can provide a neat and safe way to contain the batteries or you can build your own battery box. Often people add an optional battery Ventilators/Battery Fans that can vent the hydrogen gas that is naturally exhausted by the deep cycle batteries charging.
DEEP CYCLE BATTERIES STORAGE CAPACITY: BATTERY BANK SIZING
Deep cycle battery banks consist of one or more batteries, and are measured in amp hours of storage capacity. Each deep cycle battery can be 2, 4, 6, or 12 volts DC (Vdc). The choice of individual solar battery voltage will depend upon your total system voltage (12, 24 or 48 Vdc) and your desired amp hours of storage. Often the 2V deep cycle batteries offer the largest amount of storage; however, you may need up to 24 of these huge deep cycle batteries, if your system is 48 volts. Also see our very informative Video on Battery Bank Sizing for Off Grid Home Solar Systems, that will cover the calculations for load analysis, battery bank capacity, array wattage, charge controller and inverter sizing.
WIRING UP YOUR DEEP CYCLE BATTERIES
Connect your solar batteries (i.e. deep cycle batteries), using Battery Interconnect Cables, in series, parallel, or a combination of both depending upon your system voltage and the storage capacity you need. Read more about this in the how to section about deep cycle battery bank sizing. While deep cycle batteries may be a large expense for a sizeable off grid system, with proper care and maintenance, they should last 5-10 years. Let us know how many watt hours per day you need to provide, and the number of days of storage you need, and we'll be happy to offer specific sizing recommendations for your deep cycle batteries.