Lithium solar batteries are the current trendy battery of choice when it comes to solar systems. Solar enthusiasts rave over these batteries and often dismiss the premium price tag, but are they worth it? Are these batteries really the best option for solar panels? Let’s jump in and see!
Table of contents
- What Are Lithium Solar Batteries?
- Are Lithium Solar Batteries Really the Best for Solar Panels?
- Why The Battery Bank is the Most Important Part of a Solar System
- Benefits of Lithium Solar Batteries
- What To Look For When Buying Lithium Solar Batteries
- Our Top Lithium Solar Battery Recommendation
What Are Lithium Solar Batteries?
Lithium solar batteries are simply lithium batteries used in a solar power system. More specifically, most lithium solar batteries are deep-cycle lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries, similar to the traditional lead-acid deep-cycle starting batteries found in cars.
LiFePO4 batteries use lithium salts to produce an incredibly efficient and long-lasting battery. Because these batteries are deep-cycle batteries, they are great for solar applications which experience irregular charging and discharging.
Are Lithium Solar Batteries Really the Best for Solar Panels?
Yes, lithium solar batteries outperform the competition when it comes to storing energy for a solar system. They’re more efficient, charge faster, require no maintenance, and last substantially longer.
The efficiency comes from the very low internal resistance that allows the batteries to charge with minimal loss. This also means that they can discharge with minimal loss, so the energy in equals the energy out. When charging less efficient batteries, any loss is lost solar energy you cannot recover.
When you factor in these benefits, lithium solar batteries are a more cost-effective option than other battery types in the long run, despite their premium price tag.
Why The Battery Bank is the Most Important Part of a Solar System
It’s a common misconception that solar panels are the most critical part of a solar system. In reality, it’s the battery bank. Many consumers jump into the world of solar by purchasing several solar panels to keep their standard lead-acid battery charged. However, first investing in your battery bank provides better results. It doesn’t matter how many solar panels you have if your battery bank is insufficient for your needs.
Solar panels harness energy from the sun to charge the battery bank. When the sun goes down or on cloudy days, your system won’t generate power. For this reason, your battery bank is your limiting power source. The larger the battery bank, the more power you have available. Having a large solar array can help charge your battery bank faster but does not increase the battery capacity.
Benefits of Lithium Solar Batteries
When you compare lithium solar batteries to other types of batteries, you’ll quickly notice they’re one of the most expensive options. However, the benefits of lithium batteries justify their high upfront cost.
Great for Inconsistent Solar Charge Cycles
Solar charging conditions can be inconsistent as a result of weather, location, and time of year. Charging can vary significantly from one moment to the next, and cloudy days can practically render a solar array useless. Inconsistent charging may damage lead-acid batteries, but this is not an issue for lithium batteries.
Lithium batteries can accept a larger amount of charge current, which means shorter charging times. Additionally, lithium batteries are more forgiving when it comes to inconsistent charge cycles. With lead-acid batteries, you should fully recharge batteries after discharging any amount, or it can reduce the lifespan. A partial charge cycle has a minimal effect on the lifespan and performance of lithium batteries. This makes them superior for solar conditions.
Learn more about Charging Lithium Batteries here.
Great for Inconsistent Discharge Cycles
The amount of power you draw from your battery bank may also vary from day to day. Lithium batteries are great when it comes to handling inconsistent discharge cycles. Whether your lithium battery bank functions as a backup power supply or your main source of power, it can handle inconsistency in discharging without causing damage to the batteries. Even a deep discharge that would damage a lead-acid battery has minimal effect on high-quality lithium batteries.
Lifespan Beyond 5,000 Cycles
Many see the price tag of lithium batteries and immediately walk away. However, one of the most important aspects to consider is how long they last. Typical lead-acid batteries can last anywhere from 200 to 900 charging cycles. Under ideal conditions with proper maintenance, this ends up being a few years at the most with daily solar charging.
Conversely, lithium batteries are known for lasting 5000+ charge cycles, translating to 10+ years of use. For example, Battle Born designs their batteries to last 3,000 – 5,000 cycles regardless of the depth of discharge and backs their batteries up with a 10-year warranty. This guarantees that 80 percent of the battery will still be available after 5,000 discharge cycles!
Lithium batteries may come with a hefty initial investment but last years longer. Not needing to replace lithium batteries as often makes them one of the most cost-effective options for building a battery bank.
Power Available No Matter The Battery Level
As you drain a lead-acid battery, the voltage drops consistently. In most cases, you can only use about 50% of the capacity of a lead-acid battery before the voltage drops too much to power your electronics. Additionally, draining a lead-acid battery below 50% of its capacity causes damage and shortens the battery’s life.
On the other hand, lithium batteries provide consistent power and voltage during discharge until you fully drain the battery. This means you’re able to utilize the full capacity of the battery without experiencing any significant voltage drop. Additionally, fully discharging lithium batteries does not harm them like it does lead-acid batteries.
No Battery Maintenance Vs. Lead-Acid
With so many things requiring regular maintenance, it’s easy to appreciate lithium batteries being a maintenance-free option. After installing lithium batteries for your battery bank, you can practically forget about them.
Conversely, lead-acid batteries require quite a bit of regular maintenance. Lead-acid batteries use a mixture of sulfuric acid and water as the electrolyte to help store energy. Charging and discharging lead-acid batteries leads to water evaporating, which means you need to refill your battery often. Failure to check and fill a lead-acid battery leads to permanent damage, decreased performance, and shorter battery life.
Even maintenance-free lead-acid batteries need “equalization” charges to keep them healthy. If you’d prefer not to add another maintenance task to your list, lithium batteries are the best option.
What To Look For When Buying Lithium Solar Batteries
Not all lithium batteries are created equal. There are a few things you should consider before investing in lithium solar batteries.
The amp-hour rating (Ah) tells you approximately how many amps a battery can provide for one hour. For example, a 100 Ah battery can deliver 100 amps for one hour, or 50 amps for two hours, and so on.
The larger the number, the larger the battery’s capacity in terms of providing power. Connecting multiple batteries in parallel to form a battery bank increases the number of amp-hours and capacity available.
You’ll want to do an energy assessment before purchasing batteries to know what you’ll require from your battery bank. If you have an insufficient number of amp-hours from your battery bank, you’ll likely find yourself without power when you need it. Reach out to the experts here at Battle Born Batteries if you have any questions or need help determining how much battery capacity you need.
Discharging lead-acid batteries below 50% of their capacity causes permanent damage and decreases the battery’s performance. We design our batteries to drain to 0% without causing damage.
Our internal battery management system (BMS) manages the discharge cycle, so the battery’s rating is what you actually get. However, other lithium solar batteries typically only allow for an 80% discharge threshold without causing harm to the battery.
Battery Management System
The internal battery management system (BMS) helps ensure safe operation and optimal life expectancy from your lithium solar battery. The BMS monitors the battery’s health and temperature as well as balances the charge across the cells. If the BMS detects unsafe conditions, it shuts the battery down to prevent harm. Make sure the lithium battery you choose has an internal BMS.
Expert Customer Service
A solar power system can be incredibly complex and require extensive knowledge for proper calibration and optimal functionality. Having one setting in your system off can lead to frustration and regret. However, not all lithium solar battery companies are known for their tremendous customer service.
You want to look for a brand with a reputable name and track record of excellent customer service. There are plenty of brands available that are willing to take your money, but you want to make sure they’ll be there for you after the sale. You want expert customer service to help get the best performance from your lithium battery.
Lithium Solar Battery Lifespan & Warranty
Lithium solar batteries are one of the newest batteries on the market. As research and technologies continue to advance in this industry, the lifespan and warranties provided are extending. Brands that once offered three to five years of warranty protection now offer 10+ years of warranty protection.
Before your purchase, make sure you verify the warranty coverage and any requirements on your end to prevent voiding the warranty. You also want to verify what is covered and the replacement process to make an informed decision.
Our Top Lithium Solar Battery Recommendation
Now that you know you want a lithium solar battery bank, let’s look at our top recommendation… The Battle Born 100 Ah 12V LiFePO4 lithium battery.
Battle Born is a highly-regarded name in the lithium battery business. We have thousands of batteries working hard every day in tons of applications, from bass boats to RVs. Our company makes several shapes and sizes to fit many solar system applications.
We design our batteries to last 3,000 – 5,000 cycles, regardless of the depth of discharge, and we back this up with a 10-year warranty. Our proprietary BMS keeps your battery safe in all conditions and allows you to use the full capacity of your battery without causing damage.
We also pride ourselves on having one of the greatest customer service teams on the planet. If you have any questions about designing your system or lithium batteries in general, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you. When you invest in Battle Born, you’ll have the comfort and security knowing your batteries will last for many years to come and that we will be by your side the whole time.
Want To Learn More About Electrical Systems and Lithium Batteries?
We know building or upgrading an electrical system can be overwhelming, so we’re here to help. Our Reno, Nevada-based sales and customer service team is standing by at (855) 292-2831 to take your questions!
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