Solar Batteries 101

Solar Batteries 101

What are the Solar Batteries?

Solar batteries are the devices that are used in solar panels. Solar panels use sunlight all day long to convert it into electricity but sometimes excess electricity is produced. This surplus energy is stored within the batteries for future usage. Batteries are more helpful for people who prefer off-grid systems than those relying on on-grid systems. In times of power cuts or electricity shortages, these batteries may facilitate electricity. Even during non-sunny days or cloudy days, batteries will still meet the electricity needs of the people relying on solar panels.    

Solar battery system with lithium-ion batteries connected to solar panels, providing sustainable energy storage.

How do Solar Batteries Work?

Many must have a basic understanding of what solar batteries exactly are. In simple terms, they are a storage room where solar panels can store excess energy produced, to be used in the future. Sometimes these batteries charge themselves by sunlight only.

In this section, the working of these devices is explained. If we take a closer look at the functioning, we will experience the complexity of it. There’s a huge science behind the work which may become hard to understand and digest at times. Don't worry, we have got your back. We have explained this whole process in simple terms and smaller chunks for better understanding. So, why hesitate any longer? Dive in and learn more!

Illustration of a solar battery system showing energy flow between solar panels, a battery, and a house.

Solar energy has become increasingly popular as a clean and sustainable power source. When it comes to harnessing solar energy, one critical component of a solar PV system is the inverter. Inverters are responsible for converting the direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels into usable alternating current (AC) electricity for your home. There are two common types of inverters used in solar installations: string inverters and micro-inverters.

In this blog, we will delve into the differences and benefits of string inverters vs. micro-inverters to help you make an informed decision for your solar energy system.

  • Solar Panel Generation

Solar Panels capture direct sunlight for voltage generation. Photons in sunlight are responsible for this purpose. When sunlight falls on panels, photons transfer the energy inside them to the electrons of the panels. This causes electrons to move and create energy i.e. Direct Current (DC).

  • Role of Inverters

Direct Current that was created by the movement of electrons is transferred to the inverter upon its generation. The main reason for the inverter being installed in solar panels is that it converts the Direct Current (DC) into Alternating Current (AT). Alternating Current is the basic current that is used by every household. It also works to align the Alternating Current with the grid phase so that it can be delivered properly. 

  • Energy Storage

Usually during highly sunny days, solar panels capture extra sunlight that leads to surplus energy generation. The extra energy produced is diverted to the battery for storage. Inverters convert Direct Current into Alternating Current, moving ahead in this process Alternating Current is converted into chemical bonds for storing in the batteries. 

  • Battery Operation

The most commonly used battery type is the Lithium-Ion Battery. It consists of multiple cells like cathodes, anodes, and electrolyte solutions. When surplus electricity is produced, ions existing in cathodes move toward the anode. This way, the Alternating Current gets converted into chemical bonds. When the stored electricity is needed, ions move from anode to cathode converting chemical bonds into electricity which is finally utilized by the consumers.   

  • Battery Management System [BMS]

A battery Management System is a system that is installed in solar panels to ensure battery safety. In simple terms, this system can be titled as the guardian of solar batteries. It keeps monitoring the essential factors of batteries like State of Charge (SoC), State of Health (SoH), Temperature, etc. It performs every function to make sure that the battery doesn’t heat up and remains safe. Thus, ensuring its long lifespan.  

  • Usage of Energy 

Till now, energy was being absorbed and stored but now it’s time for it to get used! When the electricity needs of some people remain unfulfilled, this stored energy is used. Mostly, during cloudy weather, this electricity is utilized from batteries. 

So, to crisp everything into smaller chunks, solar energy is captured by the panels first, and Direct Current is created. Next, this Direct Current undergoes conversion into Alternating Current through inverters. The surplus Alternating Current is sent to the batteries where it turns into chemical bonds. Surplus electricity is preserved in the form of chemical bonds inside the batteries. When required these chemical bonds are converted into Alternating Current again and released for usage. 

Why Use Solar Batteries? What are its benefits?

Solar batteries are one of the greatest and most helpful innovations in the Solar Energy sector. Those who have adopted this device are fully enjoying the benefits of it. Thanks to these advantages, solar energy modules are becoming popular day by day. Some of the benefits are mentioned below, please take a look at them if you're considering going Solar. 

  • Energy Storage

‘Solar Battery Storage’, as the name suggests, stores surplus current that has been produced during the day. It acts as a warehouse of electricity that is utilized when there is a need for it. This feature of solar batteries enables the solar panels to consistently supply power during shortages or cut-offs. 

  • Reduced Electricity Bills

Solar Panels utilize direct sunlight to produce electricity. It consumes a ‘Free’ and abundant resource for this purpose. Solar batteries, on the other side, allow excess electricity produced to be stored inside them for future uses. Solar batteries enable civilians to partially or fully depend on solar energy. 

  • Low Maintenance 

Unlike other energy savers, solar batteries require low maintenance. It is more like a one-time investment as individuals have to incur installation expenses and some occasional repairs during their lifetime. Not only this, users do not have to run here and there to re-fuel the batteries. Solar batteries charge themselves with the help of sunlight. Thus, no huge amount of money is spent while using such batteries. 

  • Backup Power

Our solar panels produce a good amount of electricity, almost every day. Adopting solar batteries allows us to store surplus energy. When panels create electricity in huge amounts, it gets stored inside the batteries as backup power for ‘dark’ times, like during power cuts or natural calamities.

The benefits listed above are among the common advantages of Solar batteries. These benefits contribute to the encouragement of the adoption of solar batteries. If you are one of those readers who are encouraged by those advantages, you must be aware of the types of solar batteries available. 

 

Types of Solar Batteries.

Knowing the various types of solar batteries available out there is an important thing to do. If somebody is planning to get their hands on solar batteries then awareness of different variations is necessary.

Four prevalent varieties of solar batteries exist i.e. Lead- Acid Battery, Lithium Ion Battery, Flow Batteries, and Nickel Cadmium Battery. We have described all these types below, please take a look: 

  • Lead-Acid Battery

Lead- Acid Battery is the oldest battery type among the four. Its usage started somewhere around the 1800 century. Along with other solar technologies, lead-acid batteries have been developed a lot.  

Lead- Acid Batteries are easily available in the market due to their long history of use. They are cost-effective and affordable thus, making them more attractive to users. Its average lifespan is estimated to be around 5-10 years i.e. they work for a moderate lifetime. 

Accommodating the above-mentioned features, there are some negative points as well. The notable one is that its energy-holding capacity is low. That means even if the solar panels end up producing large amounts of energy, lead-acid batteries will store a moderate amount of electricity.       

  • Lithium-Ion Battery

Lithium- Ion Battery is also one of the most preferred battery types. They use various chemistries for their electrolytes and electrodes. Common ones are Lithium Iron Phosphate; Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide; Lithium Titanate. 

Lithium- Ion Batteries enable people to store a significant amount of energy upon their production that is higher than lead-acid batteries. They have significantly longer lifespans which makes them more attractive. They are designed to be adaptable i.e. they get installed in different set-ups. 

If we take a look at the other side of the coin, we’ll notice a few cons of it as well. Lithium- Ion Batteries are not budget-friendly like Lead- acid ones as they are accompanied by lots of upfront costs. Also sometimes, safety concerns arise as well. Usually, these are a safe type but certain chemistries are prone to danger.     

  • Flow Batteries

Unlike Lead-Acid Batteries, Flow Batteries are one of the newest variants of solar batteries. Although, the technology used in Flow Batteries has been employed in various forms over an extended period. These batteries consist of a water-based solution of zinc-bromide. As the name suggests, this solution “flows” within these batteries from one end to the other. 

Some plus points of flow batteries are that they can tolerate extreme heat. Their efficiency remains uninterrupted by extreme weather changes. Another positive feature is that they have 100% Depth-of- Discharge i.e. all the energy stored within the battery can be consumed by the users. They are naturally resistant to fire and can work wonderfully even when the minimum charging level is not maintained. 

From another perspective, flow batteries do possess some cons as well. To mention some, they have low energy density i.e. the normal-sized flow batteries would store less energy compared to other battery types. Flow batteries come with complex systems and designs. Because of this reason maintenance and initial costs increase as well.       

  • Nickel Cadmium

Nickel Cadmium Batteries are one of the oldest types of batteries on the market. They were first invented in the late 1800s and have been developed over time. These batteries were re-designed in 1980 which led to an increase in their storing capacity. These were used in various applications along with solar energy but the toxic effects of cadmium proved to be a downfall for their usage. Their popularity among users has been declining over the period. 

Nickel-cadmium batteries have a longer lifespan compared to other batteries. They can also persist a huge number of charges and discharges without affecting their efficiency. Talking about charge and discharge, they possess the ability to rapidly charge themselves and discharge the stored energy. These batteries facilitate buildings and commercial sites where quick energy transmission is required. 

Conversely, nickel-cadmium are prone to voltage depression i.e. their capacity can be reduced if they are not fully discharged before being recharged. They also possess a high self-discharge rate. A high self-discharge rate indicates that these batteries can lose stored energy without using it. Their usage and popularity have significantly decreased due to the harmful effects of cadmium on the environment.  

How to choose the right Battery type?

There are some factors to consider while selecting a suitable and affordable battery for solar panels. Below we have mentioned the list of four common and best factors that should be considered before selection.

  • Battery type: This factor clearly states that one must learn about the commonly used batteries, their pros and cons, suitability, etc. The type that fits all the requirements must be preferred. Selection should also be done based on energy density, lifespan, maintenance, etc. 
  • Capacity: Before selecting a battery, one must consider knowing more about the battery capacity. Battery capacity is the storage capacity of batteries. Calculate the daily energy consumption and determine the number of days one would want backup power. 
  • Cycle-life: Cycle-life determines how many charge and discharge cycles a battery can endure without adversely affecting the capacity of it. One must choose a battery with a longer cycle life. 
  • Warranty: A battery with warranties and guarantees to ensure long-term reliability and safeguard the investment of users must be chosen. 

Above are listed a few points that should be considered before investing in solar batteries. Solar batteries are a costly investment therefore, a thorough and deep analysis must be conducted by the buyers before investing their scarce resources in it. 

Conclusion

In summary, this Solar Battery 101 guide enables you to embrace a sustainable and green energy future. Beginning with the meaning of solar batteries and going through their workings, benefits, varieties, and factors, you are empowered to make better and more informed choices. Adopt solar batteries as a path to a cleaner and brighter tomorrow. Good luck with your journey with solar batteries!  

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *