Batteries play an important role in your home’s solar energy system. It stores energy produced during the day to be used at night or on cloudy days, and ensures optimal use of renewable energy as well as independence from the grid. Generally, there are two battery options for solar backup– lead-acid and lithium batteries. Here’s some insight into how the two measure up.
- Technology – Lead-acid batteries are traditional battery technology. They’re tried and tested but they are falling behind when it comes to supplying modern systems. Lithium is the new, premium battery type, and while they offer far better technology, they do have a few drawbacks.
- Cost – Newer technology costs more, so expect to pay more for lithium solutions for your solar backup system than you would for lead-acid (both flooded lead-acid and sealed lead-acid).
- Maintenance – Maintenance is higher for lead-acid batteries. They require more labor and have higher costs over the long-term than their lithium counterparts. For example, flooded lead-acid batteries must be checked and refilled every 1-3 months, while lithium batteries require very little, if any, maintenance over their long lifespan.
- Cycle life – One charge cycle occurs each time you use up the battery’s power and then recharge it to full capacity with your panels. These cycles are limited in number. Over time, the battery will lose its capacity and efficiency, resulting in shorter and shorter cycles. A lead-acid battery has around 300 discharge/charge cycles, while a lithium battery can last around 5000 discharge/charge cycles, so they last much longer and need to be replaced far less often.
- Cleaner electricity – When a lead-acid battery discharges energy for you to run your appliances, the voltage can be inconsistent. This is more wears down appliances and surges can affect more sensitive equipment such as computers. Lithium batteries are known for their stable, clean power, so they are much safer to use to power electrical equipment.
- Efficiency – The greater your battery’s efficiency, the more of the battery’s capacity you can access. Lead-acid batteries are only around 80% efficient, so if you have 1000W of solar energy coming into your solar backup system, you can only access around 800W of this power. Lithium batteries are more than 95% efficient and getting better every year, so you can access 950W of your stored power.
In the end, the choice is up to you. But as residential solar professionals, we’d recommend lithium for its efficiency, affordability over the long-term, and lower maintenance.
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