About the Post

Jerry Hardy

Author Information

I was a Building Contractor along with owning rental properties where I did most of the repairs myself. Its my pleasure to pass on to you some of the methods I had used in the past. Hopefully, this will save you the expense of hiring a professional to do the work.

Solar Power Battery



battery

The storage battery is the heart of the solar electrical system.  Batteries come in different shapes, sizes and capacities, however they all have the same purpose of storing electrical energy for use during times of daylight and when light is absent. Batteries provide large amounts of power for short periods of time, well above an engine alternator or solar panel.  The life capacity of a battery is determined by how it is used and maintained.

Lead Acid Battery

This type consists of negative and positive electrodes composed of lead and lead peroxide suspended in electrolyte which consists of a mixture of water and sulfuric acid. When current is drawn from the battery, lead sulfate accumulates in the plates. When the battery is charged, current is forced back into the battery and the plates restored to their original composition. Capacity is rated in ampere hours(AH).  A 100 AH battery can deliver 1 amp for 100 hours or 5 amps for 20 hours which is common in usage. The batteries discharge rate governs the available capacity. A batteries state-of-charge is the measurement of the sulfate content of its electrolyte and is displayed by either a hydrometer or voltmeter. The common lead acid battery output voltage under certain conditions is 2 volts per cell.  A 6 volt battery consists of 3 cells while a 12 volt battery consists of 6 cells.

Automotive vs Deep-Cycle Batteries

An automotive battery delivers a short surge of power followed by a fast recharge by an alternator.  A total discharge of this type will cause some permanent damage internally. It can lose fifty percent of its capacity after being drained and recharged only 50 times.

A deep-cycle battery will supply a low amount of current over a long duration. It can withstand repeated cycles of complete discharge and still function well.  It is the preferred battery for use in a solar system. The continuous low charging rate furnished by solar energy extends the life of a deep-cycle battery considerably.

Temperature Effects

Temperature has a considerable effect on performance and capacity.  Batteries perform the best in a temperature range of 50 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  At 80 degrees Fahrenheit, they function at 100%.  At 32 degrees Fahrenheit performance drops to 65% and at zero degrees performance drops to 40%.  Extremely high temperatures will shorten the life of a battery due to an acceleration of the chemical reaction within the cells. In addition, if a battery with a low charge is subjected to freezing temperatures, damage can result.

Aging, Sulfation and Self-Discharge

The ability of a battery to store and deliver its rated output is affected by age.  In addition, an older battery will lose its ability to resist overcharge which can result in more  deterioration.

Sulfation occurs each time a battery is discharged. When lead is converted to lead sulfate, it impregnates the battery plates. If it is not recharged, over time sulfation can destroy the porosity of the plates reducing the batteries ability to produce power.

If it is allowed to remain unused or without recharging, it will self-discharge, resulting in sulfation. Self-discharge is caused by impurities in the plates construction and by adding tap water rather than distilled water when needed.

Battery Maintenance 

Solar batteries should be placed in a location where there is easy access for proper maintenance.  Suggested monthly maintenance procedure are as follows:

1. Check the electrolyte level and add distilled water when needed.  Never add tap water to a battery since it contains minerals which will shorten battery life and capacity.

2. Clean the terminals with a stiff wire brush and check the terminal connections for tightness.

3. Prevent corrosion by coating the terminal connectors with petroleum jelly, silicon grease or connector protective coating available at most auto supply stores.

4. To prevent sulfate formation, keep the batteries charged.

5. Clean the top of the battery with a damp cloth. An accumulation of electrolyte, dirt and corrosion can cause a discharge due to a slow leakage of power across the terminals.

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