4 Solar Battery Types | Pros and Con Checklist

 

Researching solar batteries can be a confusing task and it can be hard to know which option is right for you.

If your thinking of installing solar or you already have a system in place but you are looking to add on a battery here is Solar Market’s pro and con list for the top 4 solar battery types on the market.

Home Battery Scheme Australia

Solar Lead Acid Battery

Similar to the batteries we have in our cars, here are the pros and cons of Lead Acid batteries:

Pro:

  • As a tried and tested battery, Lead Acid designs are dependable and reliable.
  • Lead Acid batteries are cost effective.

Con:

  • Lead Acid batteries are bulky and take up a lot of space.
  • Lower life cycle than some other solar battery options (usually between 2-8 years).
  • Heat can reduce their lifespan further so it’s best for them to be stored in a separate dry battery shed.
  • Only a 60% or less charge depth- a charge higher than that will impact its performance and life span.
  • Lead Acid batteries have a tendency to leak hydrogen gas.

Best for: off-grid systems as they are reliable and hardy. Lead Acid batteries are also cost-effective when installing large amounts of storage.

Top Brands:

Lithium-ion Battery

There are two types of Lithium-ion battery options on the market:

    • NMC (Nickle Manganese Cobalt).
    • LiFePo (Lithium Iron Phosphate).

Similar to the batteries we have in our smartphones, here are the pros and cons of Lithium-ion batteries.

Pro:

  • A long-life span of 13-18 years.
  • A discharge depth of up to 80%.
  • Compact and light design.

Con:

  • Lithium-ion batteries can be up to 50% more costly than some other battery options in the market such as the Lead Acid battery.

Best for: retrofit, hybrid and off-grid options.

Top Brands:

Flow Battery

Pro:

  • These batteries have a 100% charge depth which makes it one of the most effective batteries on the market.
  • Minimal or high charge depths do not degrade flow batteries over time.
  • Flow batteries can tolerate extreme weather (up to 50 degrees).
  • The zinc-bromine liquid used in flow batteries acts as a natural fire retarded.
  • Are cost effective and easy to refurbish should a battery die.

Con:

  • Have a lower life span than some Lithium-ion batteries.
  • To maintain effectiveness, flow batteries need to be regularly 100% discharged.
  • Can be up to 20% more expensive than Lithium-ion batteries.

Best for: Retrofit, hybrid and off grid options.

Top Brands:

Eco Sun Battery Power Diagram

Sodium-Nickle-Chloride Battery

Pro:

  • Fully recyclable.
  • Sodium-Nickle Chloride batteries can tolerate extreme weather (from -20 up to 60 degrees).
  • Non-toxic chemicals are used in their manufacturing.
  • Low fire risk.
  • Requires no internal cooling system. E.g fewer components to go wrong.
  • Charge depth of 80%.

Con:

  • Low life span compared to lithium-ion.

Best for: retrofit and hybrid options.

How To Install A Solar Battery:

The best way to get the solar panels and battery options that suit you is to compare quotes from multiple, experienced CEC accredited solar installers in your area. This is to ensure you are getting a system and battery that is tailored to your needs and property, not what the installer wants to sell.

Solar Market partners with top solar installers across Australia and will connect you with 3 local solar installers for complimentary quotes so you can start saving sooner. 

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.
 

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