Different Types of Solar Batteries
July 27, 2023
Your high-efficiency solar panels bask in, absorb and convert glorious sunlight into energy. Meanwhile, your solar storage battery (or batteries) banks excess power. When night falls or clouds refuse to clear, you’re covered.
As sophisticated devices that charge and discharge electricity, solar storage batteries are ideal complements to a solar array. You get the ability to keep the energy your panels have gathered. Of course, you also get the serious benefits of saving money and staying prepared for the unexpected!
Together, solar panels and solar storage batteries create an efficient, precise system for your home’s energy needs. In fact, a panels-plus-battery system is one of the wisest energy investments you can make.
If you don’t already own a solar storage battery, you might wonder what to look for. There are multiple types of solar batteries, so which would work best for your home?
Let’s check out the main solar battery types and see what would pair with your energy needs.
The Four Main Types of Solar Batteries
When looking at battery types for solar storage, you’ll run across many brands touting various tech. At the end of the day, most of those solar storage batteries fall into one of four categories. The key lies in the composition.
Note: Solar storage batteries qualify for rebates, incentives and tax credits. A higher-quality solar battery tends to cost more, just like any other long-lasting, reliable device.
[Related: Tesla Powerwall: How Does It Work?]
We figured we’d start with the best solar battery types.
Lithium-ion batteries, particularly lithium-ferrous-phosphate (LFP) batteries, are the newest and most reliable solar batteries on the market. They’re highly suitable for residential and commercial solar storage.
You see basic lithium-ion batteries in all manner of devices for good reasons, too. They store a great deal of energy for a long time before you have to recharge. They’re also efficient, lightweight and sleek, with high energy density.
The same goes for LFP solar storage batteries — you get serious storage capacity in a compact space! Plus, LFP solar batteries last years and function in a range of temperatures, which leads to exceptional versatility.
As newer tech, LFP solar batteries carry a higher price tag than other solar battery types. However, their reliability and longevity make them well worth the cost (and don’t forget your rebates and incentives).
Main uses: Residential and commercial energy storage
On the other hand, nickel-cadmium types of solar batteries are highly uncommon for home and business solar storage. They’re far more customary in large-scale industrial settings and even aircraft.
Why these rare settings? They’re low-maintenance solar battery types and can work in extreme temperatures. Nevertheless, one of their main components — cadmium — is particularly hazardous to human health and the environment.
As a result, installing, handling and discarding these batteries are delicate processes. They’re not “bad” solar batteries — they’re just impractical types of batteries for solar storage in most daily circumstances.
Main uses: Industrial and aviation energy storage
Of these types of solar batteries, lead-acid batteries have been around longest. And as you’d expect, that means lead-acid solar storage batteries are the cheapest of the bunch. But cheapest rarely (if ever) indicates best.
Although economical, lead-acid solar storage batteries have low energy density. In other words, they don’t hold much energy per kilogram, especially compared to LFP batteries. Currently, you might see lead-acid solar batteries in older industrial plants and general automotive applications.
Since newer and more effective tech has come along, lead-acid solar battery types have largely fallen by the wayside. You might still spot them alongside old-school solar arrays — they’re much larger and bulkier, so the difference is immediately clear.
Main uses: Automotive, residential and industrial energy storage
We’ve seen elements in these solar battery types thus far — what’s the deal with “flow” batteries?
A flow battery has two chambers containing electrolyte-rich liquids. A chemical reaction occurs when the liquids flow from one chamber to the next. These types of solar batteries are incredibly efficient … but have incredibly low energy density.
In other words, you get a tremendous amount of power and storage from two tremendous chambers — not bad, just big. As you can imagine, flow batteries are unrealistic types of batteries for solar storage at homes and businesses. (They could work if you’d like to spend a pretty penny and look like the neighborhood mad scientist.)
Main use: Massive-scale industrial and utility energy storage
Solar Battery Types: Takeaways
Now that you know the most common types of batteries for solar storage, you’re also probably debating which you’d select.
One thing remains consistent: For homes in particular, LFP batteries are the best solar battery types.
Still, much more than the battery type plays into your panels-plus-storage setup. An expert energy consultant will be familiar with all the technical specifications:
- How much sunlight your current panels usually absorb (or how many panels you’ll need)
- How many kilowatt-hours (kWh) your household uses daily on average
- The solar battery’s depth of discharge, power rating, roundtrip efficiency and usable storage capacity
- The solar battery’s life span (e.g., three to five years for lead-acid batteries, 15-plus for lithium-ion batteries)
- How many solar batteries you need (according to dozens of factors, including average energy use, peak sun exposure and number of solar panels)
- How to safely place and install the solar battery or batteries
- Your available financing options, credits (like the solar investment tax credit), discounts, rebates and incentives
All told, a ton of math and an equal amount of unique-to-you data go into choosing your solar battery brand and number. What may work great for one household may not work sufficiently for another. Again, consulting with a solar installation company is a must for making an informed decision.
Note: It is highly inadvisable to try to install a solar battery or solar panel system yourself. When defective or wired incorrectly, it can pose risks. Professional electricians and installers safeguard against dangerous outcomes — they know exactly what they’re doing.
[Related: Top 21 Tesla Powerwall Questions Answered]
Soak Up the Sun — and Store Its Energy — With Freedom Solar
We offer the SunPower SunVault and Tesla Powerwall — both top-rated LFP types of solar batteries. With 10-year warranties and exceptional efficiencies, they provide you with cost savings, outage protection and energy independence.
Are you ready to start harnessing the sun? Our energy consultants are here to offer personalized advice.
Featured image via Pexels