Lead-acid batteries cost much less up front, though they have a shorter lifespan and need consistent maintenance to keep them working properly. Lithium batteries are a lot more costly up front, though they’re maintenance-free and also have an extended lifespan to complement the higher price tag of theirs. This article has a side by side comparison of both two choices.
This post goes over a decision you will have to create in case you purchase a battery-based solar system, sometimes to move off the grid or even to include power storage to your grid-connected home.
We are going to look at lithium-ion batteries versus lead acid the two (2) main battery sorts used for the sun.
Lead-acid is actually a tried and true technology which costs much less, but demands regular maintenance and does not survive as long.
Lithium is actually a premium electric battery technology with a more lifespan as well as greater efficiency, though you will pay more cash for the increase in performance.
Let us go over the advantages and disadvantages of each choice in much more detail, as well as explain the reason why you may pick one over the other for the system of yours.
Basic Lithium Solar Batteries Versus Lead-Acid
When you develop a solar energy system, you’ve three (3) main battery options
- Flooded Lead Acid (FLA) – The distinguishing characteristic of FLA batteries is the fact that the plates are submerged in water. These must be examined frequently and refilled every 1-3 a few months to keep them running well. Falling behind on upkeep can shorten the life on the batteries as well as void the warranty. FLA batteries also have to be fitted inside a ventilated enclosure to enable battery gases to getaway.
- Sealed Lead-Acid (SLA) – SLA batteries are available in two (2) kinds, Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) as well as Gel, and they have a lot of very similar qualities. They require limited to no maintenance and actually spills proof. The important difference between AGM versus Gel batteries is the fact that gel batteries are likely to have lower cost rates and output. Gel batteries generally cannot tackle as much cost electricity, meaning they take a bit longer to recharge and paperless power.
- Lithium – The most effective lithium battery chemistry for sun application is Lithium Iron Phosphate, shorted to LFP or LiFePO4 batteries. This brand new technology lasts longer and may be set through deeper cycles. They call for no maintenance or perhaps venting, unlike Lead Acid batteries. Lithium batteries cost much more up front, though the additional efficiency means you can spend less per kilowatt-hour of capability over the lifetime of the battery power.
The Pricing Breakdown of Lithium Batteries versus Lead-acid
Let us look at just how much it will cost you to create a battery bank account with all three (3) choices.
We are not only interested in the upfront price, but also the price of ownership over the lifetime of the product. In an off-grid atmosphere, you need to check out the believed cycle life since you’re cycling your batteries every day. This system will generate an estimated 23.08 kWh each day in the summer as well as 11.54 kWh each day in the winter.
Several Notes Relating to this Chart
We’re estimating that the lead-acid batteries will be replaced three (3) times more than ten (10) years, the lifetime of one lithium battery pack. This comparison is depending on the length of the guarantee provided by the makers. We have done our best to make an apples to apples comparison of the batteries depending on their printed specs. In real-world applications, factors such as discharge level, temperature, recharging source, total system design, and the willingness of yours to do regular maintenance will affect the real functionality of the batteries.
The Five Key Differences Between Lithium Batteries and Lead Acid
- The Cycle Life When you discharge an electric battery, use it to provide power to your appliances, then ask for it returned in place with the panels of yours, that’s described as one cost cycle. We determine the lifetime of batteries not in phrases of many years, but quite how many cycles they can deal with before they expire. Think of it like placing mileage on an automobile. When you assess the problem of a used automobile, mileage matters a great deal much more than the season it was created. Same goes for batteries as well as the number of times they have been cycled. Sealed lead-acid battery power at a holiday house might go through hundred cycles in four years, whereas the same battery may well proceed through 300+ cycles in a single season at a full-time residence. The person which has gone through a hundred cycles is actually in far better shape. Cycle life is also a characteristic of a level of discharge, how plenty of capabilities you make use of just before recharging a battery). Deeper discharges place much more pressure on the electric battery, and that shortens its cycleway of life.
- A Level of Discharge Discharge level refers to just how much general capability is used before recharging the battery power. In case you make use of a quarter of one’s battery’s capability, the level of discharge will be twenty-five (25) percent. Batteries do not discharge completely when you make use of them. They have a suggested level of discharge, as exactly how much can easily be worn before they must be refilled. Lead-acid batteries must just be run to fifty (50) percent level of discharge. Beyond that time, you risk adversely impacting the lifespan of theirs. In comparison, lithium batteries can handle deep discharges of eighty(8) percent or even more. This means they include a greater functional capacity.
- Efficiency in Using Lithium batteries are better. What this means is that much more of the solar power of yours is saved and used. As an example, lead-acid batteries are just 80-85% efficient based on the product and condition. Which means if you’ve 1,000 watts of the sun coming straight into the batteries, at this time there are just 800-850 watts accessible after the recharging and discharging procedure. Lithium batteries are much more than ninety-five (95) percent effective. In the same instance, you would have more than 950 watts of power offered. Higher effectiveness means your batteries charge quicker. Based on the setup of the system, it might also suggest you buy fewer solar panel systems, less battery power and a smaller backup turbine.
- The Charge Rate With higher performance additionally will come to a faster rate of cost for lithium batteries. They can withstand a better amperage in the charger, which suggests they may be refilled a lot quicker than lead-acid. We express charge price as a fraction, for example, C/5, in which C = the capability of the battery in amp-hours (Ah). So a 430 Ah electric battery recharging at a speed of C/5 will receive 86 recharging amps (430/5).Lead-acid batteries are restricted in just how much cost present they could handle, primarily since they are going to overheat whether you charge them way too fast. The fee rate gets significantly more slowly as you use full capacity. Lead-acid batteries can demand around C/5 during the majority stage up to eighty-five (85) percent capacity). The battery charger instantly slows down to top from the power packs. This means lead-acid batteries take a bit longer to charge, in some instances much more compared to 2x so long as a Lithium option.
- Energy Density The lead-acid batteries featured in the comparability above each weigh around 125 pounds. The lithium battery inspections are at 192 pounds. Most installers can deal with the additional weight, but DIYers may discover that the lithium batteries were much more complicated to set up. It is a good idea to solicit some help lifting plus moving them within a position. But that will come having a tradeoff. The big energy density of lithium batteries is substantially greater than lead-acid, which means they satisfy a lot more storage capacity into less space. As you can notice in the example, it will take 2 lithium batteries to provide power to a 5.13 kW process, though you would have eight lead-acid batteries to do the same task. When you consider the dimensions of the whole battery bank account into account, lithium weighs in at much less than half that much. This may be a genuine advantage in case you have to get creative with the way you mount the battery bank of yours. In case you’re hanging an enclosure on the wall structure or even concealing it inside a closet, the much better power density will help your lithium battery pack bank fit into tighter areas.
Which one would you choose Lithium or Lead Acid?
Lithium and lead-acid grade out at prices that are comparable over the lifetime of ownership, though lithium is a much steeper buy upfront. We would not suggest it unless you work with your program every day.
Allow me to share the battery types we would suggest for an assortment of applications:
Full-Time Off-Grid Residence
Flooded Lead Acid or perhaps Lithium. In case you reside off the grid full time, the best bet of yours is FLA in the event you do not care about regular maintenance or maybe the premium Lithium choice for heavy use.
Off-Grid Cabin or Vacation Home Sealed Lead Acid.
When you own anything such as a hunting cabin or maybe a holiday home, you will just be there a couple of times a year. Which means you will not be in a position to match the maintenance needed of FLA batteries. Spend a little additional on SLA instead. They are zero maintenance, therefore they will not die in case they remain idle for several months.
Electric battery Backup System
Sealed Lead-Acid. Suppose you’re creating a process with electric battery backup for emergency energy outages. Ideally, you’ll just use those batteries a year, a couple of times in case you live in a region with an unreliable energy grid. They will not see plenty of use for one to purchase lithium, and you do not wish to do maintenance on FLA power packs you utilize once a year. Go with SLA, that again does not need upkeep.
Remote Industrial Use
Sealed lead acid or perhaps lithium. The decision-making process is the same here. Lithium might be worthwhile to power an industrial website which sees heavy use. In case you’re powering basic monitoring gear with a remote outpost, SLA is going to get the task finished cheaper, and also you still will not have to be concerned about maintenance visits.