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Solar batteries come in all shapes and sizes but can last only briefly. Their ability to power hasn’t been questioned, but their ability to provide it over the years has been.
The different types of batteries can last longer, and some need no maintenance to extend their lives. So how long do solar batteries last?
Home solar batteries last between five and fifteen years. A few factors impact their life, but if you have panels on your home, the type of panels and the area around your home could impact their life.
Knowing how long your solar batteries last is critical for people trying to keep themselves off the grid of work towards preserving the environment.
Knowing when to use them and how to charge them could be frustrating and taxing. Don’t let it get you down! So read on and learn about how long solar batteries last!
How Long do Solar Batteries Last?
Solar batteries are an excellent investment, even though some only last a fraction of the time your solar panels will be operational. The life of a solar panel system is between twenty-five and thirty years. Solar batteries are delicate and could be impacted by several things that will shorten their lives and cause them to lose their ability to power.
How Much Do You Use the Solar Battery?
One of the most detrimental things to your battery life is how much you will use it. When a battery is charged and used over time, it can begin to degrade and produce less power. However, there are a few things about solar batteries that you must know that impact how long you can use them and how many years you can expect them to work.
A few things you must know about solar batteries and their usage are:
- Degradation – Batteries aren’t measured in years, but in the cycles, they go from fully powered to none. Over time they degrade to the point that some batteries only return 50% of their original voltage.
- Depth of Discharge – Another exciting thing about solar batteries is the depth of discharge. Depth of discharge is the lowest level the battery needs to get to before it damages its operation. If your battery gets below the recommendation in the owner’s manual, it will damage it going forward.
- Partial-Discharge – One way to protect against damaging the battery is by only using it for a small portion of time. Partially discharging the battery allows it to hold a full charge and will be stronger when you depend on its full power.
If you lean on your solar battery for constant power, it could damage it to the point that it only uses a small percentage of its power. However, by only using the battery for short periods and not allowing it to get below the depth of discharge, you can increase the life of your solar batteries.
The Type of Battery You Have is a Factor in its Longevity
There are three different types of solar batteries. They are made from different materials that have benefits that could improve how they work. However, their materials can also be detrimental to them and, when combined with other factors, can heavily influence how long the battery lasts. You should know what kind of battery you have as it will tell you long it could last.
The different types of solar batteries and how long they last are:
- Lead Acid – One of the most common solar batteries is made from lead acid. They only last from three to five years but are affordable. Lead acid solar batteries were some of the first and have been around for over two decades.
- Saltwater – Saltwater batteries are some of the longest-lasting solar batteries. Their materials are suitable for the environment and will last ten to fifteen years if maintained. Saltwater batteries are new territory, and their usage time could vary depending on how they were produced.
- Lithium Ion – The most impressive type of solar battery is lithium-ion. These are cutting-edge technology that can return over 80% of their power. In addition, they have a deeper depth of discharge and will last between twelve and fifteen years.
The different battery types have their benefits, but the most beneficial is lithium-ion. Lithium-ion batteries will last much longer and are made from lighter and easier-to-transport materials. They also charge faster and allow you to use them for extended periods. If you can’t afford lithium-ion, you must be able to handle the shortcomings of the other types.
Battery Maintenance is Critical for the Life of Your Solar Battery
No matter what type of battery you have or how much you use it, you will need to learn to maintain it. Maintenance could be as simple as cleaning the battery terminals or as complicated as rewiring a sequence of batteries. No matter the task, you must protect yourself with gloves, goggles, and a mask to be safe from fumes and harmful chemicals.
A few of the maintenance tasks you should perform on your solar batteries are:
- Battery Rotation – One of the best things you can do if you have solar batteries in a circuit is to rotate them. If you have several batteries strung together, moving them from the middle of the circuit to the outside is a good idea. This helps fight against uneven charging and could protect against a depth of discharge.
- Five Days – A good rule of thumb is that you should reserve enough solar battery power to last around five days. A good bit of maintenance for your circuit is to only add up to five days’ worth at once. The excess current can slow the batteries and prevent them from working correctly.
- Charging Cycle – Your solar batteries should be maintained on a regular charging cycle. Keeping them in a normal rhythm improves their lifespan by not overtaxing them and putting them beyond the depth of discharge.
- Top-Off Batteries – If you use lead-acid batteries, they could need to have distilled water poured into them. It has electrolytes that help charges conduct much better and will extend the life of the device.
- Equalize the Batteries – One of the most complicated processes in solar battery maintenance is equalizing batteries. It involves overcharging the batteries in the circuit and allows them to charge at their full potential.
Maintaining your batteries is a fantastic way to ensure they are productive throughout their lives. By taking the time to ensure they don’t get dropped below their depth of discharge or placed in the same spot in a circuit for too long, you will keep them around for much longer than expected.
Where the Solar Batteries are Stored is Critical to Their Survival
The temperature at which your solar batteries are kept will be crucial to how long they will last. This is because the chemicals inside batteries need a conducive environment that will allow them to be charged correctly. If the temperature swings, it could be harsh on this interior environment and prevent the device from performing as it should.
A few things to remember when storing your solar batteries are:
- Cold Climates – When you have solar batteries in a climate that reaches more frigid temperatures, you must protect against freezing fluids on the inside. The electrolytes and chemicals inside solar batteries will perform at a lower rate after they have been frozen or could fail to hold a charge again.
- Warm Climates – If you live in a climate with high heat or humidity, you should store it at a stable temperature to prevent the electrolytes inside the batteries from losing functionality. In addition, if solar batteries get too hot, they can emit a gas that could be toxic if inhaled.
- Wet Climates – Another place that could impact your solar batteries is a damp climate. If there’s too much moisture in the air, your batteries could fail to power from bad connections and possible rust on the terminals.
It would be best if you always kept an eye on how warm or hot the batteries stay. If you are keeping them in reserve, they must be stable to achieve the best results, and if the temperature swings wildly, you can expect a decline in battery operation.
How to Know if Your Solar Battery is Bad?
Knowing the signs of a bad battery is a fantastic way to save time and money. Knowing the things that make a battery lose its charge or signs of the surface of things wrong internally, you could also save your family’s life by preventing a fire.
Visually Inspecting a Solar Battery is a Good Idea
One of the first things you should do when checking over a battery is to check a few important places to ensure that there aren’t any catastrophic flaws. Though several companies make solar batteries, few designs make them all the same. So before diving into this job, get your safety gear on and in place.
A few places to check on the solar battery when looking it over are:
- Terminals – The terminals are the nodes where the battery connects to the device or your home system. You should check them for places where they could be broken away from the batteries or cracks in their bases.
- Sticky Places – Sticky places are another good thing to look for on or around the batteries. If parts of the battery have tacky places, tiny cracks could allow the material to get out of the inner chambers.
- Discoloration – Discoloration on the battery’s casing could mean that the chemicals on the inside have turned or have penetrated the outer lining of the box. Discolored places make it easy to tell what is going on beneath the surface of the battery.
- Bulges – Another great way to tell if there are problems with the battery is by checking the battery casing for lumps. When the chemical reaction inside goes astray, there could be physical changes like swelling visible on the surface of the battery.
Doing a visual check of the battery is an intelligent way to protect yourself and your family from the fallout of a battery failure. The loss of light and heat could only be the start of something destructive and could end with someone getting hurt. Do your due diligence to protect yourself from needless accidents.
Testing the Solar Battery is an Important Step
After you have reviewed the battery and everything is in order, the next step is to give them thorough testing. A good test will ensure that there aren’t problems with the battery that can’t be seen on the surface or felt.
A few ways to test the solar battery are:
- Deep Cycle Testing – A deep cycle test will show you how deep the depth of discharge is and how much life your battery has remaining. By sending a charge through the battery equivalent to a 50% recharging, a readout on the tester will show you what percentage of the battery remains.
- Voltage Reading – A voltage reading is another excellent test you should run on your solar batteries. It will tell you how much power is flowing; if there aren’t more than 10.5 volts, you could have a dead portion of the battery.
Testing your battery system is a task that should be done regularly. By checking the system, you stay ahead of any significant problems and can track down the parts to solve them or begin to piece together the resources to replace them. Being testy with your batteries also gives them a longer lifespan than unchecked and untested ones.
Knowing how long you have to replace your solar batteries is a blessing. The downside is that there could be catastrophic failures in the battery’s body or around the terminals where the power is transferred at any time. By doing routine maintenance, you can extend the life of your solar batteries and protect yourself from failures and bad terminals.
Knowing how to take care of a solar battery and test one for functionality will provide a good idea of how long it will last. In addition, taking time out of your schedule protects your family from having to buy new solar batteries every ten to fifteen years.