A good solar panel system is a great way to harvest clean, free renewable energy. Whether you want to use it to go completely off-grid or as an add-on to your existing on-grid setup, you can be sure you will see savings on your energy bills almost immediately. In a nutshell, solar panel systems work by harvesting energy from the sun and transforming it into electricity that can be used to power our everyday appliances such as the TV, radio, or light bulb.
A brief history of solar power
Although solar technologies have technically been around since the 1800s, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that they began to be used residentially and commercially on rooftops. It was around this time that photovoltaic power stations emerged as well. Since then, solar power has just got better and better. It’s now the most popular form of renewable energy generation worldwide. And, as well as being fantastically friendly to the environment, solar power systems are now even cheaper than ever to have installed in your home.
Why go solar?
There are many reasons as to why people switch to solar energy. One reason as to why people switch to solar is that it’s a much greener way of producing energy. Fossil fuel burning raises serious environmental concerns. More than 20 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere each year due to fossil fuel burning. Add this to all the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that are released and you have one deadly atmosphere. All of these emissions contribute largely to global warming and are extremely bad for both us and the environment.
Another reason people decide to make the switch to solar energy in order to save money. Although the initial installation will cost you, after that you get the benefit of free—or at least reduced cost—electricity. Having a solar power system installed with energy storage it will also help you become less dependent on the grid for electricity and leaves you better prepared in times of blackouts.
Why you need a solar storage battery system
Solar power is great for all of the reasons mentioned above and more, but there’s no point in harvesting all that free energy if there’s nowhere to store the excess. That’s where solar storage battery systems come in. With this type of system, you can happily harvest as much free energy as you wish without the worry that it will go to waste or that you need to use it unnecessarily just because it’s there.
When using a battery for energy storage, such as lithium-ion batteries, any excess energy that’s harvested can be stored for use later when it’s really needed. For example, solar panels only produce energy when it’s sunny. So, if it’s dark or cloudy and you don’t have a solar storage battery bank in place you will have no choice but to purchase electricity from the grid during these times. With a battery bank in place to store that excess energy, you never have to worry about this and will even be saved during times of power outages.
What to look for when buying a solar storage battery
While there are comprehensive solar power systems out there that come with a battery included, not all of them will. And, if you’ve already got a solar power system in place but just want to add a battery to it you need to know what to look for before you start. The following will help you with that:
- Size: There’s no standard size when it comes to solar batteries. They can be as small as a breadbin, up to the size of a small desk. Generally, the larger the battery, the more energy it can store.
- How it’s mounted: This is another important feature to look out for. While some are floor-standing models, others need to be wall-mounted. It really just depends on your setup as to which will be better for you.
- Capacity: Most solar batteries are lithium-ion batteries and will have a capacity ranging between 1 kWh and 14kWh. You want to ensure that you choose a battery that’s sufficient to meet your needs. However, be aware that the larger the capacity, the more expensive the battery.
- Warranty: Any solar battery should come with a warranty of at least 5 years, although the most popular solar batteries available tend to offer 10. Be wary of any that come with less than 5 years or none at all.
Solar storage battery maintenance
Once you’ve found the perfect solar storage battery for your setup or had a whole new solar storage system installed, you’ll want to ensure you get the most of it. The best way to protect your investment is to look after it. Solar storage batteries don’t take that much looking after, but there are things you can do to help extend their life. Here’s a few of them:
- Keep your battery charged. When batteries frequently run flat they become less efficient. If they are left unattended for too long, they can become damaged and no longer work.
- Store your battery in a dry, safe place where it will be protected from the elements.
- Unless you have a sealed battery you will need to ensure the water level remains topped up. Only ever use distilled water to do this as adding battery additives to it can do more harm than good.
- Rotation. If you’re using multiple batteries in a bank, be sure to rotate them periodically. Those that are situated near the middle don’t tend to get as good a charge as those on the outer edges.
- Avoid very high/very low temperatures. Solar batteries don’t perform well in very hot or very cold temperatures. The hotter they become, they quicker they self-discharge. Similarly, if they get too cold the acid inside expands, damaging the battery plates and container.