About Solar Batteries
Storage batteries are the heart of all off-grid and back-up wind/PV or inverter electrical systems. Their function is to balance the outgoing electrical requirements with the incoming power supply. They offer a reliable source of electricity which can be used when solar or wind power is not available. Batteries are able to provide short term power output many times higher than the charging source output.
What is a Sealed Maintenance Free Battery?
Sealed batteries are known as maintenance free batteries. They are made with vents that (usually) cannot be removed. A standard auto or marine maintenance free battery is sealed, but not fully leak proof. Sealed batteries are not totally sealed since all batteries must allow gas to vent during charging. There are sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries that are non-spillable. Please read the information on our SLA batteries, see AGM and Gel batteries below. What are some of the major types of lead acid batteries? Batteries are divided in two ways, by application (what they are used for) and construction (how they are built). The major applications are automotive, marine, and deep-cycle. Deep-cycle includes solar electric (PV), backup power, and RV and boat "house" batteries. The major construction types are flooded (wet), gelled, and AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat). AGM batteries are also sometimes called "starved electrolyte" or "dry", because the fiberglass mat is only 95% saturated with Sulfuric acid and there is no excess liquid. Flooded may be standard, with removable caps, or the so-called "maintenance free" (that means they are designed to die one week after the warranty runs out). All gelled are sealed and a few are "valve regulated", which means that a tiny valve keeps a slight positive pressure. Nearly all AGM batteries are sealed valve regulated (commonly referred to as "VRLA" - Valve Regulated Lead-Acid). Most valve regulated are under some pressure - 1 to 4 psi at sea level
What are deep cycle batteries?
Deep-cycle batteries typically feature thick plates with a high-density active material. The thick battery plates allow for reserve energy to be stored deep within the battery plate and released during slow discharge such as trolling or electronic instrument use. The high-density active material remains within the batteries' plate/grid structure longer, resisting the normal degradation found in cycling conditions. They are typically used where the battery is discharged to great extent and then recharged such as a battery powered trolling motor on a fishing boat How to connect a battery in Series? The positive terminal of the first battery is connected to the negative terminal of the second battery, the positive terminal of the second is connected to the negative of the third, etc. The voltage of the assembled battery is the sum of the battery voltages of the individual batteries. So the batteries are connected: + to - to + to - to + to -, etc. The capacity of the battery is unchanged.
How to connect a battery in Parallel?
The positive terminal of the first battery is connected to the positive terminal of the second battery, the positive terminal of the second is connected to the positive of the third, etc. and The negative terminal of the first battery is connected to the negative terminal of the second battery, the negative terminal of the second is connected to the negative of the third, etc. So the batteries are connected: + to + to + and - to - to -. In this configuration, the capacity is the sum of the capacities of the individual batteries and voltage is unchanged. For example, if you take 5 6V 10AH batteries and connect the batteries in series, you would end up with a battery array that is 30 Volts and 10AH. If you connect the batteries in parallel, you would end up with a battery array that is 6 Volts and 50AH. By the way, this is how ordinary auto batteries are made. 6 2volt cells are put in series to give 12v battery and the 6 cells are just enclosed in one case. Many ni-cad batteries are done the same way.
What is a AGM or Absorbed Glass Mat Battery?
The newer type of sealed non spillable maintenance free valve regulated battery uses "Absorbed Glass Mats", or AGM separators between the plates. This is a very fine fiber Boron-Silicate glass mat. These type of batteries have all the advantages of gelled, but can take much more abuse. These are also called "starved electrolyte.” Just like the Gel batteries, the AGM Battery will not leak acid if broken. What are the advantages of the AGM battery? The advantages of AGM batteries are no maintenance, sealed against fumes, hydrogen, leakage, or non-spilling even if they are broken, and can survive most freezes. AGM batteries are "recombinant" – which means the Oxygen and Hydrogen recombine inside the battery. These use gas phase transfer of oxygen to the negative plates to recombine them back into water while charging and prevent the loss of water through electrolysis. The recombining is typically 99+% efficient, so almost no water is lost. Charging voltages for most AGM batteries are the same as for a standard type battery so there is no need for special charging adjustments or problems with incompatible chargers or charge controls. Since the internal resistance is extremely low, there is almost no heating of the battery even under heavy charge and discharge currents. AGM batteries have a very low self-discharge rate (from 1% to 3% per month). So they can sit in storage for much longer periods without charging. The plates in AGM's are tightly packed and rigidly mounted, and will withstand shock and vibration better than any standard battery.
What is a Gel Cell Battery?
A gel battery design is typically a modification of the standard lead acid automotive or marine battery. A gelling agent is added to the electrolyte to reduce movement inside the battery case. Many gel batteries also use one way valves in place of open vents, this helps the normal internal gasses to recombine back into water in the battery, reducing gassing. "Gel Cell" batteries are non-spillable even if they are broken. Gel cells must be charged at a lower voltage (C/20) than flooded or AGM to prevent excess gas from damaging the cells. Fast charging them on a conventional automotive charger may permanently damage a Gel Battery.
Do batteries self-discharge when not in use?
All batteries, regardless of their chemistry, self-discharge. The rate of self-discharge depends both on the type of battery and the storage temperature the batteries are exposed to. However, for a good estimate, wet flooded deep cycle batteries self-discharge approximately 4% per week at 80°F.
Is there a maximum temperature for charging lead acid batteries?
When charging lead acid batteries, the temperature should not exceed 120°F. At this point the battery should be taken off charge and allowed to cool before resuming the charge process.
Are lead acid batteries recyclable?Lead acid batteries are 100% recyclable. Lead is the most recycled metal in the world today. The plastic containers and covers of old batteries are neutralized, reground and used in the manufacture of new battery cases. The electrolyte can be processed for recycled waste water uses. In some cases, the electrolyte is cleaned and reprocessed and sold as battery grade electrolyte. In other instances, the sulfate content is removed as Ammonia Sulfate and used in fertilizers. The separators are often used as a fuel source for the recycling process.