Solar Battery Common Failures and Warranties
In this post, we will answer the following questions:
- Why do residential, commercial, and industrial solar owners need to use solar batteries with solar panels?
- How do solar batteries work throughout their lifetime?
- What often goes wrong/common failures of solar batteries?
- What do you need to compare when researching battery warranties?
Why are solar batteries important for residential, commercial, and industrial solar owners?
Around the clock electricity
When you have a solar array with no battery storage in place, at night or whenever solar power is not being generated, power must be drawn from the grid, i.e., the utility company. This makes energy more costly, and when demand is high, you pay more than if you had stored your own energy collected during the day. Instead of depending on the grid for power, solar battery storage allows you to store and use your own electricity around the clock. This is especially helpful for homes and businesses running in more remote areas or where power failures occur more frequently.
Savings on energy costs
With a battery, we gain more control of our electrical utility bills. Battery storage helps us make use of cheap energy that has been collected and allows us to save it for later, assuring that our rates remain low and that our monthly expenditure is not impacted by peak demand hours and external energy issues. In certain circumstances, you may leverage net metering to earn energy credits by selling excess power back to the main grid during peak demand.
A solar battery storage system can improve control of the power your system generates, offering a higher degree of visibility and accuracy. This is especially helpful for businesses that need to watch energy expenses and solar system operations closely. These devices allow you to monitor the amount of energy a home or facility generates and consumes in real-time. More about active monitoring here. It also provides insight into the data necessary for strategically shifting energy loads.
Having a solar battery storage system keeps us safer in times of energy distress: when power is out, during a storm, or in any event that shuts off power. Our solar battery stores the additional energy generated by our photovoltaic modules, giving us a backup charging station. This solar battery bank is required with an off-power system to provide electricity at night and in bad or extreme weather conditions.
How do solar batteries work throughout their lifetime?
Solar batteries have become an increasingly logical addition to harness and collect solar energy due to the increasing cost of electric bills throughout the nation. Extra energy not used at the time of collection can be stored for future use. A solar photovoltaic system’s surplus energy is placed into the battery. This implies that any excess energy may be stored on-site and used when panels aren’t producing enough during the night or during extremely cloudy weather.
Installation of the battery bank and solar panels can be conducted simultaneously. If there is already a solar panel system in place, a battery can be added to the current system.
There is a grid approval process for adding a battery, similar to a solar panel installation. The process doesn’t have to be repeated once installed, and the battery becomes fully operational, i.e., ready to store power.
During hours of sunshine, the solar system powers the battery instantaneously. When the evening comes, and solar panels cease generating power, solar batteries begin powering homes, offices, and industrial facilities.
Once the power is exhausted from the battery bank, the home or facility will immediately start drawing power from the main power grid. The capacity of the solar battery defines the overall charging period. A 12-volt solar battery, for instance, can require around 5 to 8 hours to charge completely.
What are common issues with battery storage?
On occasion, solar batteries fail before their expected life. Failures happen, and sometimes there are warning signs. Here are common failures that occur with solar batteries, shortening their life expectancy.
Complete discharge of the battery
Each solar battery has a limited number of cycles (cycles represent the charge and discharge of the solar battery). This cycle is affected by the battery’s depth of charging and depth of discharge (DOD). A very high DOD is one of the leading causes of solar battery failure.
Heat and over-charging
Overcharging or overheating batteries can lead to battery cell deformation and deterioration, causing plates to come into contact in this condition. This often happens when solar panels produce more current than their rated voltage without the proper control equipment. As a result, sulfation can occur – the formation or build-up of lead sulfate crystals on the surface and in the pores of the active material of the batteries’ lead plates. Over time this build-up can lead to:
- shorter running times between charges
- shorter battery life
- longer charging times
- ultimate battery failure
A solar battery must be placed in a stable position. Vibrations can cause connections to slip, the casing to break, and internal parts to be damaged.
Storing moist cells for longer than the manufacturer recommends encourages sulfation, which reduces solar batteries’ capacity and lifespan.
Batteries are frequently made for a particular purpose. If the battery is not made for a specific use, it may function or last as long as it should.
Solar Battery Warranty Features to Compare
Batteries account for such a large portion of PV system expenses. Therefore, it is critical to examine the manufacturer’s warranty and standards to verify the eligibility of a warranty claim.
The warranty features to consider when choosing a battery for your home include:
- Manufacturer’s Warranty – standard time the manufacturer covers the battery
- Number of Cycles – how many times a battery will charge and drain (1 cycle)
- End of Warranty Capacity – a guarantee that the battery will hold a certain amount of capacity throughout the warranty
- Warranty with Solar Insure – Solar warranty that also covers battery storage coming soon!
- Output Power – the higher the wattage rating, the greater amount of power your solar installation will produce
- Bankability – how does the company protect customers in case business doors close
Solar Battery Storage Warranty Comparison Chart
Below is a comparison of features for major solar battery brands on the market today: Enphase Encharge, SolarEdge 9.7KWH, Tesla Powerwall 2, and Generac PWRcell.
Chtita, S., Derouich, A., El Ghzizal, A. and Motahhir, S., 2021. An improved control strategy for charging solar batteries in off-grid photovoltaic systems. Solar Energy, 220, pp.927-941.