Switching to renewable energy is one of the very best things you can do for yourself, your family and the planet. When you switch to a renewable energy source you are basically liberating yourself from your usual energy providers and this way saving yourself huge amounts of money on your regular energy bills.
Today, there are plenty of options for those that want to go green and say goodbye to relying entirely on their energy providers. Setting up a solar energy system is perhaps the best choice. That means investing in a solar panel array, an inverter and the best solar batteries and then using that combination in order to power your most often-used appliances.
But you could likewise choose to use a geothermal heat-pump for your heating, you can use a wind turbine if your home doesn’t get much sun, or you could buy an electric car. There are so many options and if we all did just a few of these things, then we could drastically slow down the rate of global warming while saving ourselves thousands of dollars collectively.
But for most, choosing solar panels will remain the most obvious and preferable choice. This is a low-maintenance way to create a lot of extra energy. The only problem is that many solar energy systems don’t come with an in-built option for storing the energy that you collect. And that means that a lot of it is just going to go to waste. But don’t let that put you off: by finding the best solar battery for you, you can get around that issue entirely and store the energy you need in order to use at a later date!
What is a Solar Battery?
So, going green is a great thing to do. Choosing solar power is a logical way to do this. And getting a solar battery is paramount if you want to get the most from your solar energy system. But what is a solar battery? How does it work? And what can you do with it?
As mentioned, a typical solar panel array will create an electric current by allowing photons to excite electrons that have been arranged in a particular fashion. This creates ‘direct current’ which is then channelled through an inverter to create an alternating current that can power your home appliances.
The problem is that this energy can’t normally be stored by default. This is why many people have resorted to selling their ‘excess’ solar energy back to the grid. This can earn some money, but of course the energy company is still charging more for its energy than it will be willing to pay you: that’s how it makes a profit! And therefore, you are losing out by having to siphon off wasted energy.
And this is worse than you might think at first: consider the fact that the sun will be highest in the sky during the afternoon while most of us are at work! The house is empty and no one is using any appliances and when you get home and can actually use your solar panel array, it will be evening and the sun will be fading fast. Not so good!
The point of find the best solar batteries for your home, is that you can then use the solar panel to charge that battery and then use that same energy later on.
Choosing the Best Solar Batteries
So, with that in mind, how do you go about finding a solar battery? What factors are there to consider?
What makes a great solar charger?
First, consider the specifications. And the first specification to keep in mind is the capacity and the power – which are not the same things.
The capacity is the maximum amount of energy that your battery can store. This says nothing for how high the energy output is, but rather tells you how much juice you can hold at once. This is important because if you store a large battery with power, you’ll then be able to run your appliances such as computers etc., from it for a set duration of time. This number is normally provided as kilowatt hours and the higher the number, the more ‘full charges’ you’ll get for a laptop and the longer you’ll be able to run your fridge.
At the same time, most of the best home solar batteries are designed to be stackable. That means that you can use multiple batteries at once to maximize the amount of storage capacity you’ll have access to. This is good news because it means that you can increase the number of batteries you have as your needs increase.
While the capacity is an important number to look out for, it won’t tell you anything about power – and this is arguably even more important. That’s because the power tells you the output, which in turn reflects just what kind of technology you’ll be able to run off of your battery and how many products you can run at once.
You can have the largest battery in the world, but if it doesn’t generate enough power, then it won’t be able to turn on that gaming PC! This tells you the amount of energy that comes out of it at once.
The power rating of your battery will normally be given in kilowatts. The higher the capacity, the bigger the items and the more the of them at once. And don’t worry about batteries being ‘too powerful’. This is never an issue, seeing as you will normally have a transformer somewhere in your system to scale the energy back down to the amount needed for the given appliance.
Depth of Discharge
Also known as DoD, depth of discharge tells you how much charge stays in the battery at any time. Many people don’t realize that batteries like this are designed to never completely lose their charge. If they do, then you’ll drastically shorten the battery’s useable life due to the way that the chemical composition works.
The DoD of the battery then tells you the amount of a batteries capacity that has been used. So if you have a 10kWh battery with a DoD of 90 percent, that means you shouldn’t drain the battery down below 9kWh.
Most of the best solar batteries will have built in mechanisms to prevent you from discharging below the DoD. However, this is still a useful number to keep in mind, because it tells you just how much of that capacity is actually useful to you! If you are interested in finding the best solar charger for your needs you can also check the review on our website.
Round Trip Efficiency
The round trip efficiency tells you the amount of energy that can be used as a percentage of the amount of energy that it took to store it. Okay, so I’ll give you a moment to read that over a few times.
In other words, if you were to feed in 5kW to your battery, that doesn’t mean you’ll have 5kW that you can then feed back out. That would be a perfectly efficient system, which we just haven’t invented yet! The very process of storing energy actually takes a little bit of energy itself, and therefore it’s more likely that 5kW of energy in would mean 4kW energy out. That’s an 80% roundtrip efficiency.
The higher the round-trip efficiency, the quicker your device will charge and the more power you’ll be able to get out of your solar panels.
The tip here is to look at where in your system the ‘bottle neck’ is. If you have highly efficient solar panels but it still takes you days to generate enough power to boot up your phone, then it might be that the roundtrip efficiency of your solar battery is not very good. That is the ‘bottle neck’!
Moving on from the specifications now, something else to consider when looking for solar batteries for solar panels, is the battery life. Each time you charge and drain your battery within the DoD, this is considered a cycle. And most batteries are going to have a roughly set number of cycles before they eventually run out of juice and stop holding their power.
This happens in phones and in all manner of other devices. But it’s a big consideration when you’re talking about something as large an as much of an investment as a solar battery for your panels.
That’s why you should look for a solar battery that has a warranty. This might be written in the number of cycles (say 5,000 cycles) or it might be written as a certain amount of time (10 years). It might say that you should have 70% of the original capacity within 10 years for instance. After that time, you should still have no less than 70% of the original capacity you started with.
If the solar battery doesn’t come with a warranty, then this is more of a gamble and something you should consider. Perhaps the question to ask in this scenario is ‘why not’?
There are a number of reputable companies that are known for making the best solar batteries. These companies come with a history, with a reputation and brand to protect and with experience in the industry. You can read some reviews and check for news about the company in question and make sure that it’s one that you ought to trust.
Note that there are many smaller start-ups that are also selling solar battery products today however. You might even find one on a crowdfunding site! This isn’t especially a bad thing, just know that there is more of a risk involved and that the price should certainly reflect this.
Note as well that different batteries for solar will come with different build qualities and different sizes. Some are huge monstrosities that will take up a gigantic amount of space in your attic and be a real eyesore any time you go in!
Others though will be much more svelte and easy to live with. This isn’t a huge issue, but you do need to consider how much space you have available in your home, where precisely the batteries are going to live and how they will attach. Is this a battery that you can mount to a wall? Is it safe to have it so near to the insulation in your loft?
Consider too that you might find a number of different ‘useful features’ for your batteries depending on the make and model. Some will have LED readouts to show the percentage of the charge for instance. Others might include menu systems and useful controls while others still might give you useful information about the amount of energy you are using. Note that!
Finally, consider the price! You will likely have a budget that you can afford, but try to consider the price while balancing it with the other factors on this list. And remember that this should be an investment with a clear ROI. If you spend a little bit more now on a good solar panel battery, then you will in theory be able to save more energy before you need to buy another one and thus it might prove to be cheaper in the long run.
Types of Solar Panel battery
There are numerous different types of solar panel battery and the type you get will ultimately impact on your performance and the price.Here, we will list three of the best solar battery options:
Lead acid solar batteries are one of the oldest and most reliable forms of battery. These have been used for off-grid energy systems for many decades now and this will put many at ease. That said, these batteries do have relatively shorter lifespans and lower DoDs when compared with other types of batteries.
This is offset slightly however by the lower price. If you are looking to get set up with a quick and simple solar energy system in your home, then you may conclude that this is the easiest and quickest way to do that.
Lithium ion batteries are the kinds we find in smartphones and laptops. These use a lithium ion chemical composition and are considerable lighter and more compact than the competition – hence their use in smaller devices. They have a higher DoD and better lifespan than lead acid too. On the downside though, they are also considerably more expensive.
This is one of the newer options for solar panel batteries but is making a splash (no pun intended) in the industry. That’s because they are very light and don’t include heavy metals in their composition. Instead, they use, well, saltwater, in order to hold a charge via electrolytes. These types of batteries are also better for the environment and can be disposed of more easily.
The only downside is that these are the newest options right now and as such are relatively ‘untested’.
More Ways to Store Solar Energy in Your Home
While getting a solar panel array and a solar battery for your home is one option to keep your lights on without paying the bills, you can also look into a number of other options for storing solar energy too.
For instance, you might consider a solar generators. Solar generators do the job of a solar panel array and a solar panel battery, except they are all built into a single, semi-portable unit. Not only does this mean they can be used on camping trips and worksites, it also means they can be used much more cheaply in your home and with no need to cover your roof with solar panels. This is also very useful for those that don’t have enough space on their roof, or that live in shared accommodation. Stored energy can later be used to power up the best solar lights for your personal needs.
Another option is to use a solar charger. Now, a solar charger may conjure images of a small solar panel and a power bank that you use to charge your phone when you’re out. But the truth is that a solar charger can be significantly bigger, sometimes providing enough energy to charge two laptops at once on the go. If you have a long enough cable and a waterproof product, then you can place this outside and use it to fill a big battery, or just to recharge your laptops and phones even while using them!
How to Make Your Battery Go Further
Solar Panel Angle
As well as getting the best solar batteries, making other changes to your solar energy system can also improve efficiency. One of the simplest is to make sure you are adjusting the angle throughout the year in order to get the most direct sunlight possible.
Using Energy Efficient Products
Whether it’s energy efficient light bulbs or whole washing machines and appliances with higher efficiency ratings, making sure that you use the most efficient products will mean that your energy bill is less at the end of the month. If it’s something you use on a regular basis too then this can really add up.
And if you’re making the effort to use a solar panel array and a solar battery, then why not go the extra mile and make sure that the appliances you’re using are only using as little energy as possible? Why spend all that time looking at things like solar panel angles when your toaster is unnecessarily guzzling power. If you are interested in finding another product to make your life easier you can check our guide for the best solar watches.
Turn Off at the Mains
Speaking of which, why keep appliances on when you aren’t using them? While there is some dispute over whether leaving a smartphone plugged in will cost energy (it shouldn’t – most smartphones can detect when their batteries area full), there’s simply no need. Even if it’s just a matter of not powering an LED… every little helps!
Walking/Cycling/Getting the Bus
Driving to work every day is something that can add up to be a lot more expensive than you realise and this is down to not only the cost of petrol but also the toll it takes on your car (meaning more services) and the cost of parking (for some of us anyway).
By walking or cycling then it’s possible to completely remove the cost of commuting while other green options such as using public transport or lift shares can also save you a lot of money. At the same time this is one of the examples that also has other benefits as it can help improve your fitness as well.
Being Water Efficient
It’s not just energy efficiency that you should be concerned with if you’re trying to go green but also efficiency with other things like your water. By making sure you don’t keep your taps running while doing our teeth and generally avoiding wasting water we can reduce our water bill and at the same time use less energy to clean the water that’s there.
Running an Organic Garden
If you’re really buying into the whole green lifestyle then you’ll want to set up your own organic garden which will allow you to give something back to the environment in the form of fresher oxygen and habitats and food for local wildlife. Running an organic garden will also help save you money though too as it will enable you to grow your own fruit and veg and thus reduce your monthly shopping costs.
Turning Down the Heating
Try turning down the heating just a single degree. I can almost guarantee that you won’t feel it and it will nevertheless be enough to help you save hundreds of dollars per year. Amazing right?
Turn Down the Brightness
Did you know that turning down the brightness on your TV actually saves energy? It makes perfect sense when you think about it, but most of us don’t consider that fact. Likewise, turning down the volume can actually use less energy too.
But how about simply using your appliances a little less? Instead of being dependent on TV and computers to have a good time, why not try just reading a book, kicking a ball around, to relaxing outdoors? These are all great examples of fun activities that are genuinely free – and much better for the planet!