When it comes to setting up your own off-grid solar system, there are typically three solutions to the question of how to store all that energy: Lithium Ion, Sealed Lead-Acid, and Lead Carbon. Each presenting a mixture of pros and cons, it can be tricky to decide which will best suit the specific needs of each system. Here we will try to highlight some of the strengths, weaknesses, and ideal uses for each of these forms of battery.
Firstly, with the Lead Acid Gel Deep Cycle Battery, we have an affordable workhorse. Designed with a greater Depth of Discharge than most GEL batteries, and a focus on high capacity, this battery is ideal for smaller scale off-grid solar power systems, such as baches and cabins. Higher temperature resistance also makes these sealed Lead-Acid batteries the best choice for anyone anticipating extreme weather, with an effective discharge range from -40° C ~60° C.
With a lifespan of 3-8 years, depending on the specific battery and usage, this battery has an estimated cycle life of 1422 cycles at 50% D.o.D. This is a very affordable option to use while waiting for other battery options to develop and drop in price.
Designed specifically for high capacity and long term use, the deep cycle Lead Carbon Battery is a more expensive option but surpasses the Gel design in terms of longevity. With a lifespan of almost 1000 cycles at 100% discharge, and 4880 at the standard 50% discharge, the Deep Cycle battery is designed with a 8–10-year life expectancy but can be run for as long as 12 years under ideal conditions.
With heavy duty use in mind, the Deep Cycle Lead Carbon battery is perfectly suited to everyday use to make the most use of the excellent storage capacity of the battery.
Lithium-Iron batteries, sometimes called LiFePO4 for their chemical makeup, are by no small margin the most expensive option we have available. By no means a worse investment, lithium-ion batteries are designed to operate under heavy use, long term, with no maintenance. As such, they make back the initial expense over their much longer lifespan, when compared to Lead batteries. They’re also significantly lighter, making them a great option for weight-sensitive situations. Learn more about our Lithium batteries here.
The strengths and weaknesses of each of these batteries lends them each to particular uses. The Gel Deep Cycle battery, as the cheapest option available, is suited to small scale solar operations. These smaller scale systems will avoid overly taxing the lower charge available to these batteries and get the most use out of them in the long run. As a more heavy-duty option, the Lead Carbon battery is suitable for use in off-grid vacation homes, or even in remote systems with industrial application. However, when the requirements are as high as that of a full time, off-grid residence, Lithium-Ion batteries can become a more economical solution, for their longevity and effective charge. We offer the GEL batteries as standard in all our kits to ensure they remain an affordable option, though all kits can be upgraded to use our other batteries.