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How Does a Solar Battery Work?
Solar batteries are the arteries of any efficient solar panel
system. In some cases, they are like Kryptonite is to Superman,
without it, powerless. They store the energy produced by the
sun and solar panels allowing it to be used as needed through
an inverter. So how does a solar battery work?
A quick explanation of solar panel
systems might be helpful to start with.
There are several types of solar panel systems. Some require
a battery back up (or bank) and others are directly wired from
solar panels to the solar powered device. In regards to the solar
powered systems that require or utilize a battery, there are a
few different types:
- 12-volt DC used for RV lighting, boat lighting, and appliances.
- Inverter battery systems that are capable of converting 12, 24, or
48-volt DC battery voltage into a 120-volt AC that can operate regular
household appliances such as a stove, refrigerator, water heater, TV, etc.
- Hybrid solar power systems utilizes several energy providing components
such as a battery bank powered by solar panels, solar array, generators,
and wind turbine used to provide energy on a 24/7 basis.
When it comes to solar battery banks, each is designed for a
specific charge or discharge level. Some are manufactured wet
cells where are manufactured sealed or gel cells, each coming
with their own set of requirements. For example, golf cart batteries
come in a 6-volt wet cell with thick plates that are designed for
hours of high volume discharge with a fast recharge and car batteries
come with a thinner plate and their high volume discharge last only
seconds and requires a longer period to recharge. When using a
battery bank system make sure to use the appropriate size and
quality of battery for the amount of solar
power it will be required to store. They should be a deep cycle
battery unlike the car battery, which is a shallow cycle. Using too
small of a battery can be very dangerous.
When solar powered systems require a way to store the energy
produced the battery comes into play. In some situations, depending upon
the power company in your area, one can connect to the electrical
grid of the power company and sell any excess power your solar
panels generate. Mind you, in the majority of the cases the power
company is happy to purchase your excess energy but at a much lower
rate then what they are selling it to you.
When using batteries there is maintenance required and they do
not last the 20 years like your solar panels can. They will need
to be stored in a safe enclosed location that is non-metallic and
It is possible to make your own battery bank with materials you
can easily obtain from local hardware store or electronic store and
some things you already have in your possession such as an electric
stove, glass jar, table salt, and tap water. Items needed from a
possible hardware or electronics store are a sheet of copper
flashing, alligator clips, a micro-ammeter that reads the currents,
sand paper, wire brush, drill, and sheet metal shears. Is it wise
to attempt to make a battery large enough to be used as a battery
bank to store your excess energy, possibly if you have the right
technology at hand and know what you are doing. Be forwarned: knowing
how a solar battery works is one thing, but building one yourself is
entirely another! A faulty battery is highly dangerous, so seek
qualified help if you need it.