Did you know that a plane has flown around the world without using a drop of fuel?
Solar panels and batteries, that’s how!
Battery technology has been advancing at a rapid rate. If you want to use electricity while the sun isn't shining, you'll need a battery to store excess energy produced during the day.
To get energy from your solar panels to your batteries to your house you need to set up a basic solar power system. Your solar panels will be connected to a regulator. That regulator both sends DC electricity to your house and to your batteries. The batteries can then send power to DC appliance and will need to be connected to an inverter to send power to AC appliances
At first, it sounds a little complicated, but once you break it down, it's not so tricky. Here’s why behind the system.
The Solar Regulator
The solar regulator controls the charge coming from the solar panels. If your panels are producing more electricity than you need and your batteries are reaching capacity, the regulator will stop the flow of current. This halts the charging process and is vital for the longevity of your batteries. If your batteries overcharge they will suffer from loss of electrolyte and be damaged.
On the other hand, if the batteries are drained below 30%, they could be permanently damaged and have a shorter life. The solar regulator will stop the flow of electricity from your battery using a 'Low Voltage Disconnect' feature.
Without a solar regulator, your battery would backfeed into the solar panels at night and drain completely. Yet another reason why you need a regulator.
Solar power systems use deep cycle batteries that release their charge over a long period of time. Unlike car batteries, they are designed to provide a smaller amount of current over a longer period and withstand recharging thousands of times. They can last up to 10 years.
Ampere hours (Ah) are used to rate the amount of current the battery can supply over several hours. There are many factors that go into the calculations of what Ah rate your system needs and at what speed it should discharge. Its best to consult a professional to get it right the first-time round.
As mentioned, these types of batteries should not be drained below 30% as their lifetime will be significantly reduced. You should plan for batteries that can store 3 or 4 days worth of electricity produced by your solar panels.
Solar panels convert the sun's rays into DC electricity that batteries can store. Not all appliances can run on DC electricity, some things, like your TV, need AC electricity. That's where the inverter comes in.
It will convert the DC electricity into AC electricity that can be used throughout your house. The conventional power grid provides AC electricity to your home, this is the cleanest type of electricity.
Why batteries are great but not always necessary
If you want to run 100% off-grid you will definitely need a battery system that can store power in times of excess. Or if you are living in an area where you cannot put electricity back into the grid, it makes sense to harvest your extra power and reduce waste with a battery system.
In some areas, you can plug your system into the municipal power grid and sell your excess electricity. When there are times that you need more power than your panels are producing, you can just draw electricity back from the grid. Most users find they break even and sometime make a profit like this. In this way, you are almost using the grid as a battery.
Now you know the basics
Now you understand the basic principles behind the battery system you can make an informed choice on whether to install one or not. Batteries can be dangerous to handle if they are incorrectly set up. Double check your calculations with an expert to make sure you never overload or drain your solar batteries.
We can help solve any problems you may have, just get in touch.