The solar battery lifespan is a very essential factor that the manufacturers put into consideration to ensure their solar batteries are reliable, durable and facilitate the production of energy. Solar batteries in Kenya have many factors and technical details that need to be taken into consideration when sizing up the backup required for a system. Battery system sizing also allows for a long life of service.
What Factor Could Affect the Lifespan of a Battery?
There are different types of batteries, where some are more durable compared to others despite having the same source of power. There are 3 main factors which may affect the durability of solar batteries in Kenya.
The Cyclic Life
The lifespan of solar battery can easily be determined through its cyclic life or the number of use cycles it has. For example, a lead-acid battery which is flooded is expected to provide 300 to 700 cycles. A GEL cell battery is capable of providing 500 to 5000 cycles. Lithium batteries are capable of offering 2000 cycles.
Depth of Discharge (DoD)
The depth of discharge refers to the extent to which a solar battery in Kenya can be used relatively to its total capacity. Batteries go down as they are discharged or charged. This, therefore, lowers their ability to store more energy. A battery that comes alongside a nominal capacity of 200 kWh at 60 % DoD will have a remaining charge of 80 kWh
A battery attains higher chemical activity when kept under high temperatures. This makes the solar batteries less efficient in colder climates. However, the cyclic life of a battery decreases with the increase in temperature.
How to Increase the Battery Lifespan?
Despite the design of the solar battery, it may not provide longer services if not properly maintained. The following are steps involved in extending its lifespan.
1. Limit Battery Count
While it’s perfectly fine to string together a few batteries to increase your storage capacity, make an effort to keep the number of batteries in your bank as low as possible. While it may be tempting to add capacity, doing so can cause problems for your battery storage bank. Additional batteries require additional connections, and each connection in a string of batteries increases resistance in the circuit. That can lead to uneven charging and stray currents that prevent equalization of the charge across the battery bank. Get enough battery storage, but don’t get more than you need.
2. Rotate Batteries Routinely
The batteries in your bank need to be rotated within the circuit on a regular basis in order to provide the maximum effective lifespan. Because of the possibility of uneven charging, particularly in larger battery banks, it’s a good idea to regularly swap the batteries from the middle of the string to the ends of the string.
3. Keep Batteries Charged
Another common mistake made with solar batteries in Kenya that can cut their lifespan short is allowing them to become completely discharged and failing to recharge them for long periods of time. Batteries that are left uncharged long term can be damaged, making them less efficient at best and completely worthless at worst. Make sure that they are constantly connected to a charging source, and that your rotate batteries regularly to ensure they are all receiving adequate charge.
4. Allow gassing or boiling
Gassing or “boiling” is normal for batteries and critical part of proper charging. Your batteries should gas on a regular basis, preferably daily. Batteries will begin gassing at approximately 14.1Vdc(12V nominal system), 28.2 Vdc (24V) or 56.4 Vdc(48V). This process will produce hydrogen and water, therefore, it is very important for your battery bank to have adequate ventilation to avoid hydrogen buildup.
5. Battery Equalization
Equalization is a controlled overcharge of your batteries. Overcharging sounds bad, but it can actually be very good for your batteries. Since, individual cells within your batteries can be unevenly charged over time through the process of normal cycling. This prevents some cells from reaching a full-charge on a regular basis, which can allow sulfation to build up on the plates. Equalization provides an opportunity to return all the cells to full charge, as a result, knock some of the sulfation off the plates through the process of gassing. Furthermore, gassing can help to mix your electrolyte to prevent it from stratifying. Consult your inverter or charge controller manual for instructions on how to equalize and refer to your battery manufacturer for proper equalization instructions.
6. Make use of the Appropriate Solar Batteries
Batteries sized appropriately for the application will ensure a long lifespan. Lithium batteries are starting to build up steam since they have a long lifespan and are safer and conducive for the environment. However, GEL cell batteries are still the battery of choice because of their proven life, typically five to seven years in the field when sized properly. GEL cell batteries are still a fraction of the cost of Lithium battery technology, but they are starting to become more and more cost-effective as technologies improve and their share of the market increases. Make sure the kind of battery you use has a voltage rating of 12.8V or 25.6V to make sure it lasts longer.
Questions? Consult a solar expert today.
Interested in our Solar Power installation services in Kenya? Call us today on 0715 020605. Alternatively, you can email us and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible. We install solar power systems in Nairobi, Kiambu, Ngong, Kajiado, Kitengela, Athi River, Machakos, Coast Province, Rift Valley, North Eastern, Central, Nyanza and countrywide for domestic and commercial clients.