The typical solar power system used to generate household electricity is quite simple, as it consists of only a few basic components. Of course, the system features solar panels that gather the sun’s energy, an inverter that makes the energy that’s collected usable in a household setting, and the batteries that store the excess energy generated by your panels.
The batteries represent a crucial component in the system because not every day can be sunny, and your solar power storage determines how long you can power your home on dreary, overcast days.
Your solar panel battery bank may provide reliable service, but if you decide to go with Tubular or normal Lead Acid batteries, there are some maintenance tasks that must be handled to wiring the maximum lifespan from it. Batteries for solar energy storage in Kenya can be expensive, so it’s important to make sure they provide a full service life prior to replacement.
Fortunately, by following a few guidelines and performing maintenance tasks, you can make sure that you get the most from your solar battery bank. Keep reading to learn what you can do to prevent the premature demise of your critical solar batteries in Kenya.
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. The general guideline is to make sure you have enough storage for 3-5 days’ worth of power. While it may be tempting to add capacity beyond that, doing so can cause problems for your 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.
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.
Keep Batteries Charged
Another common mistake made with solar batteries 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.
Use Distilled Water
Most of the deep cycles batteries that are used for solar storage require water in their cells to keep them in optimal working order. While some tout proprietary battery filler formulations or electrolyte solutions, there’s nothing better to top of your batteries than regular distilled water. In fact, the addition of other liquids can damage your battery and cut its lifespan short.
Use only distilled water in your solar storage batteries.
Ventilate Your Storage
When batteries reach a nearly full charge, they can begin a phenomenon known as gassing or boiling. While that may sound disconcerting, gassing is a normal part of the battery usage and is actually good for a battery. It should occur on a daily basis, and the process involves the production of hydrogen gas and water.
Because of these byproducts, it’s important that you provide adequate ventilation for your battery storage bank, as hydrogen gas can be dangerous if it becomes concentrated in an enclosed space.
Equalize Your Batteries
Equalizing your batteries involves more than just rotating them within the string. Equalization is a process that uses a controlled overcharging of the battery bank to maintain each battery in the string.
Batteries in circuit may charge unevenly, and as a result, some of your batteries may never attain a full charge. That can be detrimental to battery life because it allows sulfation on the plates of your batteries. By equalizing, or overcharging, your battery bank, you ensure each battery gets a full charge. That can remove sulfation and churn your battery electrolyte mixture, which can become stratified and inefficient under regular usage.
A Note About System Design
That’s it for our maintenance tips, but it’s worth pointing out that maintenance is only effective if your system is well-designed and your battery bank has been properly sized.
In our experience, many cases of battery bank failure can be attributed to poor system design. People buy the wrong size battery bank or solar array, not taking into account key factors like temperature, local sun hours, and discharge depth. If you simply don’t have enough panels to fully charge your batteries, they’re destined to fail at some point.
The solar array, battery bank and inverter all need to be the proper sizes for the batteries to stay healthy. You also need enough amperage left over to charge the battery bank after accounting for loads that need to be powered (15 charging amps per 100ah is recommended for lead acid batteries).
Stuck on system design? Get in touch for a free consultation with one of our solar designers. We provide design advice that is tailored to your application, and our in-house tech team closely reviews proposed plans to avoid the common pitfalls outlined above.