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There’s no doubt that having a solar panel system is a great long-term investment for a variety of reasons. In the long run, you will end up saving money on energy costs, not to mention that you’re doing the environment a huge favor. With that being said, a solar panel system is quite an investment to make, and they don’t come cheap to set up.
One of the things you are going to need if you have solar panels installed in your RV, especially if you are living off the grid or dry camping, is solar batteries for your solar system. In other words, you need something to store all of that solar energy which your panel system collects throughout the day. You won’t always use all of that solar energy right away as it comes in, so to make sure that it does not go to waste, you need deep cycle solar batteries for solar system.
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Top 5 Solar Batteries For Solar Power System
Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose Your Best Battery For Solar System
Choosing the right batteries for your solar systems is so important because different batteries have varying levels of energy efficiency, storage capabilities, and cost effectiveness. There are some challenges related to choosing the right solar battery, such as ease of installation, cost, storage space, battery lifespan and more. Let’s get right to it and figure out how to choose the best battery for a solar panel system.
Different Types Of Solar Batteries
Before we do anything else here, we want to help you understand what to look for when choosing a solar battery. A part of this is knowing the differences between the varying kinds of batteries to use. Let’s take a look at the 4 types of solar batteries that you can use for your solar panel system.
The flooded lead acid battery is one of the more common types of solar batteries. This kind of battery is one of the most common ones used for off-grid setups. These batteries are also known as wet cell batteries.
Some of the benefits associated with these batteries are that they have a fairly low upfront cost, they are quite safe, and fairly reliable too.
When it comes to drawbacks, flood lead acid batteries tend to be very large and take up a lot of space, plus they also tend to suffer from corrosion.
This type of battery needs a fair bit of maintenance and monitoring, as they need to be kept in a well-ventilated environment, and they need to be kept upright to prevent leaking. If you don’t mind some regular maintenance and monitoring, this is one of the best options to go with, but if you don’t want to engage in regular monitoring, the AGM battery may be a better choice for you. Trojan is one of the few well-known brand that still carry flooded lead acid batteries.
AGM (Sealed Lead Acid) Batteries
The next type of battery to go with is the AGM battery, which stands for Absorbent Glass Matt. This is a type of lead acid battery, but one where the electrolytes are absorbed into a glass matt. The plates in an AGM battery can be flat or they can be wound into a spiral.
One of the advantages is that this type has a lower internal resistance than flood lead batteries, plus they are better at handling temperatures, and they do not discharge as slowly as some other battery types.
Other advantages include that AGM batteries hold static charges for a long time, they are not inclined to heat up, they can handle the cold quite well, they are lightweight, and non-hazardous too. They also do not require as much maintenance as flood lead batteries. With that being said, they come with quite a hefty price tag.
Most people probably won’t go with gel batteries, as they have more drawbacks than most of the other options, and their advantages are fairly minor when compared to other battery types. Gel batteries used fumed silica to thicken the electrolyte, which makes these cells sturdier. What is also convenient is that the viscous nature of the electrolyte prevents leaking when damage occurs.
Other advantages of the gel battery are that it does not require much maintenance at all, and they are quite durable, as well as resistant to shock and vibration. Moreover, they are great both for extreme heat and cold, plus they have excellent life cycles.
With that being said, gel batteries have narrow charging profiles and it is not hard to damage them through improper or over charging. These also don’t have the greatest amp-hour capacity, but they still cost quite a bit.
When it comes to the best in solar batteries, lithium-ion batteries are definitely up there. To get the disadvantage out of the way, they are expensive, up to 4 times as expensive as any other solar battery. However, they do have great performance.
For one, their capacity and life cycle, when compared to their very small and lightweight design, is very good. You can check out this large capacity 12V 170Ah Lithium-ion battery from Renogy on Amazon.
They have great efficiency and really long lifespans and are also very safe and stable; they barely require any maintenance, and don’t require any attention for at least 15 years after installation.
They also do not lose as much capacity as other batteries when they are idle. All in all, for more or less every single reason, lithium ion batteries are the best, but they are also by far the most expensive ones to go with.
Things To Consider When Choosing a Solar Battery
You don’t want to just run out and buy any solar battery. There are some considerations you should keep in mind before making a purchase, so let’s talk about these right now.
1. Battery Capacity
One of the most important things to consider before buying any solar battery is how big it is. Here we are not really referring to physical size, although this is another consideration you might want to keep in mind based on your own spatial requirements. However, by size, what is meant is how much energy the battery in question can store.
Keep in mind that if you get stackable batteries, you can use multiple batteries at once. One thing to think about is that a battery with a low capacity and high power rating can run your whole home, but for just a few hours, whereas one with a high capacity and low power rating can only power a few important appliances, but for a long time. Generally speaking, the higher the capacity and the higher the power rating, the better off you are.
2. Charging Time
If you are worried about how much sun and time it takes to charge the battery in question, you are probably best off going with gel, as they charge really fast. Lithium-ion batteries also do not take long to charge, usually around 3 hours or so, maybe a bit longer.
Flood lead acid batteries can take up to a whole day to charge, if not longer. Of course, the faster the battery charges, the better off you are because it doesn’t take as much light or time for charging, and you can get to using that solar power much faster too.
3. Ease of Installation
Something else to keep in mind before you go out and buy a solar battery is how easy the one in question is to install. Now, while this isn’t rocket science, it is also not something you want to do if you haven’t dealt with a solar panel system before.
When it comes down to it, you will most likely want the help of a professional for this. Although, with that being said, if you want something that is space friendly, maintenance free, and relatively easy to install, you might want to go with a lithium-ion battery.
4. Your Budget
Of course, the upfront cost for the solar battery itself is something else you should keep in mind. One thing we want to note here is an old adage – you get what you pay for. Generally speaking, the more expensive the solar battery, the better it will perform and the longer it will last.
Something like a lithium-ion battery might cost many times the amount of an AGM or lead flood acid battery, but it also requires much less maintenance, is more resilient, easier to install, and features better overall performance in pretty much every way.
5. Battery Lifespan
Another important consideration is how long the battery will last. Keep in mind that as the days go on, your battery will have less of an ability to hold a charge. Each battery you can buy will come with a certain number of hours, days, and years that it can be used until it becomes more or less useless and can no longer hold a charge well.
This will depend on the type of battery, the size, and the brand name, but generally speaking, the longer you want it to last, the more you will have to pay. You always want to pay attention to the rating on the packaging in regards to this.
6. Manufacturer's Warranty
The other really important thing you want to look for is how good the manufacturer’s warranty for the battery is. Of course, you don’t want to spend thousands on one of these batteries, only to have it break in a few years, just to learn that it is not covered under warranty anymore.
Of course, the more you spend on your battery, and the more reputable the brand name is, the better this warranty will be. When it comes down to it, a 20- or 30-year warranty is great, a 10-year warranty not so much, and of course, the lifetime warranty is always best.
How Can You Size Your Battery Bank
Best Deep Cycle Solar Battery Reviews
Let’s take a quick look at what we think are some of the best sealed lead acid solar batteries on the market right now.
1. ExpertPower 12V 33Ah Rechargeable Deep Cycle Battery
This is one great option to go with, one of our favorites in fact. This particular battery is an AGM or absorbed glass matt battery, which is good for several reasons. For one, it is one of the most highly trusted and best reviewed seal lead acid batteries on the market right now.
The ExpertPower 12V 33Ah Rechargeable Deep Cycle Battery has a really wide temperature range, so it should never get too hot, and it can easily handle extreme outdoor temperatures, both hot and cold.
Something else that you might like about this battery is that it is fairly small and is not going to take up much space. Furthermore, it comes with a very easy one-time installation feature. This is a valve-regulated battery and it is said to be maintenance free.
This is a 12 Volt 33 Amp/10 Hour Deep Cycle battery, which means that it can handle quite a big charge and it lasts for quite some time too. Finally, the ExpertPower 12v 33ah Rechargeable Deep Cycle Battery has a very durable shell that allows it to resist the elements with ease.
ExpertPower EXP12330 Specification (Click to see)
2. Renogy Deep Cycle AGM Battery
This is another fairly good AGM deep cycle solar battery, one that works well in many circumstances. First of all, keep in mind that it is not the lightest or smallest battery for solar panels out there, and it will take up a good deal of space.
However, with that being said, it is very simple to install and barely takes any knowledge to install it and get it in operational condition. Moreover, the Renogy Deep Cycle AGM Battery is virtually maintenance free and really does not require much in the way of monitoring or maintenance.
This particular solar battery has a capacity of 100Ah@10hr-rate to 10.8V @ 25°C. In other words, it is pretty quick to charge, it can hold a charge for quite some time, and it is fairly energy efficient. It might not be as efficient or effective as a lithium-ion battery, but for an AGM battery, it certainly holds its own.
The Renogy Deep Cycle AGM Battery has a 600 cycle 50% DOD rating, which is pretty good, especially for an AGM battery. All in all, this battery is quite cost effective, durable, easy to maintain, and has a good capacity.
Renogy Deep Cycle 12V 100Ah Spec. (Click to see)
3. Universal 12V 100Ah Deep Cycle AGM Battery
If you are on the hunt for a very durable solar battery, the Universal UB121000-45978 12v 100AH Deep Cycle AGM Battery is a great option to keep your eye on. For one, it can be mounted in any position, which helps in terms of versatility.
Other than that, installing and mounting it is about as easy as humanly possible. As we said, this item is also very durable with a shell that is resistant to shock as well as vibration; it has a good amount of impact resistance; and it does fine in both hot and cold temperatures.
Also, keep in mind that the Universal UB121000 12V 100Ah Deep Cycle AGM Battery is spill proof, as well as maintenance free. The battery itself is not that small or lightweight, but this is not a huge drawback considering how affordable, efficient, and durable this item is.
In terms of charging time, it’s not the best, but also not the worst by far, which can also be said for idle discharging and overall capacity.
Universal UB121000 Deep Cycle 12V 100Ah Spec. [+]
4. Mighty Max Deep Cycle Rechargeable Battery
If you are looking for a smaller and more cost-effective option to go with, the Mighty Max Deep Cycle Rechargeable Battery is a great option to keep in mind.
What is cool here is that you really are not paying very much, and you actually get 2 batteries for a very low cost. Now, there is no arguing that these are not the very best solar batteries around, as the whole “get what you pay for” thing does apply here.
However, for the very low price, the level of quality they bring to the table is actually quite surprising. Some of the benefits you get with this battery is that it features a spill proof design, it is easy to mount and install, it has good deep discharge recovery, it does fine in both high and low temperatures, has a spill-proof design, and it has a long service life.
Of course, it won’t outclass a much more expensive battery, but for the low price you still get a pretty good battery here, or actually 2 of them.
5. WindyNation AGM Deep Cycle Sealed Lead Acid Battery
This is actually one of the more expensive options on our list, but it also appears to be one of the better ones. When it comes to off-grid solar power, it’s one of the best AGM batteries out there.
It can provide up to 100-AMP hours at the 10 hour rating. It has a great energy capacity, it’s pretty efficient, and has very low idle discharge rates.
The fact that it uses virgin lead makes it a great option in terms of idle discharge, capacity, and overall shelf life. The WindyNation AGM Deep Cycle Sealed Lead Acid Battery features heavy-duty plates which allow for long time repetitive and deep discharges. It’s got a 1-year warranty, is easy to install, and doesn’t require all that much maintenance either.
WindyNation BAT-ML12-100 12V 100Ah Tech Spec. [+]
Which Deep Cycle Battery Is Right For You
When it comes down to it, you need to choose the solar battery which will work best for your off-grid solar panel system, whether it be an AGM, gel, lithium-ion, or a basic flood lead acid model. Before you make any kind of purchase, please refer to our sections on solar battery types, as well as our section on the main considerations to keep in mind before making a purchase. You do not want to ignore this important comparison, as different battery types and features will make a big difference when it comes to matching your needs.
Now, in terms of a recommendation, one of our favorite options here is the WindyNation AGM Deep Cycle Sealed Lead Acid Battery. It may be a bit pricey, but it also is one of the more reliable, durable, and overall high-performance models. Going the other way, if big-time performance is not your main concern, but a low upfront cost is, you might want to look at the Mighty Max Deep Cycle 12Ah Battery.
Keep in mind to always consider your budget and primary application when making a decision. Most important of all, stay safe; if you don’t know what you are doing, you should always ask a professional for help.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter has been installing PV systems since 2016 as a volunteer participating in over 30 installations events in the Bay Area, California. He has a mechanical engineering background and he has been involved in the solar industry since 2015. In his spare time, he likes to explore cool solar gears that make his camping trip more enjoyable and fun.
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