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How to choose the right battery for your solar project

Maximize your battery life, avoid common mistakes and reduce costs by learning how to select the right battery for your system every time.

Did you know that batteries, even with nearly identical specifications, may have unequal life and performance? It’s true. Choosing the right model for your system can mean the difference between long project life, low maintenance and high performance — or frustrating downtime and early failure.

All batteries are made differently. Some manufacturers use heavier grids and more lead, robotic assembly and automated quality control, and exhaustive performance testing. Other manufacturers make batteries using manual assembly and outdated materials that can compromise performance. Low-price batteries seem like a bargain, but they often require more maintenance, fail earlier and cost more in the long run.

By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to identify differences in design, materials, manufacturing and quality control to choose the best battery for you.

Understand Different Battery Types
The first step is to select the right type. Lead-acid batteries are made for specific applications, and some aren’t a good fit for renewable energy (RE) systems. Automotive and commercial starter batteries deliver short bursts of power and stay at full charge most of the time, making them unsuited for such applications. Uninterruptable power supply (UPS) batteries are designed to provide backup electricity during power outages but will not tolerate continuous discharge and charge cycles.

Deep-cycle batteries deliver electricity for a long time, even multiple days, because they’re designed for constant discharge and charge cycles. The difference between deep-cycle and RE-specific batteries is that RE batteries’ basic design accounts for the specific requirements of renewable energy applications.

Flooded batteries are the most commonly used batteries in RE and grid-backup systems, because they’re affordable, easy to maintain, long-lasting and reliable. Valve-regulated lead–acid (VRLA) batteries, such as absorbent glass mat (AGM) and gel, are maintenance-free but typically more expensive. Whatever type of battery you choose, know which materials, construction methods and quality control systems translate into affordable, reliable power for your system.

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