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Not all batteries are created equally

Batteries are the core if not the heart of your system be sure to start with the right stuff!  Batteries, next to generators are the component that are most often skimped on, but can make or break your system. The damage to batteries are the single most often failure within an off-grid system.

When itís time to purchase or change batteries please remember that all batteries are not created equally. Batteries are purpose constructed; they are optimized and constructed for specific applications and therefore perform worse within other applications depending on their initial design and application they are put to. If the  battery you are looking to use off-grid is also rated with cranking amps, the battery is probably not a true deep cycle battery but a compromise formulations such as used for RV and boating applications.

Quality is a decisive factor in performance. Fresh batteries in good condition offer all of their rated runtime and recharge after use.  Improper battery types, batteries with inappropriate design and aging batteries, which have been discharged and recharged many times, accept less of a recharge over time which results in shorter runtime. Severely degraded batteries and ones with manufacturing defects can fail prematurely or even explode.

Initial vs. Lifetime Battery Cost
Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart, Sears and others sell "deep cycle" marine battery for as low as $60 which may seem like a good deal.  After all, they are deep cycle batteries... However, the use to which you will put these batteries will kill these batteries within two years.    Your cheapest alternative is probably a golf cart battery if you are starting off on your own and expect to make mistakes and think you might damage or destroy your first batteries start with these.  Otherwise, allow us to supply you with quality batteries built to last many years.  We deal with a number of manufactures and will find the most appropriate battery for you at your location and application.

Adding New Batteries
If you intend to purchase what you can afford now and add more batteries later, think again. Mixing old and new batteries is never a good idea. Batteries age over time, when connected as single battery bank the batteries act as and are treated as a single battery resource.  The limit of this resource is the oldest, weakest battery within the array.  Batteries within a battery bank should all be identical.  At minimum the batteries should be of the same construction and rating. If your system is set up and configured to work with several battery banks a new, separate,  battery bank can be set up with different batteries. 

What happens, and why is it the new battery that's been added that fails first?  As mentioned in the previous paragraph, your charging system sees your battery bank as one battery.  Within the battery bank the new battery which is much more chemically and electrically active will overcharge before the 'old' batteries come up to charge and during the discharge cycle they will discharge and over-discharge before the others. This over-cycling will destroy the new battery or batteries. There are are other reasons such as differing output and resistance between batteries but the above example loosely defines the issue of all of these issues.

Follow the link 'Battery Replacement' at the left side of this page.

We've become battery experts over time, there's a LOT to batteries and battery maintenance!  It is our hope that our information assists you and prevents early battery failure within your system.

Caution:  Inverters consume power while they wait for a load to come on. Most inverters are equipped with an automatic shut off feature that reduces the amount of standby power required.  This is frequently called "sleep mode,"  or "standby," or "power saver" or...  An inverter, even in the sleep mode will continue to consume battery power!  Don't leave your inverter in a situation that can drain your batteries flat.

Suggestion: Most inverters and some solar charge controllers have a low voltage disconnect feature.  Because batteries should never be taken down as low as the factory default settings on these devices we strongly suggest you raise cut-off level to about 75% discharge. (Voltage will vary depending upon the type of batteries and the nominal voltage of your battery bank.)

 

Each time a battery is charged or discharged some of its life is consumed. Some processes take more from the battery than others.  The harder your battery is charged or discharged more your battery life is worn away.

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Last modified: March 01, 2017