Definition: A collection of units.
Electrically, a battery is a collection of smaller power producing cells. These cells are added in output to total a given voltage. A battery can be added to another battery to increase AMPERAGE OR VOLTAGE depending on how they are coupled. This is termed a bank of batteries.
Various chemistries are utilised for battery manufacture - some have good advantages over others whilst others have good advantages over others’ weaknesses. Hmmm – a bit ambiguous. But that is a battery.
A LEAD ACID type battery is the oldest commercial battery. It uses sulphuric acid and water (electrolyte) and lead plates to produce power. Typically a single cell produces 2 volts. The amperage depends on the actual size of the cell itself. These batteries come in too many configurations to mention here, but we give those that we in the solar field work with most.
FLOODED – this battery is the most common; it is flooded with the electrolyte - the more, the greater energy capacity. The standard battery is high maintenance, it needs constant monitoring to keep electrolyte at its best levels topping up with de-ionized water is needed.
SEALED – the latest development. The sealed battery does not need maintenance to top up levels, many battery manufacturers refer to these as VRLA batteries (Valve Regulated Lead Acid).
Gel – these batteries are essentially the same as lead acid, the difference is that the acid has been gelled, meaning it can theoretically be mounted in all positions, possibly even upside down. Don’t know why though…
All have a comparatively short lifespan from 2 years to 5 or ten years.
LITHIUM - this battery is found in computers, phones, spacecraft, and health monitoring equipment and myriad other applications demanding compact, lightweight, high power density batteries. Each cell in the battery produces an amazing 3 volts plus a few points.
As with all new technologies, lithium batteries came in for a beating with phones “exploding” and one or two planes crashing because of the lithium batteries. This was without exception due to the chemistry used with the lithium – the first batteries were very unstable but really powerful.
Lithium batteries are now extremely safe to use, the LiFePo4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries are virtually destruction-proof fire and explosion wise. ALL these elements are completely stable and interact with each other in a very efficient manner.
LITHIUM batteries are one-quarter the weight and 4 times the efficiency of lead acid batteries at only twice the price. They are entirely free of maintenance issues and have a theoretical lifespan of TWENTY YEARS.
LiFePo4 (Lithium batteries) have fewer inefficiencies and can be up to 4 times smaller than lead acid batteries. This is mainly because of the construction of the cells making the battery. And the interaction of the three components: Li (Lithium) Fe (Iron) Po4 (Phosphate). This reaction keeps the battery voltage relatively constant over the discharge period until the battery is about 80% discharged and then the voltage begins to drop to about 90% when the battery cuts itself out of the supply circuit to protect itself, thus, lithium batteries can last three times longer in service than lead acid….simply because lithium batteries are overall 98% efficient. Lithium batteries will last up to ten years and longer if well cared for discharge wise….Lower than designed discharge equates to less charging time meaning longer lifespan.
Over a period of 10 years (the guaranteed lifespan of a lithium battery), an averagely priced lead acid battery would be replaced at least once. So, cost wise, the cheaper LEAD ACID battery is TWICE its original price over ten years. This makes the higher initial cost of the lithium battery cheaper in the same ten year period as this is its guaranteed lifespan it’s expected lifespan can be up to twenty years! But the benefits don’t stop here- the lithium battery is on average 30% more efficient at charging and discharging, can be charged to partially charged state and discharged frequently. Try this with a lead acid battery, and your battery will throw in the towel within its guaranteed lifespan because of sulphating of the acid electrolyte on the plates within the battery.
Cheric Energy can supply all the above technologies at very competitive prices from ALL SOUTH AFRICAN manufacturers.
We offer the lead acid batteries for portable, low cost, and lower end housing markets. These batteries are covered by manufacturer warranty and as we install we set the solar equipment to utilise these batteries in a way that does not damage them unduly.
Cheric Energy prefers to offer the lithium technology to those who want a very long lifespan on battery reserves such as high-end homes and critical installations etc.
Cheric Energy only uses batteries from two suppliers: First National Battery for lead-acid and SolarMD for Lithium batteries. We do not supply batteries that may not be able to be backed up by their warranties.