How to Maintain Solar Batteries?
Solar batteries are used in most domestic and commercial solar power systems. Many solar batteries expire within months. Frequently replacing and recycling old solar batteries is not feasible. But with proper care, you can ensure longevity. The lifespan of solar batteries depends on many factors, and one of these factors is maintenance.
Generally, solar batteries do not require much maintenance, but if they are properly maintained, they last longer than usual. This maintenance includes regulating their water level, keeping their connections clean, and ensuring the batteries are never over-charged and over-discharged.
But before we proceed to these factors in detail, you need to know that not all types of solar batteries need the same maintenance. The lithium-ion batteries require nearly no maintenance, whereas lead-acid and other types require some maintenance. So, always read the instructions in the user manual (provided with the battery) before use.
Solar Battery Maintenance
To maintain your solar battery and ensure it works for a long period and provides maximum capacity, ensure you take care of the following factors.
Keep Batteries Charged
If solar batteries frequently discharge below 30% of their capacity, it affects their life. Keeping them charged above 30% at all times keeps them healthy. Moreover, if a solar battery is frequently completely discharged, it is permanently damaged.
Solar batteries naturally discharge after some period, even if not in use. If you disconnect the batteries for a few weeks for any reason, make sure they are not completely discharged.
Solar Batteries Expire Before Time If They Are Not Maintained
Maintain Water Level
For lead-acid batteries, it is essential to maintain their water level before being used. Their water level needs to be maintained for the rest of their life. If it is maintained, the battery’s performance and lifespan decline.
Always use distilled water to maintain the water level as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Using any third-party formulations or simple drinking water for batteries is not recommended. Doing so affects the battery’s lifespan and performance capacity.
Protect Battery From Extreme Temperatures
It is normal for solar batteries to heat up during charging and discharging. But overheating is not good for the batter’s life. Make sure your batteries are placed in an airy and shaded space. Also, keep your batteries away from other equipment that produces heat.
Similarly, extremely cold temperatures are also bad for solar batteries. The baseline temperature for solar batteries is 77-degree Fahrenheit; at 30-degree Fahrenheit, they lose approximately 25% of capacity. At lower temperatures, they lose even more capacity.
So batteries must be protected from extremely cold temperatures, especially if they do not have any thermal-stability structure. In such cases, it is recommended to use an earth-sheltered enclosure.
Randomly Rotate Batteries
Solar batteries are prone to uneven charging when connected to a string. Randomly rotating batteries within the circuit help keep them equally charged. If batteries are not equally charged, some of them end up getting a low charge which affects their lifespan.
Connecting the least possible number of batteries in a string is also a good practice. A higher number of batteries connected in a string means the overall resistance will be higher. And higher resistance prevents equalization of charge among all batteries.
Randomly Rotating Solar Batteries Within The Circuit Helps Keep Them Equally Charged
Even if everything looks well, get your solar batteries inspected by certified professionals at least once in a while. Sometimes solar batteries need extra care, which is not evident from their routine performance. However, with some technical tests, their health can be checked, and the battery can be treated in time.
Similarly, inspect your solar inverter to ensure it is charging and discharging the battery within the safe range.
Monitor State of Charge (SOC)
If solar batteries are not fully charged for long periods, they start corroding from the inside, and some cells weaken. This ultimately leads to permanent damage. For longevity, fully charge your solar batteries at least once every 3 weeks.
You can use a digital multimeter to monitor the voltages of your battery after it is fully charged. The user manual of batteries contains details about how the voltages should vary if the battery is in good health.
Protect Terminals From Corrosion
Battery terminals corrode with time if they are exposed to moisture. And once the terminals corrode, it is hard to get rid of corrosion completely. Moreover, it adds resistance to the system, resulting in minor energy loss, sparking, and spikes.
Always apply protective compounds on the battery terminals, wires, and connectors to avoid corrosion. Keep the connections and wires insulated to minimize exposure.
Battery Terminals Corrode If Not Protected
Keep Battery Clean
Carefully clean the battery, especially the top, at least twice a year. The accumulated dust and moisture on the top often result in corrosion and stray currents. Keeping the battery clean helps get rid of them.
Taking care of your batteries will make them last longer than their average life, and they will also perform well. If you have recently bought new solar batteries, keep them maintained from the very first day. Because if they are damaged once, you cannot retrieve their health afterward.
Also, prefer acquiring the services of a professional to install and inspect your batteries. If you ever encounter any problems, consult the brands’ service center.