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Lead Acid Battery 101

Considering a off-grid or grid-tie with battery backup solar panel or wind power system? Well make sure the batteries you purchase are deep cycle. Lead Acid Batteries are common with renewable energy systems because their upfront cost is lower and they are available worldwide. There are many sizes and capacities of lead acid batteries to meet the needs of your solar panel system but the most important difference is to understand the difference between shallow cycle and deep cycle batteries. Shallow cycle batteries are not meant to be discharged more than 20%, otherwise the lifetime of the battery will be very short, therefore you will have to replace the battery very often and do not make a good choice for a solar power system. Deep cycle batteries on the other hand are designed to be discharged by as much as 80% of their rated capacity, therefore they are a cost effective fit for a solar panel system because they will last much longer then your typical shallow cycle battery. Letting any type of lead acid battery remained fully discharged for days at a time can permanently damage the battery and can cause a loss of charging capacity. Therefore if you are considering a system with batteries, be prepared to maintain and keep an eye on the battery bank to make sure its being charged. With proper care deep cycle lead acid batteries will have a long service life and will be compatible with most power generation systems such as solar panels or wind turbines although with poor treatment and lack of maintenance the battery life will be very short. Many customers who have electric service want to go “off-grid” but don’t really understand what they are getting themselves into when working with batteries. Off-grid solar and wind power systems should be used in areas where there is no access to electric service. If you currently have electrical service at your home or small business you are better off purchasing a grid tie solar power system or a grid tie wind turbine. Grid-connected systems often break even faster and require less maintenance because these types of systems require no batteries. Any extra energy produced is stored right into the gird and the utility gives you credit for future use of that electricity. Potentially you can develop a system that can offset 100% of your yearly electrical usage, basically zero out the amount you are charged for electricity consumption. Connecting your system to the utility gird is called “Net-Metering”. If your considering a small battery for backup power, you might want to consider the Xantrex Xpower 1500, which deep cycle battery...

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Outback Power Introduces SMARTRE

Outback Power, a company that typically focused on off-grid inverters showcased a new product line at the Solar Power International 2008 trade show in San Diego, CA called the “SMARTRE” product line. SMARTRE is short for Smart Renewable Energy which is a grid tie with battery backup inverter line that focuses on easy installation. The SMARTRE inverter operates similar standard grid tie inverter, although during a utility outage, the Outback SMARTRE will switch to the battery bank and still keep your critical loads powered through an outage. For customers who want security when the grid is down but also want to take advantage of being connected to the gird, the SMARTRE solution is the product that meets those needs. The SMARTRE product line will be available in power levels up to 6.3kw and is suitable for residential and small commercial projects. The SMARTRE inverter’s integrated AC switch, transfers to the battery bank flawlessly when the grid goes down without effecting data sensitive loads like computers. SMARTRE is capable of providing as much as 69 kWh of storage during outages. The inverter charges the AGM batteries using a multi-stage charging process which prolongs battery life up to 10 years. The SMARTRE is a versatile product and can be installed both indoor and outdoors and can be either wall or pad mounted. Outback Power backs the SMARTRE grid tie inverter with battery back up with a 5 year warranty, which is odd because in California for your grid tie solar power system to qualify for the rebate your inverter needs to have a 10 year manufacturers...

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