Are lithium-ion solar batteries the most effective type of energy storage?

Although on the surface Iceland and Paraguay may appear to be very different, they share the same characteristic in that they depend almost totally on renewable energy.

Why then do developed countries like the US struggle to generate even 20% of their energy from renewable sources? There are various responses to that question, but one you’ll frequently hear is that renewable energy sources are intermittent, which means they aren’t dependable enough to power an entire nation.

This is partly accurate. Since the sun doesn’t constantly shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, the two main sources of renewable energy, solar and wind power, are regarded as intermittent resources. However, cutting-edge energy storage innovations like lithium-ion solar batteries are enabling the continuous use of solar energy to power dwellings.

We will define lithium ion solar batteries, examine their price range, analyze common brands, and go through both the advantages and disadvantages of each.

What is a lithium-ion solar battery?

Rechargeable lithium solar batteries can be used in conjunction with a solar energy system to store extra solar energy. Electric cars and rechargeable gadgets like cellphones frequently employ lithium-ion batteries (EVs).

Popular EV maker Tesla unveiled the Powerwall 1, a new lithium-ion solar battery in 2015 that was modeled after the technology found in their EVs.

The introduction of the Powerwall 1 sparked a flurry of debate and investigation into energy storage and the creation of reasonably priced solar batteries. Additionally, it helped Tesla become one of the leading battery producers in the US. Lithium ion solar battery technology has been advanced by Powerwall, which set pricing for battery energy storage, stimulated investment in the industry, and raised expectations that battery prices would fall to levels that the typical home customer could pay.

Prior to the creation of the Tesla Powerwall, lead-acid battery banks made up the majority of solar storage systems. However, lithium-ion solar batteries are now widely available, allowing any homeowner to choose the best model for their needs.

The industry and experts alike have neglected to address one straightforward question, despite all the excitement around this new technology. Is the best battery for solar panel systems lithium-ion solar batteries?

How much do lithium-ion solar batteries cost?

The expense of an energy storage system is the main worry for most households. A lithium battery storage system installation could cost from $7,000 to more than $30,000.

The cost may change based on:

  • What manufacturer you choose
  • The features the battery has
  • How many batteries you need
  • The installation costs

Installing lithium-ion batteries is significantly more expensive than installing lead-acid batteries. Installation costs for lead acid batteries can range from $5,000 to $15,000, which is significantly less than the price of installing lithium-ion solar batteries.

Why do people still select lithium-ion batteries, then? Some people may argue that the greater cost is justified because it comes with many other benefits that lead-acid batteries do not offer.

Popular lithium ion solar battery brands

Lithium-ion solar batteries are widely available. The Tesla Powerwall, a 13.5 kilowatt hour (kWh) lithium ion battery that costs about $11,500, installation fees included, is the most popular option for domestic energy storage.

One of the reasons the Tesla Powerwall is so well-liked is that it is one of the more affordable lithium ion solar batteries.

Other well-liked lithium-ion solar batteries are listed in the following table:

BatteryPriceStorage CapacityWarranty
LG RESU10H Prime$7,0009.6 kWh10 year
Tesla Powerwall$8,50013.5 kWh10 year
sonnen Ecolinx$33,00012 kWh15 year
BYD Battery Box H-10$6,52510.25 kWh10 year

What are the pros and cons of lithium-ion solar batteries?

Because the technology has several advantages over lead acid batteries, the arrival of lithium-ion solar batteries shocked the solar industry.

Lead acid batteries, on the other hand, can occasionally be a good option for storing solar energy.

Pros of lithium-ion solar batteries 

The advantages of lithium-ion solar batteries include:

  • Higher depth of discharge
  • Long lifespan
  • Higher energy density
  • High efficiency
  • Less maintenance

Higher depth of discharge (DoD) 

The difference between the amount of energy that has been used and the battery’s total capacity is known as the DoD. To preserve the battery’s health, the majority of batteries come with a suggested DoD.

Deep cycle batteries, such lithium-ion solar batteries, with DoDs of about 95%. The DoD of many lead acid batteries is only 50%. As a result, you won’t need to charge a lithium-ion battery as frequently and can use more of its stored energy.

Long lifespan 

Lithium ion batteries have a long lifespan since they have a high DoD and don’t need to be charged and refilled as frequently.

The typical lithium-ion solar battery has a minimum warrantied life of 10 years, or 10,000 cycles, whichever comes first. On the other hand, lead acid batteries only have a 5-year warranty period.

Higher energy density 

How much power a battery can store in relation to its actual size is determined by its energy density.

For households with limited space, lithium-ion batteries are an excellent alternative to lead-acid batteries since they can store more power without taking up as much room.

High efficiency 

The round-trip efficiency of lithium-ion batteries is higher than that of other commercially available solar battery types.

Efficiency is the ratio of the quantity of energy that is actually useful from a battery to the energy required to store it. Efficiencies for lithium-ion batteries range from 90 to 95%.

Less maintenance 

One of those benefits that is impossible to quantify is not having to worry about routine maintenance.

Compared to flooded lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion solar batteries don’t require as much maintenance.

Cons of lithium-ion solar batteries

The disadvantages of lithium-ion solar batteries include:

  • High cost
  • Thermal runaway

High cost 

When compared to lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries are typically the most expensive battery storage choice.

The good news is that lithium-ion battery systems are eligible for incentives like the federal tax credit, which contributes to their lower cost. Additionally, even though lead acid batteries are less expensive, they need to be replaced more frequently than powerful lithium-ion systems.

Thermal runaway 

Lithium-ion batteries are more likely to experience thermal runaway, which can result in fire. A correctly placed lithium ion solar battery, however, poses little to no risk.

When is a lithium ion solar battery the best choice?

Because they are compact and can store a lot of energy, lithium-ion solar batteries are the finest solar energy storage technology for regular household use. Additionally, their high DoD allows you to consume more stored energy.

Since the battery will survive longer than a lead acid battery, it won’t need to be changed as frequently. Additionally, because of their better efficiency, you may consume more of the energy that your solar panels generate and store, which increases the value of your investment.

Lead acid batteries, for example, might be better for you in some circumstances. This is particularly true if you are only storing backup power in a solar battery. The lower DoD and longevity won’t be as important because you won’t be routinely draining a backup battery, thus it won’t be required to pay more for those qualities.

For off-grid solar system projects that aren’t utilized frequently, like holiday cabins, lead acid batteries are also common. However, investing more money in a lithium-ion solar battery is definitely your best option for daily use.

Energy storage can enable you to function solely on renewable energy, whether it’s for off-grid battery backup or for a solar system that is connected to the grid. To locate the best solar battery system to go with your solar panels, speak with nearby solar installers.

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