Most solar equipment is designed to last for decades, but solar batteries tend to last only about a single decade or less. While that’s still a pretty decent lifespan for a piece of equipment, you probably want to ensure that you get every usable year out of those batteries that you can, right? Then you’d better avoid these three things that will reduce the life of your solar batteries and ruin them before their time should be up.
This is typically only a problem in flooded, non-sealed batteries. These batteries require the user to check electrolyte levels and top off the fluids regularly. If you fail to do this, the electrolyte levels drop, leading to exposing parts of the plates inside the battery. This reduces the battery performance and overall lifespan. While uncommon, electrolyte loss can also occur in sealed batteries, but this usually only happens in cases involving overcharging or very high charging currents.
It’s important that you understand the maintenance needs of the type of solar battery you own and perform the necessary maintenance tasks as scheduled. Additionally, ensure that you’re charging your batteries properly; a charge controller prevents issues like overcharging and charging currents that are too high. All of this will help you avoid electrolyte loss.
Sulphation can occur during lead-acid batteries’ discharge cycles. It’s a normal part of the discharging process when lead sulfate crystals are deposited on the battery plates. However, during the charging portion of the battery cycle, the chemical reactions should reverse this process and convert the crystals back to lead and lead oxide. But if the battery is left in a partially charged state for a prolonged period of time, the crystals can harden and won’t be dissipated during the charging process.
When this happens, it’s called sulphation, reducing the battery’s capacity and overall lifespan. To avoid this, ensure that your batteries are fully recharging when they’re not in use.
Just as overcharging can reduce your battery’s lifespan, over-discharging can do the same thing. All batteries have to maintain a certain amount of charge at all times; if you discharge the stored energy below that level, you risk permanently damaging the battery. Depth of discharge can vary. While some battery types only have a depth of discharge of about 50%, others can discharge 90% or more of the power stored.
If you want to ensure that your batteries last as long as possible, get a quality battery and use a Victron inverter/charger that has a built-in charge controller to prevent overcharging and over-discharging.