Lithium Ion Batteries:
There is a lot of hype over these new batteries. They are much lighter and hold a lot of power in a small space. This is great for electric cars and rechargeable tools but, has some serious disadvantage when it comes to solar system energy storage.
Lithium Ion batteries
- are more expensive than lead batteries and may not last any more years.
- are very difficult to recycle and much of the lithium is not recovered.
- must be charged more carefully and are very sensitive to heat and cold.
Lithium Ion batteries have been the source of fires in cell phones, lap tops, hover-boards, and more.
Would you want that in your home or cottage where you sleep?
If you look around on the internet you will see there is a lot of research and development still being done to try and make a better battery for mobile use and increase safety. Thats an indication the technology is not yet mature.
Todays lead batteries are available in sealed maintenance free types that are spill proof. They can even work sitting on their sides. They offer very good service life typically 8 to 12 years and are totally recyclable. Recent improvements to the lead battery have added carbon to improve performance.
Solar charge controls:
There has been great gains in efficiency of solar electric systems since the invention of maximum power point tracking. This is not moving solar panels, its allowing the solar panels to work much more efficiently by using DC to DC conversion. The charge control works much like an automatic transmission in a car. The charge control does what is known as sweeping, where it adjusts the incoming voltage up and down to find where it can make the most amps going to the battery. It regulates the charge very accurately to get the maximum life out of the battery. Some charge controls also offer Arc Fault and Ground Fault protection as required by the electrical code.
Yes. they cost more but would you buy a car with a standard transmission and only high gear?
Huge gains in output have been made year after year as the manufacturers continue to experiment with new materials. With the use of solar farms all over the world the cost has been driven down in those sizes used on solar farms. You will still find 12 volt panels at much higher cost per watt because the volume is not there. Because of the fearless competition between manufacturers it is necessary to always keep an eye on the quality of the product especially from off shore sources.
Quality inverters produce very pure sine wave power that cheap 12 volt inverters can not match.
A good inverter is repairable and will have options for built in backup battery charger that can be used with a generator, remote control, battery monitor so you can see the charge level in the battery bank, and an automatic generator start feature, so if the charge gets too low the generator can tip in some extra power in bad weather or extra heavy use. Most are stackable so you can run more than 1 inverter on the same system for more power.
The latest improvements are 240 volt available from a single unit. This makes wiring the home or cottage easier as electrical panels are designed to receive power in this configuration. Your back up generator will work much better when the 240 plug is used for the inverters built in charger.
New homes and cottages are required to have arc fault and ground fault circuits that will only work on pure sine wave power. These circuits will not even turn on when you attempt to power them with cheap disposable inverters.
I have watched the development of renewable energy systems for more than 30 years. What is next we just don't know. What we do know is that todays equipment is light years ahead of what was available even 10 years ago. There are some very smart people working towards making things even better.