Monday, June 11, 2018

Battery Shopping

The battery bank on my solar electric system finally died over the winter while we were away. That came as no surprise as the batteries were pretty much shot last fall. However, ten years is a pretty good run for flooded lead acid batteries.

I was thinking of putting off buying new ones, but changed my mind. While it's tempting to pay down debt, it makes no sense to pay higher electric bills either. Buying batteries and getting the system up and running again is a good return on investment.

Battery development has been rapid in recent years. My hope was that they'd be economical for my storage needs. It turns out that good old fashioned lead acid is still the best bargain. While lightweight lithium batteries make sense in cars, light weight isn't necessary for a house. The only time when the weight of the house batteries matters is when they are installed. After that they just sit there.

Getting the solar electric system up and running makes sense economically, but it's more important to have them for grid down situations. Storms in the mountains still knock out power often enough to be a pain. Only makes sense to concentrate on getting the system sorted out once more.



  1. Would love to have solar since my house faces south and gets sun all day. Can't afford it and have nowhere to put battery bank.

    1. Here there are companies that will put them on your house for a cut of your electric bill savings. They tie them directly into the grid, so no battery bank. Doesn't do you any good in blackout, but it reduces your electric bill. After ten years the panels are yours.

  2. Perhaps you could post with more details on your battery decision process. (ie: Ok, these lead batteries seem like the best, but compare that to these lithium ones that cost $X amount more, but have these pros/cons....) . Would like to read your thoughts.

    I recently did similar calculations and came to the lead acid conclusion, too. But I don't have the trailer to install them in yet.

    Also, did you look at the Edison nickel iron ones? I think there are 2 or 3 companies selling those. Seem to cost maybe 3X lead, but supposed to last decades.


    1. Okay, a few more things. One factor about Lithium batteries is the fact that some have failed in super cold weather and then caught fire. Since I shut down my house in NH for the winter, it's enough of an issue to inspire caution.

      Did look at other types, but the initial outlay is an issue. I should get another ten years out of lead acid and the battery options should be better by then. Also, using golf kart size rather than the L-16 type that last a bit longer. Here weight is an issue as they are twice as heavy as the golf kart ones, which are around 80 pounds each for the good ones. Since I have to carry them a ways over rough ground it's an issue.