If you’re taking the time to invest in solar energy, a solar panel battery is a great way to store excess energy and use it at a later time. Though it’s possible to install solar for your home or RV without a battery, foregoing the use of a battery will make it so that you might have to connect to the power grid more often, spending more money on energy than you need to.
When you do invest in off-grid solar batteries or any other type of solar battery, solar panel battery maintenance is critical. When stored properly and cared for correctly, your solar batteries will last longer, store energy better, and ensure you’re getting the right bang for your buck. We’ll break down everything you need to know about storing and caring for lithium batteries.
Table of contents:
- How to Store Lithium Batteries
- How to Keep Lithium Batteries Warm in Cold Weather
- Battery Maintenance Tips for Lithium-Ion Batteries
- Should Solar Batteries be Kept Outside or Indoors?
- How to Monitor Your Solar Batteries
- Best Batteries for Solar Off-Grid
How to Store Lithium Batteries
Lithium Ion batteries, like this 12V 200Ah Renogy Iron Phosphate Battery, require a bit of extra care when it comes to storage techniques. These are often the most sought-after batteries for solar battery charging because they are rechargeable, but they can be expensive, so storing them properly is in the best interest in terms of cost and longevity. Below are the top factors to consider when storing lithium-ion batteries:
Before disconnecting your battery from the system that it supports, charge it between 30% and 50% charged. You don’t want to fully charge it before placing the battery in storage, but you should charge it every 3-6 months so that it doesn’t lose too much of its charge over time. When you are ready to use the battery again, take it out of storage and charge it fully prior to use.
You wouldn’t store dried food in cold, wet conditions, right? In the same way that food can spoil if not stored properly, your lithium battery can be ruined if you store it improperly. Keep it in an open, dry area that gets air regularly and stays within a temperature range of -13°F to 149°F.
Lithium-ion batteries are powerful, but they are also fragile. When you are moving or handling the battery, do so with care. The last thing you want to do is drop it on a hard surface, bump it against a sharp corner, or put large amounts of pressure on the battery casing.
As mentioned above, keeping your Renogy battery within the recommended temperature range is critical. Make sure it stays out of extreme sunlight or heated areas that could reach temperatures higher than 149°F. Batteries are often stored in garages or outdoor shops but depending on the weather in your area and the ventilation offered by your space, that could lead to a disaster for your battery.
Exposure to Elements
Being hit with direct sunlight, rained on, or even subject to high amounts of humidity and moisture can cause corrosion and damage to your battery. Battery storage is an integral part of solar panel battery maintenance, so don’t overlook it.
How to Keep Lithium Batteries Warm in Cold Weather
Though lifepo4 batteries hold up better in the cold than many other battery types, it’s still important to protect them from low temperatures as much as possible. In low temps, your battery can lose a charge faster or struggle to charge at the rate that it would in a normal temperature range. Unfortunately, for many US residents, the winter season is a part of life that comes around every year.
If possible, store your battery in a place that is temperature-controlled or insulated. If that’s not an option, be sure to warm your battery up before using it and charge it every once in a while to keep its charge retention at a good level (30%-50%). With Renogy’s Smart Lithium-Ion Battery, you can enjoy the self-heating function which will automatically turn on if the battery’s internal temperature drops below 41°F. This feature takes the guesswork out of storing your battery and keeps the battery maintenance requirements as simple as possible.
Battery Maintenance Tips for Lithium-Ion Batteries
With proper lithium-ion battery care, your batteries will last longer, charge faster, and perform better. When you’re using batteries to help power your house, RV, or other devices, you want each battery at peak performance always, and your battery maintenance will have a major impact on that. For the care of lithium batteries, the following items should be a regular part of your solar panel battery maintenance routine:
Lithium-ion batteries are more resilient than other types of batteries such as lead batteries, but you should still keep them clean to enjoy the best results. Be sure to disconnect your battery before conducting any cleaning steps. Once disconnected, take a damp cloth or soft brush to clean the top of the battery and terminal, removing any dust or debris. If needed, you can use a gentle household cleaner to remove difficult dirt or grime. Then, use a clean cloth to dry your battery and ensure it is completely dry before placing back in storage or connecting it to a charging source.
Review & Inspection
If you stick your battery away and never look at it, you could uncover an unwelcome surprise down the line. Be sure to check in on your battery and conduct regular inspections no matter what season it is. Look at the top of the battery and its terminals to ensure that it is clean and clear of corrosion or damage. Also, take a few minutes to examine the cables and connections; if needed, replace damaged cables with new ones.
Voltage & Charge Checks
You want your battery to stay within a healthy level of charge, so be sure to regularly check its levels to see if it is discharging too quickly. In terms of voltage, if your battery cannot be activated with a current greater than 1A or if it is activated with a voltage below 10V, something is wrong. Do not use the battery until the situation is fixed.
Should Solar Batteries be Kept Outside or Indoors?
Installing and storing your off-grid solar batteries can be done both outdoors and indoors, but like anything, it will depend on the specific situation your batteries are expected to operate in. If you live in a place with heavy rain, high levels of moisture in the air, or a ton of direct sunlight, it’s probably best to store your lithium-ion batteries indoors if possible. On the other hand, if you live in a temperate area with plenty of dry air, these batteries are sturdy enough to be stored and used outside.
No matter where you choose to set up your batteries, regular maintenance checks will ensure that they remain in the best condition possible so that you can get the most out of them for the longest period of time. Renogy’s batteries are portable and versatile, allowing you to move them as needed.
How to Monitor Your Solar Batteries
Part of solar panel battery maintenance is monitoring your system. Since many households choose solar energy as a way to offset high energy prices, being able to monitor how much energy your battery stores – among other factors – is a great way to understand your payoff and make the most out of your investment. To monitor your system, you have two options: battery monitoring or Bluetooth monitoring.
Battery monitors are often the simplest option; with these, you can see the amperage coming from your battery and the charge level. These are two of the most important variables to monitor and battery monitors are simple to set up. You can also gain insight into the time needed to charge the battery or the time left to discharge with this option.
For a bit more high-tech approach, consider a Bluetooth monitor. This mechanism connects to a downloadable application on your phone or tablet and allows you to see many of the same variables from the comfort of your living room. You just have to be within 50 ft. of the battery in order for your system to be readable. This approach is actually a bit simpler to set up, contrary to popular belief. However, it is not weatherproof, so be sure to factor that in when making your decision.
There are several battery monitoring devices from Renogy, for example, the powerful monitoring system Renogy One, as well as Bluetooth modules for not only the batteries but also the whole solar system.
Best Batteries for Solar Off-Grid
When it comes to outfitting your solar energy system, choosing the right battery for your needs is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. At Renogy, we make some of the best batteries on the market, so whether you’re looking for gel batteries, AGM batteries, or lithium-ion batteries, we’ve got you covered.
AGM batteries are resilient, reliable, and convenient, making them a great option for projects that don’t require as much monitoring. You can count on these batteries to discharge a lot of power and do well in a range of temperatures. Gel batteries can withstand more intense charge and discharge cycles, so if you need to ensure power at all times, these are the way to go. Last but not least, lithium iron batteries are a great “catch-all” solution that can be used in nearly any situation. Whichever battery type you choose, Renogy offers the best quality and prices on the market.