In an age of darkness, at least for South Africa, the sun-loving population does what it can to reduce the burden of load shedding and carry on with their lives as normally as possible. How are people doing this? By installing home solar systems to avoid black-outs as much as possible.
Enter the solar battery. This nifty technology is becoming a norm in South African houses. Find out how it works and why you should consider them for your home or business.
How Home Solar Systems Work
To understand how solar batteries work, let’s start by looking at how harnessing solar energy works. There are two types of solar power that you’ll find: photovoltaics (PV), which are common in the home, and concentrating solar power (CSP), which are more likely to be found in power plants.
The sun shines onto the solar panel and its energy is absorbed by the PV cells within the panel. This energy then creates a reaction within the panel where electrical charges move in response to an internal electrical field, which leads to a flow of electricity. This flow can be stored in a battery bank designed specifically for PV solar storage use or used immediately.
CSP systems, on the other hand, use mirrors to reflect concentrated sunlight onto receivers that collect the energy from the sunlight and convert it to heat. This is then converted into electricity or stored for use later on for electricity supply when it’s needed.
Integrating These Solar Power Options into Homes
The latter system is the one that stores energy for later use, but we can achieve this with the PV solar batteries that we use for domestic applications. These help you store excess energy so you can power your home when the electricity goes off or when your solar panels aren’t generating enough energy, such as on a cloudy or rainy day, or at night.
What is a Solar Battery?
As mentioned, it’s an add-on to your solar system that can help you harness even more of the energy you generate from solar power. There are two main types of batteries you can choose from to help power your home.
- Lithium-ion batteries: A chemical reaction takes place where lithium ions release free electrons that flow from the negatively charged anode to the positively charged cathode. Chemical energy is created and stored prior to converting it to electrical energy. At home, you’d combine multiple lithium-ion batteries with technology that ensures the safety and operation of the whole solar system. These batteries have a good discharge rate and life span.
- Lead-acid batteries: This uses the same tech as your car battery and is the more affordable option of the two. However, it’s not nearly as effective at storing and holding a charge, so lithium-ion batteries are better suited to modern home solar systems.
Why Lithium-Ion Batteries?
In addition to storing more energy, lithium-ion batteries also have a greater depth of discharge (DoD). The depth of discharge refers to the percentage of the total capacity of the battery. For example, if a battery has a DoD of 90%, that means it can safely use 90% of its capacity before it needs to be charged. Not going beyond the DoD prolongs the battery life by ensuring its used in a way that doesn’t damage it.
Lead-acid batteries have a DoD of 50%, which is much lower than the 90% Lithium-ion solar batteries can handle.
Why an Inverter?
The electrical energy produced by the solar panels is direct current (DC), which we can’t use to power our homes—for this, we need alternating current (AC). An inverter converts the DC that is received from the solar panels or the batteries into usable AC. This AC can either then go straight into the home, powering our lights and electronics directly, or it can be used to charge the solar batteries.
How it All Connects
Now that you know about some of the basics of how home solar power batteries work, let’s look at how the system operates as a whole.
First, the sun shines down onto the solar panel, mounted to the roof of your home—usually in the location where it’ll receive the most amount of sunshine. The produced DC energy flows into the inverter, which converts it into AC energy. This then either goes directly into the home or into the solar batteries.
In the diagram above, we see that excess power is being fed back into the grid, which is possible in some other countries, but is not yet available in South Africa.
Now that you know how solar batteries work, you’re ready to get started with them. At PHD Powerhouse, we have a range of solar batteries for sale that provide adequate solar storage for your home or business. Keep the load shedding blues away with a solar solution from us. Get in touch today!