It is no secret that 12v lithium-ion solar batteries are the best way to store solar energy in a small off-grid power system.
With the price of both complete solar kits and solar energy storage capacities continuing to drop, there has never been a better time to take advantage of lithium-ion technology.
Shop Solar Kits understands that an off-grid solar energy system is only as good as its ability to store electricity onsite. We have tinkered, tested, and sold thousands of lithium-ion batteries over the years, always striving to find the next best battery for solar storage.
Here, we outline what to look for when shopping for 12v lithium-ion batteries and then review our picks for the top five lithium solar batteries.
What to Look for in a 12V Lithium-Ion Solar Battery
You can use 12V lithium-ion batteries in golf carts, boats, and tons of other applications. While we focus on off-grid solar storage, there are six key features to consider about lithium-ion solar batteries before choosing the best battery for your application. So let's dive in.
Battery Capacity/How Long It Will Last
First and foremost, storage capacity is the most important thing to know about a 12v lithium-ion battery. Storage capacity is measured in watt-hours (Wh) or amp-hours (Ah) to approximate the battery's discharge run time.
Lithium-ion batteries come with the advantage of being able to discharge their capacity without damaging the system. As such, it is simple to calculate how long your battery will last.
Feel free to use our solar load calculator to calculate your average daily electrical demand based on the wattages and runtimes of your electronics and appliances.
Next, it is critical to verify a 12v lithium-ion battery’s estimated life cycle count before purchasing. Lithium solar batteries can be expensive, and life cycle counts help estimate the approximate lifespan of the storage.
Over time, batteries slowly degrade and lose a portion of their capacity to store electricity, known as the depth of discharge (DoD). Most commonly, lifecycles are an estimate of a number or range of full recharges before the battery reaches 80% DoD.
If a battery is rated at 1000Wh with 500 lifecycles at 80% DoD, then it can hold approximately 800Wh of electricity storage after 500 full uses.
All 12v lithium-ion batteries have an approximate shelf life which refers to the amount of time they can be left idle while maintaining their charge capacity. Sometimes, manufacturers refer to this as the maximum time between recharges, while others try to hide the term altogether.
A good shelf-life rating is critical if you plan to only use a 12v lithium-ion battery pack as an emergency source of power. In areas without sufficient sunlight, off-grid solar energy systems must have several 12v lithium-ion batteries on hand for extended periods of consumption.
If you use your lithium solar battery every day, then the shelf life isn’t nearly as important. In general, anything from 3 to 6 months is an average shelf life typical of high-quality lithium-ion batteries.
Of course, shelf life, lifecycles, and battery ratings mean nothing if your battery is defective. Like all electronics, lithium solar batteries may malfunction, so a good warranty is important to ensure the ongoing success of your off-grid system.
Long warranty periods, like seven, 10, and 12 years, can help you get the best return on investment for a lithium solar battery. Companies like Lion Energy provide lifetime warranties with some of their products. As always, it is important to read the fine print in a battery warranty and be careful not to do anything that would void a full refund.
Battery Management System (BMS) Features
Compared to AGM and lead-acid batteries, 12v lithium-ion batteries generally have more advanced battery management features. Advanced lithium-ion batteries with smart BMS temporarily absorb higher voltages and allow for highly efficient charging and discharging.
Generally speaking, smart BMS systems that automatically adjust electricity flows are considered premium features and designed to protect against possible damage to the system.
Thanks to recent developments, some of the newer lithium-ion batteries on the market make it easier to take complete control of the internal BMS. While some companies use an app (see KiloVault below), others use an onboard LED or LCD screen.
Last but not least, consider a 12v lithium battery’s temperature ratings before finalizing your decision. If you plan to bring your battery into cold weather situations (in a van, RV, or home), it is good to know that your technology performs without leaving you stranded in the cold.
There are a few temperature ratings that are important to pay attention to. Namely, batteries have charging, discharging, and storage temperature ratings indicating how to use the banks safely while maintaining normal operating conditions.
Top 6 Lithium-Ion Solar Batteries - Pros & Cons
Now that we’re speaking the same lingo, let’s get to it! Here are our top five lithium-ion solar batteries.
1. SOK 200Ah 12V LiFePO4 Battery
Although they are a new player on the market, we feel that the SOK Battery's 200Ah model is the best 12v lithium-ion battery for solar storage. The 200Ah SOK battery is in a class of its own, delivering massive storage potential at an unbeatable price.
In fact, the high levels of interest for this battery may make it hard to find one, and there are no signs of demand slowing down soon.
At just over $1,000, this lithium-ion SOK battery holds over 2600Wh of electricity in its durable metal casing. Compared to other batteries on this list, the cost per watt of the SOK 200AH battery is unmatched.
Plus, it is rated for 4,000-8,000 lifecycles. Even with daily full discharges of the battery, the SOK 200Ah battery is built to last well beyond its seven-year warranty.
Of course, people with small solar energy systems in vans and RVs may be overpaying for unnecessary storage capacity with SOK’s 200ah model. That's why it can share the top spot on this list with SOK’s 100ah 12v lithium-ion battery. The 100ah model can still hold and efficiently discharge 1280 Wh of electricity with an extremely low cost-of-entry.
SOK Battery Pros:
- Extremely low cost compared to similar batteries
- High-quality BMS
- Durable build, strong features
- Lifetime of 4,000-8,000 cycles
SOK Battery Cons:
- New company, products have not stood the test of time
- Customer support may be limited
- The 7-year warranty is good but could be better
2. BigBattery 48V KONG
Our 48V KONG Lithium Battery Banks are designed around NEW LiFePO4 cells complete with a BMS & 300A fuse. This battery is perfect as a drop-in replacement for lead-acid batteries in your off-grid home, energy storage system, etc. providing you with more capacity, shorter charge times & longer life!
The 48V KONG comes with pre-installed Anderson connections making it ready to go for quick installation to any inverter, charge controller or bus bar. With the SB175 Anderson to ring terminal cable already included, you'll be up and running in no time!
3. Battleborn 100ah LiFePO4 Battery
Commonly compared to the Lion UT 1300, the Battleborn 100Ah battery is our next best 12v lithium-ion battery. Battleborn is one of the best-known manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries in North America with many brand-loyal customers in RVs, vans, and off-grid homes.
The Battleborn 100ah battery holds 1200Wh of electricity for 3,000-5,000 cycles. These features are consistent with many other similar batteries on the market; however, Battleborn’s battery typically comes out to a higher price, size, and weight.
Learn more about the BattleBorn 100ah battery in our complete review here.
Battleborn 100Ah Pros:
- Well-known brand
- 10-year warranty
- 200Ah surge protection for 30 seconds
- Charging temperatures as low as 25°F
- Extremely durable build
Battleborn 100Ah Cons:
- Larger and heavier than similar batteries
- Slightly higher upfront cost than competing options
4. AIMS Power 12V LiFePO4 Battery
Up next, the AIMS Power 12V LiFePO4 battery is a lightweight, low-cost option for a premium 12v lithium-ion battery. AIMS power includes a 10-year warranty, and this battery is rated to last over 4,000 lifecycles. Plus, at only 31 pounds, this compact device comes at a similar weight to other great RV, van, and marine batteries where every ounce counts.
AIMS Battery Pros:
- Compatible with other AIMS branded solar components
- Very low price point
- Carrying handle
- 4,000 life cycles
- 10-year warranty
AIMS Battery Cons:
- Bulkier than most batteries
- Limited exterior battery protection
- 10-year warranty
5. Renogy 12V 100Ah Smart LiFePO4 Battery
At number five is the Renogy 12V 100AH Smart LiFePO4 Battery, another great lithium-ion storage solution from a well-known DIY solar brand. Renogy manufacturers some of the most user-friendly portable solar panels and charge controllers worldwide, and they easily complement this 100Ah battery in a small, off-grid solar energy system.
At just 28 pounds, Renogy’s battery is the second lightest on the list, just behind the Lion UT 1300, which makes it great for portable power.
With a smart BMS that includes temperature and charging protection, this is a premium product with only a few shortcomings. Notably, warranty and rated lifecycle periods are lower in this Renogy battery than in other 12v lithium-ion batteries on this list.
Renogy Battery Pros:
- Well-known brand, good customer support
- Compatibility with Renogy products
- 1280 Wh of battery life in a small, lightweight bank
Renogy Battery Cons:
- Low, 5-year warranty
- High cost compared to other options
- 2,000 lifecycles much lower than competitors
6. Honorable Mention: The White Rhino from BigBattery
This is not just another lithium battery: This is “The WHITE RHINO”. The Worlds thinnest & strongest wall-mounted lithium battery!
The White Rhino used the safest (LFP) Batteries in the world paired with our Quad-Redundancy Safety Platform. Designed specifically for ALL Off-Grid Applications; The Rhino boasts the widest “Temperature Operating Range” of (-4 F – 149 F) so it will work in your Home, Garage, Trailer or Shed anywhere in the lower-48.
The 48V White Rhino Powerwall comes with pre-installed Anderson connections making it ready to go for quick installation to any inverter, charge controller or bus bar. With the SB175 Anderson to ring terminal cable already included, you'll be up and running in no time!
Ultimately, 2021 is an exciting year for lithium-ion solar batteries as solar storage solutions continue to become better and more affordable. We hope that this guide helped you choose the best 12v lithium-ion battery for your off-grid solar energy system.
If you still have questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out or give us a call at 877-242-2792. We'd be happy to help you choose the best lithium-ion solar battery for your needs!
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