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How Long do Solar Generator Batteries Last?

By SSK Admin November 12, 2021

How Long do Solar Generator Batteries Last

In keeping solar simple, battery life seems to be the bottom line.

So how long do solar generator batteries last?

The final answer depends on a variety of factors. We’ve done the research, and simplified the subject matter so that you can make an informed decision on your next purchase

How Long do Solar Generator Batteries Last

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Solar Generator Lifespan

Generator Batteries Explained

Since the battery is the most critical component needed to reap the rewards of a solar generator, it makes sense to select the best possible battery for your requirements. 

The battery capacity is the total amount of energy that the battery can store, measured in kilowatt-hours (KWh). Battery power indicates how much inverting power the energy storage system has, and is measured in Watts (W).

In short, capacity is the measure of the battery’s total energy store, and power is the measure of how much energy it can put out at once.

Battery Life

Battery life refers to the amount of time that the energy stored in the battery lasts. In other words, the amount of time that your battery can run before it needs to be recharged.

While battery capacity and power are the two main determining factors, the following aspects also influence battery life and explain fluctuation:

  • Battery quality and efficiency
  • The quality and quantity of time the battery is charged
  • Total energy expenditure through connected appliances
  • Atmospheric challenges such as extreme temperatures

A fully charged battery that is stored but not used will degrade and run down over time. So even if you’re not using it to power anything, the charge stored in a battery won’t last forever.

Can a solar generator be used while charging?

Most, but not all, solar generators can be used while charging. It’s important to check the manufacturer’s specifications on your specific battery.

Battery Lifespan

Batteries are complex devices with limited lifespans. The good news is that their life expectancy can be increased with efficient usage.

Solar battery lifespan is measured in the number of complete cycles. This is the maximum number of full uses a battery can undergo before its capacity falls to below 80% of the original capacity. 

Batteries that are charged or discharged more regularly have a shorter lifespan.

While most units last between 5 and 20 years, some manufacturers promise a 30-year lifespan to match solar generator lifetime expectancy.

The reason for the large range is that lifespan depends on a variety of factors including battery type, model, capacity, power, frequency of use, usage cycle, and environmental factors such as temperature.

Can a solar generator power a well pump?

You can supply sufficient energy to the pump with a solar generator, but some require more power than others. Be sure to check requirements before investment.

Influencing Factors

Battery Capacity

The battery capacity, charge, or load refers to the total amount of energy the battery can store. 

The higher the battery capacity, the longer it will last when powering appliances.

A fully charged battery can last anywhere from 1 to 5 days depending on usage.

Tips to Increase Battery Life:
  • Read and comply with the information provided by the manufacturers
  • Avoid completely discharging the battery
  • Don’t leave a battery discharged for a prolonged period
  • Disconnect the solar panels or wall plug once fully charged

Battery Power

The battery power indicates how much inverting power the energy storage system has. This is the maximum amount of power that the battery can deliver at a time.

Before purchasing a battery, you need to estimate how many watts of power you need. You can do this by simply looking at the wattage of every device you want to power and adding them together.

What can a 300-watt solar generator run?

Solar Generator Batteries Life Cycle

A standard 300-watt single solar generator can supply enough power to run a laptop, LED lights, a stereo, and a television. 

Usage Cycle

It is not recommended to allow a solar generator battery to run out or leave it charging once full. 

A usage cycle based on about 80% for a lithium-ion battery and 50% for a lead-acid battery would prolong battery life.

Environmental Factors

It is best to store your batteries at room temperature or protect them from extreme outdoor climates since atmospheric conditions can negatively affect the efficiency and lifespan of your battery.

Battery Type

Solar generator batteries are usually either lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries. We also included some information on flow batteries - for the future.

Lead-Acid Batteries:

These are the traditional, more affordable batteries. They tend to have a:

  • Lower depth of discharge and shorter charge-discharge cycles
  • Shorter lifespan and
  • Shorter warranties

in comparison to lithium batteries.

They also tend to take a long time to charge and require regular maintenance in return for reliability.

A 50% capacity charge cycle is recommended.

Gel Batteries 

Gel batteries are a type of sealed lead-acid battery, but in comparison they:

  • Allow more power to be packed into the casing
  • Don’t need maintenance 
  • Are safer than traditional lead-acid batteries

Can a solar generator power a space heater?

solar generator lifespan

As small and efficient as space heaters may be, they require a high capacity. The better option would be to indirectly power a space heater with solar energy stored in the battery.

AGM Batteries (Valve-regulated lead-acid battery + Absorbent Glass Mat technology Battery)

This is another variation of the lead-acid battery, but

  • They are sealed
  • Need no maintenance
  • Perform better in cold climates (Himalaya hikers, here we go?)
  • And have a longer standby life
Lithium-Ion Phosphate Batteries:

Lithium-ion, Lithium-ion phosphate, or Li-ion batteries are the current gold standard and most popular choice in solar generator batteries. Let’s just call them Lion batteries. But why are they better? 

  • They require no maintenance
  • They’re lighter, and therefore more portable
  • More energy efficient
  • Have longer charge-discharge cycles due to a deeper cycle
  • Lifecycles range from 200 - 500, 
  • Longer lifespan and
  • Longer warranties

It is advisable to keep to an estimated 80% usage cycle before recharge to prolong a lithium battery’s lifespan.

While Li-ion batteries are still more expensive than lead-acid batteries, their development has been driven in a positive direction as a result of the electric car industry. For a change, the higher demand brought about a substantial cost decrease, and higher efficiency levels mean a lower cost per kilowatt-hour in the long run.

This is why the Li-ion is crowned King after the battle of the batteries.

Flow Batteries

Flow Batteries are a fairly new development, using a saltwater-based electrolyte solution to store the sun’s precious energy.

They are larger and more expensive, so more often used for larger-scale storage rather than individual needs.

While this method has not been explored and developed to maximum capacity, we look forward to furthering technological advancements. 

Flow batteries

  • Contain no heavy metals, are therefore
  • More environmentally friendly and easier to recycle

Conclusion

One of the main aspects of keeping solar batteries simple is to keep them going.

At present, lithium-ion batteries are the best bet for solar generator energy storage. They offer the longest battery life and lifespan on an average usage cycle of 80%.

But times and tides change, with high hopes for the future of flow batteries.

Whichever you choose. The most efficient energy exchange is to keep the circuits flowing. On or off the grid.

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