Solar panel projects have always used lead-acid batteries, but in recent times, lithium-ion
batteries have become more popular in the market.
In the coming times, it is possible that sales of lithium batteries may exceed lead-acid batteries. In such a scenario, many people may wonder which battery to choose.
Lead-acid or Lithium-ion?
You have to answer that question yourself, but you should have knowledge about both. In this article, I will tell you the positive and negative points of both types of batteries i.e lead-acid
and lithium batteries.
I will explain each point, which many brands may not mention because they have to sell their
Lead Acid Battery
A lead-acid battery is the first ever created rechargeable battery. It was invented by French physicist Gaston Planté in 1859. These types of batteries have low energy density and shorter life compared to new modern batteries.
However, due to their easy availability and reliability, they are used in almost every application.
Advantages of Lead-acid Battery
The only advantage that seems to be apparent is that lead-acid batteries are cheaper compared to
Disadvantages of Lead-acid Battery
If we talk about the disadvantages of lead-acid batteries, the list is quite long.
- Maintenance – Firstly, let’s start with the maintenance of lead-acid batteries. The maintenance of lead-acid batteries is high, which means that you have to spend a significant amount of time on them.
Every few months, you have to fill it with water in it. And if you have set up a large project with many lead-acid batteries, it means that you will have to refill them every few months, as this is a time-consuming process.
- Slow Charging – Lead acid batteries take around 8-10 hours to fully charge if they have been completely used.
Suppose you have disconnected your home from the grid and are entirely dependent on solar energy. During the day, your appliances will run on solar panels, and your battery will also charge. Let’s say you have used all the backup power during the night, and the next day is cloudy. Due to the cloudy weather the next day, your battery backup will not be able to charge because lead acid batteries require 8-10 hours to charge.
- Battery Backup – If you use the battery, in the way mentioned in the previous point, on a regular basis for a long period of time then over time your battery life will decrease.
- Heavyweight – A lead-acid battery typically weighs around 50-60 kg. So, suppose you have installed a complete system with multiple lead-acid batteries for extended backup. In that case, the weight of each battery adds up, making the entire system significantly heavy.
Assuming that you are referring to storing 8-10 batteries in a large system, it will require a considerable amount of space. Let’s say it will take up as much space as a room.
Furthermore, the area where you store the batteries will always need to be allocated for them, and it may be challenging to clean the area properly due to the acid used in the batteries. This could cause damage to the area where the batteries are stored.
- Acid & Fumes – Lead-acid battery contains acid inside them. Whenever you refill them with water, if you overfill, the water comes out with acid and damages the surrounding area.
It damages the outer body of the battery, the floor on which the battery is placed, and even the trolley on which the battery is kept.
- Also, lead-acid batteries emit harmful fumes and gases. It is never recommended to install the entire setup of a lead-acid battery in the same room where you live. It is always advised to install it outside, where the gases can escape to the outside environment.
- Depth of discharge – You cannot fully use a lead-acid battery. If you continue to use it until it is completely empty, its life will gradually decrease, and it will die.
Then you have to connect it to a special inverter, not the normal one used in our homes, with high power, you have to recharge it again to revive the battery.
These are all the disadvantages of using lead-acid batteries.
The lithium-ion battery is also a type of rechargeable battery that is made up of lithium, as suggested by its name.
While overcoming all the disadvantages of lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries have started entering the market.
Advantages of Lithium-ion Battery
Let’s take a look at some advantages of lithium batteries.
- Lifecycle – First and foremost is their lifecycle. If we talk about the lifecycle of lead-acid batteries, a battery with a 5-year warranty typically lasts for 7-8 years. However, lithium batteries are known to last up to 10-12 years. The lifecycle of lithium batteries is more than lead acid batteries.
- Low Maintenance – whether we say low maintenance or zero maintenance. As I explained to you in lead acid batteries, you have to refill water every few months, but in lithium batteries, there is no such thing to do.
Once you purchase a battery, connect it and forget about it. For the next 5, 10, or 15 years, you don’t have to do anything as long as the battery continues to work.
If a little dust accumulates on it, you can sweep it away with a broom or wipe it with a cloth, and that’s your only headache. Apart from that, you don’t have to do anything with it.
- Fast Charging – While a lead-acid battery takes 8-10 hours to fully charge, a lithium battery takes 4-5 hours to fully charge. So that means, during cloudy days or frequent power cuts, the battery gets charged fast.
- Lightweight – As I mentioned earlier, a lead-acid battery weighs around 50-60 kg. But a lithium battery weighs between 30-50 kg.
Some of you may say that there is not much difference between 30-50 and 50-60. But the difference lies in the fact that one lithium battery is equivalent to 4-5 lead-acid batteries in terms of backup. So, to clarify, the weight of 5 lead-acid batteries would be approximately 300 kg, whereas you would need to install only 1 lithium battery weighing 30-50 kg for the equivalent backup.
- Less Space – Additionally, you would also benefit from requiring less space. Let’s say previously your plan required you to install 8-10 lead-acid batteries, which would have taken up a lot of space in the room.
However, with lithium batteries, you only need to install 2 batteries and they also come with a trolley that allows you to stack one battery on top of the other.
- No Acid/Fumes – A lithium battery does not use any acid and does not emit any harmful gases.
- High Energy Density – A major benefit of these batteries is that they have a high energy density, which means that you get more battery backup compared to lead-acid batteries.
- Deeper Depth of Discharge – Another advantage is that you can achieve a deeper depth of discharge with these batteries. In other words, with lead-acid batteries, as I mentioned earlier, you can’t fully utilize them. With these batteries, you can fully utilize them without any issues arising from their discharge.
Additionally, If you do not charge the battery over time, it will not have any effect on the life of the battery.
- These are all advantages that counteract the disadvantages of lead-acid batteries, which is why lithium batteries are becoming popular in the market nowadays.
Disadvantages of Lithium-ion Battery
However, it is not the case that lithium batteries have no drawbacks. There are also some drawbacks, and these are
- Expensive – If you install a system of 10 lead-acid batteries of 150Ah, it will cost you around 1.5 lakhs rupees. However, if you opt for lithium batteries for the same backup, you will have to spend approximately 3-4 lakhs rupees for the same system.
As you can see, the cost is significantly higher for lithium batteries. If you observe over time, lithium batteries tend to have a longer lifespan than lead-acid batteries. So, after a few years, you would need to replace the entire lead-acid battery system, which would add to the cost.
Even then, the cost of lithium batteries is slightly higher than the overall cost of lead-acid batteries.
- Battery Life – The discussions about battery life that we are having right now are either based on information provided by the brand or from research. So far, people have not used these batteries for a longer period of time.
For instance, I am stating that the life of a lithium battery lasts for 10-12 years. Since no one has used these batteries for 10-12 years, we cannot claim how long their life will be.
It is possible that their life may be slightly less or more.
- Resale Value – If you have used a lead-acid battery for 5-8 years and it has become damaged, and you are thinking of buying a new battery, then the shopkeeper will deduct some money for the old battery in exchange and give you a new one.
However, lithium batteries have no resale value. Once the battery is damaged or its life is over, it can only fetch a few pennies. Its resale value is much lower than that of lead-acid batteries.
Now that I have explained it to you in detail, the decision is yours to make.
But I would also like to mention that lithium battery technology is still new, and it is possible that this technology may be replaced by another type of battery technology in the coming years.
Let me explain to you with an example.
You must be aware that earlier big-sized TVs were used in our homes, and everyone had them. Then, the era of LCD TVs came, but it lasted for only 2-4 years because many drawbacks were noticed in LCD TVs.
Later, a new technology called LED TV was introduced, and nowadays, all the TVs we use are LED TVs. So, LCD technology was a new technology at that time, but it could not sustain for more than 2-4 years.
The same thing could happen in the case of lithium batteries too. It is a new technology, but scientists are still working on better technologies, and in a few years, a new technology may replace lithium batteries.
It’s up to you to decide now. Here, I can recommend one thing to you. If you want to install a small system that requires 2 or 4 batteries, then you can stick to lead-acid batteries.
However, if you want to install a large system that requires 8-10 or more batteries, then you can use lithium batteries
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