Nearly every type power generating system also has a method of storing energy. Such systems, when tied to an energy grid, can generally accept excess power and give it back as needed. Systems not tied to a grid, however, require battery banks, either for full operation or in the case of an outage. Typically, battery banks will be charged by the ...
While batteries come in a tremendous range of types and sizes, the primary (and most important) designation is their intended use: daily cycle service or standby service. This is precisely why car batteries shouldn’t be used for renewable energy system storage.
Batteries categorized as deep cycle are specifically designed to repeatedly discharge up to 80% of their power capacity, making them the wise choice for “off grid” power systems. Deep cycle batteries can included sealed and flooded lead-acid types, as well as the more modern lithium-ion and sodium-ion types.
While these batteries are designed for deep cycling, most designs of this type will have a longer lifespan if used in shallower cycles.
Alternatively standby power batteries are preferred for grid-based systems with battery backups, as they are designed to supply power loads only occasionally. Built to supply large loads of energy in critical moments - like power outages - these batteries stay at full charge most of the time, and require very little energy to maintain such a charge.
Standby power batteries will have a limited lifespan when discharged frequently, but if kept in float conditions, can see significant longevity. Because of their low cost to produce, low rate of self-discharge, and lack of maintenance required, AGM batteries are the most typically used for standby power.
In the absence of renewable energy sources, or in cases of emergency, AC battery charges can be used with generators to charge batteries when other options are unavailable. High quality chargers are essential to maintaining battery health, and are recommended any time you plan to charge batteries from an engine generator.
Charges like the IOTA DLS feature current limit, thermal, and overload protection, and safeguard against low line voltage spikes from AC, as well as reverse-polarity and short circuits from DC. These chargers work efficiently and quickly at full rated output, then work to maintain battery health by using only the output necessary, reducing to milliamps as required.
As a DC supply, these types of chargers use very clean output power, and only supply the amounts required by the battery load. This means that when not in use, the charger is essentially turned off (which drastically minimizes electricity use).
Many charges will also provide a PFC (power factor correction) portion of their design for efficient energy draw, with a power factor above 0.9 (at full load) and operating efficiency higher than 80%. Many chargers can also be specially wired to increase voltage (in series) or amperage (in parallel), or in combination.
Battery Enclosures are designed to safely store deep cycle batteries commonly used in renewable energy systems. You can select the proper enclosure for the number and size of batteries in your specific project, and if needed, use multiple, side by side enclosures for larger battery banks.
Metal enclosures are listed for indoor use in Canada and the U.S. The Midnite Solar MNBE-A, MNBE-C, and MNBE-D are grey, powder-coated steel battery enclosures with locking MNBE-A doors. The MNBE-D3R and MNBE-8D2x2 are outdoor enclosures of white aluminum. Depending on which battery it is designed for, the MNBE-C comes with two, three, or four shelves. Additional shelves can be added to the MNBE-C and MNBE-D.
The Midnite Solar MNBE-8D2x2 DELUXE enclosure includes one 250 A breaker, two 12” 4/0 AWG cables, and one 36” 4/0 AWG cable for interconnecting batteries. There is also space for up to 4 MNDC breakers. The Midnite MNBE-8D2x2 enclosures can also be placed side-by-side or stacked two high. The MNBE-8D2x2 model enclosures hold two 8D or 4D batteries on each shelf; a total of four batteries per enclosure. The MNBE-8D2x2 BASIC has space for one 175 A or 250 A, and up to four MNDC breakers (not included).
QuickBox plastic battery enclosures are specifically designed for backup and off-grid power supplies, construction, heavy-duty marine use, etc. These enclosures can hold L16, 4D, 8D, GC2 and similar batteries in various end-to-end or side-by-side configurations. These plastic enclosures are acid resistant, and intended for indoor use only.
When an inverter is connected to a battery, low voltage systems can actually have a very high current through the cables, as seen with large AC load devices like microwaves and washing machines, which can cause a draw over over 100 A from an inverter on a 12 VDC battery. Even larger motors can draw 300 or 500 A upon startup.
If cables from battery bank to inverter are too small in these situations, the current becomes limited and can fail to supply the necessary energy. Also, the correct size cables will impose less resistance, which in turn maximizes efficiency.
Copper lugs made with tin plated copper tubing and ⅜” holes, crimped or soldered to stranded cable, is the most recommended type of cabling. Additionally, heat shrink tubing, which will melt and seal wires under heat to protect against corrosion and moisture, can be used to insulate lugs and compression terminals. This tubing is sold in 6” lengths.
Use battery cables made with flexible, stranded, UL-listed copper wire with 3/8” diameter lugs between battery bank and fuse, power center, or inverter. These cables can also be fitted with 5/16” lugs. The standard marking white heat shrink tubing on black wire for negative, and red heat shrink tubing for positive.
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