5 Types of Commercial Batteries Used in Energy Projects | EnergyLink
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5 Types of Commercial Batteries Used in Energy Projects


Picking the ideal battery for your energy project is important. Getting to know the battery types and choosing the best one is crucial to finding the right solution to your energy use problems. This article will take you through four main types of batteries used in energy projects and give you an overall of the pros and cons of them.

1. Lead Acid

Lead acid batteries are the oldest battery type used. Until very recently, it was the only practical battery technology for storing solar electricity, according to Solar Quotes. Lead acid batteries are widely used in cars to provide the high current required by automobile starter motors. It is the same type of battery that you have in your cars, but the ones used for energy projects are usually much taller. This type of battery is also rechargeable, with a 50% to 95% charge/discharge efficiency.

The main benefits of lead acid batteries include:

  • The technology is mature, so they are reliable for energy projects.
  • They are also inexpensive, compared to other newer types of batteries.
  • Lead acid batteries are the most successful batteries in recycling.

The main drawbacks are:

  • The size of lead acid battery is large, so it takes up a lot of space
  • They also have a low cycle life. Depending on how many times you charge and discharge them, they typically last between 2 to 8 years at most.
  • They have a depth of discharge of around 60%, meaning that after you use 60% of their capacity, you have to recharge them.
  • They perform the best at 20°C, or 68°F. If their surrounding temperature is above, their performance and lifespan will decrease.
  • There are also environmental concerns for the lead used inside the batteries.

2. Lithium-ion

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in your smartphones and laptops. They can also be used in electric cars. Lithium-ion batteries can be discharged deeper and have a longer lifespan than lead acid batteries. They are at 80% discharge efficiency and have a lifespan of 13 to 18 years.

The main benefits of lithium-ion batteries include:

  • Besides the longer lifespan and efficiency, the price is expected to be lower in the next few years as the production of this type of battery becomes easier.
  • Lithium-ion cells cause little harm to the environment and humans when disposed.
  • They are well-suited for modern fuel gauge applications.

The main disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries are:

  • They are fragile and require a protection circuit to maintain safe operation.
  • The technology is not fully mature. If used inappropriately, carry a risk of causing a fire.
  • Despite a potential decrease in price in the future, the price of this battery is still pretty expensive to manufacture.

3. Flow

Flow batteries are a relatively new type of battery emerging in the market. They are called flow batteries because they have a water-based solution of zinc-bromide sloshing around inside them, according to Solar Quotes.

The main advantages of flow batteries are:

  • Their biggest strength is that they have a 100% depth-of-discharge. This means they can be entirely discharged in a cycle with no negative effects on the lifespan.
  • They are well suited to large size applications from several kW to even MW. When applying them to solar energy, the capacity of flow batteries is actually pretty promising.
  • They can tolerate extreme weather conditions, up to 50°C, or 122°F.
  • When the power runs out, it is cheap to get them refurbished.
  • The electrodes used inside the battery are also environmentally-friendly.

The main disadvantages of flow batteries included:

  • The price is pretty expensive compared to the two types mentioned previously.
  • Its lifespan is actually a little shorter than lithium-ion batteries.
  • Unless it is for large applications, it is not worth it for smaller applications.

4. Sodium Nickel Chloride

Sodium nickel chloride is another new battery type. Compared to other battery types, this one is the newest and safest. The chemistry used inside these batteries makes it pretty safe and reliable.

The main benefits of sodium nickel chloride batteries include:

  • They can operate from -20°C to 60°C, or -4°F to 140°F.
  • They are fully recyclable with no toxic or dangerous chemicals to humans and the environment.
  • There is no fire risk come with these batteries.
  • Larger lithium-ion battery systems need to have active cooling, but these batteries do not require an internal cooling system.

The main drawbacks of sodium nickel chloride batteries included:

  • Their expected cycle life is around 3,500 cycles. While the cycle life for lithium-ion batteries is between 4,000 to 10,000.
  • It only has an 80% depth-of-discharge, meaning the power inside cannot be fully used.
  • It is also pretty expensive to use, even for large projects. Its cost-per-kWh is much higher than lithium-ion, despite the benefits it offers.

5. Lithium Iron

Lithium Iron is one of the newest advancements in battery technology. Energy companies are especially thrilled with its potential applications because of its different properties.

As Newcastle Systems notes, phosphate based technology has far better thermal and chemical stability, which makes it safer than Lithium-ion technology. Lithium phosphate cells are incombustible in the event of mishandling during charge or discharge, they are more stable under overcharge or short circuit conditions and they can withstand high temperatures without decomposing. When abuse does occur, the phosphate based cathode material will not burn and is not prone to thermal runaway. Phosphate chemistry also offers a longer cycle life.

Benefits of Lithium Iron batteries include:

  • Most stable
  • Good density
  • Long life
  • Economical


Interested in Batteries?

These are the four main types of commercial batteries. If you are considering installing an energy project for your business and you are unsure which type of batteries you should use, click here to contact our specialists to obtain more information.

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