Solar Builder

JAN 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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40 JA N UA RY / F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 8 T he days when a residential or com- mercial solar installer did not need to know the difference in perfor- mance between lead-acid and lithium-based batteries are over. Battery stor- age has emerged as an unavoidable comple- ment to solar, slashing peak charges and outwitting utility time-of-use charge games, not to mention saving microgrids from out- ages. Recommending battery chemistry to a customer is no less complicated than recom- mending a particular solar array solution. Depending on customer goals of low initial cost, ease of maintenance, frequency of use, depth of discharge, source of recharge energy, longevity and warranty, however, choices nar- row down rapidly. Lowest life-cycle cost, or total cost of ownership calculations, per- formed for site-specific use, also help custom- ers understand the variations in side-by-side options. "There are some applications where lead- acid still presents the lowest cost of owner- ship, so if you are just doing peak shaving or off-grid backup, you can use lead-acid as long as your usage is tightly controlled and meets the requirements of a lead-acid system," says Jason Zerbe, the systems marketing manager at Enersys. "In other cases the most impor- tant function of the battery is that it has 100 percent up-time. There, lithium starts to make sense because it can do more in a partial state of charge and because it is not necessary to fully recharge the battery periodically without affecting the lifetime of the battery, unlike with lead-acid." Historic leader: Lead-acid Lead-acid battery solutions are far from antiquated, still capturing over a third of the global battery market. While it is true that lead-acid batteries are heavier than alterna- tives, charge more slowly and generate hydro- gen gas as they age, lead-acid still provides a solid value at a low cost, and can disprove criticism of poor longevity in some configu- rations. Deep-cycle lead-acid batteries can last as long as a solar array, with designed use. Trojan Battery recently branded a line of batteries Chemistry Before installing solar + storage systems,know what's in the batteries By Charles W. Thurston

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