Understanding How Lithium-Ion Solar Battery Banks Work


Solar energy systems are becoming more and more common, providing many homeowners an opportunity to utilize affordable, sustainable energy. However, some people still don’t fully understand how lithium-ion solar battery banks work or how the entire system functions to provide power to homes and recreational vehicles. Continue reading to learn about the mechanics of lithium-ion solar battery banks and how these systems work for you.

The Main Components of a Solar Energy System

Before understanding the details of how your battery works, it’s a good idea to examine the different pieces that make up your entire solar power system. Each of these pieces serves a vital function in creating sustainable power for your home or cabin.

The most important piece you’ll need for your system are the solar panels. These come in a wide range of shapes, styles, and varieties, such as polycrystalline and monocrystalline. Many homeowners prefer monocrystalline panels for their simplicity and cost-effective construction. Solar panels connect directly to a charge controller, which serves a valuable purpose in your solar power system. The primary function of the charge controller is to act as a go-between for your solar panels and other parts of your system. Charge controllers safely and effectively distribute solar energy collected by the panels, sending it to the battery in a way that doesn’t overload it.

Another vital part of your system is the battery itself. The primary function of the battery in your home solar system is to store energy for when you need to use power during nighttime hours or when clouds or rain are obstructing the sun. Batteries may charge through your solar panels and charge controller, but as a backup, most solar power battery banks can charge with an AC adaptor or other similar charging device.

The final significant component of a solar panel system is the inverter. Since your battery pack, like others, stores DC power, an inverter will need to be connected to it. This will allow the energy to be converted to AC power that works for nearly all appliances in your home. While all these components work together to create a working power system, it’s important to focus on the batteries and how the pieces inside of these powerful packs work to bring power to your daily life.

How Do Solar Batteries Work?

While there are many different types of batteries, all with varying structures and chemical makeups, it’s crucial to understand how lithium-ion solar battery banks work. Lithium-ion batteries have several vital features that work together to create energy; the main pieces are the separator, electrolyte, anode, cathode, and both a positive and negative current collector. Nearly every battery—from the ones in your TV remote to the ones in your smartphone—utilizes positive and negative currents to operate, and a lithium-ion solar battery bank is no different.

The solar battery pack uses the electrolyte to carry negatively charged lithium ions from the anode to the cathode. At the same time, the electrolyte moves the positively charged ions from the cathode to the anode. This process occurs through the separator, and the transfer and movement of these ions help create a chemical reaction that the battery is able to convert into electrical power. Because these battery packs contain multiple ion cells, the current process activates through absorbing solar energy from your charge controller or using a direct current from something like a plug-in wall charger.

When your lithium-ion battery pack is not receiving solar energy or electrical power, the energy can drain just like in any other battery. One of the main reasons why lithium-ion battery packs are such a popular choice over lead-acid batteries or other similar devices with solar-powered systems is because they have a high depth of discharge.

The depth of discharge, or DoD, refers to the amount of energy your battery can use before you should charge it again. For example, if a battery has a depth of discharge of 80 percent, that means you should use 80 percent of the total battery capacity before recharging it. While you can always use 100% of a battery’s capacity, going beyond a safe DoD can risk damage, and potentially permanent damage, to your battery. One of the significant advantages of lithium-ion batteries is they generally have a high depth of discharge, usually around 75 – 80 percent. This high DoD makes them a good choice for solar panel systems since many people don’t drain the battery that much during hours when the solar panels and charge controller can’t keep a steady charge.

Further Advantages of Lithium-Ion Batteries

When you look at how a lithium-ion solar battery bank works, it’s easy to see the distinct advantages. However, there are several other notable factors to help you understand why one of these banks is the ideal choice for your system.

Lithium-ion batteries generally have a lengthy lifespan, often double or triple that of lead-acid batteries. This extended lifespan means that by keeping it in good condition and preventing common problems like overcharging, which your charge converter automatically helps prevent, your battery bank should last for well over a decade.

Because lithium-ion batteries contain all the chemical components they need inside the battery, such as the ions flowing from the anode to the cathode, they require little to no additional maintenance beyond keeping them clean, and no watering is required like with older lead-acid batteries. Most lithium-ion battery banks contain exceptionally high energy density, which means that the amount of energy the battery can store is high compared to the physical size of the battery itself.

One of the few noticeable disadvantages of these solar battery packs is that they come with a costly initial investment. However, thanks to their long lifespan, low-maintenance requirements, and the savings they provide for your utility bills, the upfront expenses for a lithium battery pack are returned in full, and they can actually help save you money in the long run.

BigBattery has a vast selection of 48-volt lithium solar batteries to serve as the foundation for your new solar power system. If you have any additional questions, comments, or concerns about lithium-ion solar battery banks, or you want to see which makes and models BigBattery has to offer, contact us today. A specialist will help you create an ideal system for your home, cabin, or recreational vehicle.