Batteries are one of the complex parts of a solar system and are highly likely to run into problems. Considering the fact that they do not last as long as the solar panels, regular maintenance and adequate care is necessary to prolong their life and ensure efficient functioning.
The ultimate goal of battery maintenance is to enhance battery performance and life. Battery life depends on factors such as depth of discharge and storage temperature.
General maintenance tips to be followed in the case of solar batteries are as follows:
1. Check the fluid level
Checking the fluid level is important in the case of flooded lead acid batteries. 80% of battery related problems are caused due to sulfation. Low electrolyte level is a cause of sulfation.
The battery cap should be opened and distilled water should be added by ensuring that no metal surfaces are visible. Normally batteries have a ‘fill mark’ indicating the level of electrolyte that should be added.
2. Do not overcharge batteries
In order to avoid overcharging, it is essential to keep track of the charging time. Overcharging of batteries can
- Reduce battery performance
- Cause severe water loss
- Cause plate corrosion
3. Do not undercharge batteries
Undercharging can affect the sulphate material that connects to the discharge parts. Prolonged undercharging may cause the sulphate material to lose its performance thereby affecting battery functioning. So it is advisable to follow the procedure for charging provided by the service provider.
4. Clean batteries regularly
Battery terminals require regular cleaning with a mixture of baking soda and distilled water using a battery terminal cleaner brush. This is followed by rinsing the terminals with water. Ensure that all connections are tight and coat the metal components with a commercial sealant or a high temperature grease. Of course make sure to remove the clamps (negative first) before cleaning.
It is advisable to clean batteries once weekly.
5. Recharge batteries regularly
The best way to prolong battery life is to recharge it regularly. The sooner it is recharged, the better its life will be. It is very important to ensure that the battery is never completely discharge. This may significantly damage their life expectancy.
6. Use them safely
Safety has to be of high priority due to the fact that the battery chemicals are highly volatile. Effective ventilation has to be provided as suggested by the installer.
Make sure that you use thick gloves, protective eyewear and remove all metal items. This is done so that you don’t get electrocuted or burned by acid. To neutralise any acid during leaks, ensure that baking soda and water are placed near the batteries.