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Batteries

Storage batteries are the heart of all stand alone wind/PV or inverter electrical systems. Their function is to balance the outgoing electrical requirements with the incoming power supply. They offer a reliable source of electricity which can be used when solar or wind power is not available. Batteries are able to provide short term power output many times higher than the charging source output. In diesel generator systems they allow power to be available 24 hours/day but mean that the generator need only run for short periods to charge the battery.

Battery Capacity

This is how much electrical energy the battery can deliver and is measured in ampere hours (Ah) when uniformly discharged over a given period of time. eg. a 120Ah @ 100hr rate battery will be fully discharged in 100 hours by a 1.2 A current.

If discharged at a higher rate (by a higher current) then battery capacity is reduced considerably. The maximum charge/discharge current should be less than 10% of battery Ah capacity.

Lower temperatures significantly reduce battery capacity (figures are at 25 deg C).
The older a battery becomes, the lower will be the capacity that can be obtained from it.
The capacity of the battery bank needed depends upon

  • amount of storage required
  • types of charging source
  • maximum charge & discharge rates
  • temperature of operation.
  • The one requiring largest capacity will dictate battery size.

Battery Life

This is measured in number of discharge/charge cycles rather than years. The more deeply the battery is discharged the lower the number of cycles it will last for.

The percentage depth of discharge (DOD) of a battery means how much of the available power in the battery is used before recharge. Although deep cycle batteries can be discharged by 80% of their rated capacity (80% DOD); designing for less than 50% gives much longer battery life.

Battery Regulation

Overcharging a battery raises the temperature of the electrolyte, causing excessive gassing, loss of distilled water and eventually damage to the plates. Consequently, use of a suitable charge regulator is necessary with any battery charging system to limit charging current as the battery voltage rises.

Excessive discharge of a battery can also lead to permanent damage. If a battery is close to its fully discharged state it should be recharged immediately (eg. by using a generator & charger) - or if that is not possible all loads switched off until the battery can be charged.

A system voltmeter is recommended and low voltage alarms and load disconnection devices are available.

Equalisation

Batteries need to be regularly boost charged and allowed to ‘gas’ freely for an hour or so. This equalises individual cell voltages within the battery and helps avoid electrolyte stratification.

Efficiency

No battery is 100% efficient. Energy is lost in storage, charging and discharging. With new cells efficiencies of ~ 90% can be expected, however this decreases with age, sulphationand stratification.

To maximise efficiency, batteries should be kept at room temperature, and sized correctly for their purpose, both to minimise self discharge, and to prevent them being charged and discharged too rapidly.

Sulphation is caused by a battery being left in a discharged state for a period. Stratification is caused by low cycling allowing the battery electrolyte to settle into layers of different densities. It can be prevented by regular equalisation charges.

Battery Care

The battery bank should be installed, preferably on its own, in a weather & frost protected, well ventilated shed or other enclosed area. Ideal temperature is ~ 20 ºC and should not be more than 43 ºC.

For optimum performance, batteries should all be of the same brand, age and amp-hour capacity within a battery bank.
Proper battery connections should be used, designed for high currents & long life. Connections should be tight and covered with petroleum jelly to prevent corrosion.
Batteries produce explosive hydrogen gases during charging, so avoid sparks or flames. They contain corrosive chemicals.
Utmost care must be taken whilst working with batteries.

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Lepton Energy Solutions was established in 2012 dealing mainly with the Import, Export, Trade, Supply and Installation of, Water Pumps, Power Generator sets Solar Power Products, Water Treatment equipment and associated items. Our equipment are well established brands sourced from overseas manufacturers and local dealers.

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