Types of Solar Battery

Ten years ago, lead-acid batteries were the only real choice for those who wanted a solar battery.  Since then, there has been a revolution in energy storage, and lithium batteries are now the only real practical option for on-grid home batteries.  

But it wasn’t a sure thing that lithium would end up on top.  It had some competition on the way from other energy storage technologies.  These included flow and sodium nickel chloride batteries.  

Below is a summary of these four battery types, plus links to further information on each. 


1) Lead acid 

Despite lithium home storage being around for less than a decade, lead-acid batteries now seem like old-fashioned technology.  But since they were invented in 1859, I guess they are.

Lead-acid batteries are big and bulky and can require lots of maintenance.  While their upfront cost may not look too bad, they must be replaced far more often than other battery types.  This leads to a high average cost per kWh of stored energy, making them unsuitable for use as an on-grid home battery.

On the plus side, they’re dependable and have been used by off-grid households for decades.  While they are gradually disappearing, some are sticking with them because they’re a known quantity.

Read on and learn more about lead acid batteries  

reflow flow battery2) Flow 

A flow battery uses a liquid electrolyte.  Their name comes from the fact that a pump makes this fluid flow through the battery.

The first and only residential flow battery to appear on the Australian market was the ZCell.  This was designed by the Australian company Redflow.  One advantage this battery had was fire safety, as its bromide electrolyte was also a fire suppressant. 

While it was an innovative battery, it wasn’t a success and is no longer available for residential use.  Redflow has no current plans to release another flow battery for home use.  Because of this, flow batteries are unlikely to be a future option for home energy storage.   

Read on and learn more about flow batteries

3) Sodium Nickel Chloride GridEdge Quantum

Lithium had a potential competitor in the form of sodium nickel chloride batteries.  Some thought they could beat lithium on price because they only required low-cost materials.  But sodium nickel chloride batteries had two main problems.

The first was they need a high internal operating temperature, making it difficult to produce them in a size suitable for home use.  While a drawback, this was overcome with good engineering. 

The second problem couldn’t be solved and was the falling cost of lithium battery cells.  As sodium nickel chloride was unable to compete on price, there is now only a single producer in the world — the difficult-to-pronounce FZSoNick company.

While it shouldn’t be impossible to get a sodium nickel chloride battery, I’m unaware of anyone in Australia currently offering them.

Read on and learn more about Sodium Nickle Chloride batteries

lithium-ion-powerwall4) Lithium-ion

These days if you get a solar home battery, unless you really go out of your way to get something different, it will be lithium.  It’s now the only practical option for on-grid home energy storage.  While lithium batteries aren’t perfect, they reached their dominant market position mainly by beating the competition on cost and reliability.

While new competitors may appear in the future, lithium looks set to remain the only real choice for at least the next several years.

Read on and learn more about lithium-ion batteries or read reviews of Lithium-ion manufacturers.

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