Batteries, the heart of the system
Typically, the greatest attention of any of the solar electric system components will be devoted to the batteries. If batteries are neglected, degradation can occur at a fast pace. A battery industry wag once stated, "few batteries die a natural death, most are murdered." The following information relates to only lead acid batteries.

Cycling, Deep vs. Shallow
A cycle in the battery world occurs when you discharge a battery and then charge the battery back again to the same level. The battery is designed to absorb and give up electricity by a reversible electrochemical reaction. Ho deep a battery is discharged is termed "depth of discharge." A deep cycle occurs when up to 80 percent of the battery capacity is discharged and recharged. Deep discharge batteries have thicker plates of active material which have less overall surface area. This type is preferred for a PV system.

The discharge depth will have a good deal in determining the battery life. Shallow cycle our deep discharge batteries for the most cycles.

Four Charging Sources
Flexibility and independence are among the most significant benefits of a battery-based electrical system. Batteries can be recharged in a number of different ways.

  1. Generator and/or utility power, connected to the AC input of most Trace inverter models, turns the inverters into battery-charging power houses. For battery charging, many people use a generator and the unique three-stage, built in, battery chargers, which are designed by Trace to ensure fast and complete battery recharging. This combination results in up to a 3/4 reduction in running time for the generator. And while the generator is charging batteries, it can be powering heavy loads such as power tools, a washing machine, or a water pump. Renewable energy sources can also be harnessed to take the place of generators or utility companies as a source of energy.
  2. One of the world's best battery chargers is the sun. Solar electric charging systems are the essence of simplicity. Photovoltaic panels (also known as PV modules) produce DC electricity whenever the sun is shining. Because electricity is being produced at a molecular level (photons in light cause a spare electron in the silicon atom to move and create an electrical charge), there are no moving parts to wear out in a solar electric, or PV generator. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide rely on the sun to keep their batteries charged. With solar electric panels your charging system can be expanded at any time simply by adding more panels.
  3. The wind is another extremely viable source of electrical power for battery charging. A will-sited wind generator can provide ample power for remote homes and other off-grid applications. Because wind is a more intermittent resource than sunlight, battery banks in wind powered systems are often larger in order to accommodate the intervals between windy periods. Wind power is often used in conjunction with PV modules. Having two sources of renewable electricity makes for a very reliable and flexible battery charging system.
  4. Yet another common source of battery charging is microhydro (also known as minihydro). This method of electricity production directs falling water, such as a stream, through a small turbine, which in turn is connected to a generator or alternator. The actual amount of power generated by most microhydro installations at any one time is relatively small, from 100 to 2500 watts. Because the power is being generated around the clock, however, most microhydro systems far surpass similar sized PV systems in the total amount of power they generate for storage and use. 



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