Sunlight will not only provide your solar panels with power, but it will also keep the batteries warm. The problem comes in the winter months when you do not have the hours of sunlight needed to keep your batteries warm. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your solar batteries warm, but the steps do vary depending on the type of battery you have.
Keeping Lithium-Ion Batteries Warm
A lot of solar batteries are lithium-ion because they can be safely installed in your home. This is good for the winter months as your home provides the shelter and warmth that the batteries need. In some cases, you will not have to take any additional steps to protect your batteries in the winter.
However, if your batteries are installed in an area of your home that can still freeze, you need to be careful. The area the batteries are installed in should not become lower than 32°F. These batteries can safely discharge in sub-freezing temperatures, but they should not be charged at these temperatures.
If your batteries are located in a freezing area, you need to place additional insulation around it. This will keep the battery warm in the winter and reduce the risks of sub-freezing charging.
Most of the lithium-ion solar batteries will have a battery management system. These systems can be used to activate external heating sources when the temperature gets too low. There are also some advanced lithium-ion batteries that have internal heaters. You will need to check what type of battery you have and if they have these systems.
Keeping Flooded Lead Acid Batteries Warm
Flooded or wet cell batteries are able to charge at lower temperatures than lithium-ion ones, but they do require more attention in the winter. This is due to the batteries not being installed in your home where the temperature can be regulated. These batteries are kept outdoors because they release hydrogen gas when in use and this can be explosive in concentrations of 4% or more.
To keep these batteries warm in the winter, they need to be placed in a battery box. These enclosures need 2” holes close to the top and bottom to ventilate them. If your box is inside an insulated shed or garage, you will not have to take any additional steps. However, if they are not, you will need to place insulation and thermal mass to stop temperature swings.
If you add insulation, you need at least an inch of space between the battery and the insulation. This allows air to circulate and will keep the temperature even across all the batteries. When these batteries charge, they will generate heat and the insulation keeps this head inside the enclosure.
Keeping Sealed Lead Acid Batteries Warm
These batteries are safe to be installed inside and this will help you regulate the temperature around it. Another good thing about these batteries during winter is that they freeze at lower temperatures than wet cell batteries. However, it is best to check the specs from the manufacturer regarding the minimum charging and discharging temperatures.
If the batteries are outside your home, you need to shelter and insulate them. An insulated enclosure is the best solution as it will keep your battery warm and dry.
During the winter, you need to keep your solar batteries warm to ensure they work as they should. The steps you need to take to do this will depend on the type of battery you have and where the battery has been installed. Battery enclosures are the best solution as they are insulated and made to keep your batteries warm.