ACDC Express

How to Pick the Best Battery?

When it comes to backup power solutions, a large percentage of the price is tied up in energy storage. Batteries make use of chemical reactions to store energy for later use, with different battery types changing one or more facets of the chemical process. While it isn’t necessary to know the complete inner workings of the various batteries, or where they came from, some knowledge can help you to determine the best battery for your specific energy requirements and usage.

Lead Acid Battery

Lead-acid batteries (Like in your car)

Lead-acid batteries were the first type of rechargeable battery ever created. Invented in 1859 by French physicist Gaston Planté, these batteries have a relatively low energy density but are cheaper than the alternatives. They are still in use today where high surge currents are required and bulky batteries are not a concern. Motor vehicles still use them for the starter motor. Because of their price, they are often used even when a better energy density would be beneficial.

Part of the chemical reaction inside this battery type results in lead sulphate when it is discharged. This becomes a problem when the battery is deeply discharged or is already at low energy levels when you make use of it again. A process called battery sulphation can occur, where large crystals of lead sulphate harden, meaning they are permanently removed from the material that can be used to store energy. (You can read more about this issue here.)

To avoid this, don’t discharge your lead-acid battery below 50%, and don’t use it for backup power if it hasn’t been fully recharged. If you can ensure this, your lead-acid battery will have a much longer lifespan.

Benefits:

  • Inexpensive compared to newer technologies.
  • Good power-to-weight ratio.
  • Supplies high surge currents.
  • Limitations:
  • Low energy density.
  • Bulky.
  • Gets damaged when not allowed to recharge fully before re-use.
Gel Battery

Gel batteries (great for quad bikes!)

It took more than 60 years for lead-acid batteries to be improved upon, with the invention of the gel battery. Gel batteries are one of two valve-regulated lead-acid battery designs, commonly known as sealed lead-acid batteries. While still making use of lead and acid, the introduction of silica dust makes the electrolyte a thick, putty-like gel.

Gel batteries can be stored in any orientation and offer a low-maintenance energy storage solution with vibration and shock resistance. These batteries are often used in off-grid applications, as well as motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.

These batteries should be paired with a charger that is designed for them. Overcharging a gel battery can result in a loss of water due to evaporation and because they are sealed, you cannot add water to replace what is lost. Similarly, using them in very hot environments can cause the putty to harden and shrink away from the contacts.

Benefits:

  • Shorter recharge time than lead-acid batteries.
  • Can be used in any orientation.
  • Shock and vibration resistant

Limitations:

  • Can be damaged if overcharged.
  • Increased price over lead-acid.
Lithium Ion Phosphate

Lithium-ion batteries (Like in your smartphone)

Lithium is the metal with the lowest density and the greatest electrochemical potential and energy-to-weight ratio, making it a great choice for batteries. 

In the 1970s, the first lithium-ion batteries were available commercially, many years after the first experiments with lithium batteries started in 1912. Lithium-ion batteries had relatively low cycle lifespans and could overheat and catch fire. 

Our batteries make use of lithium iron phosphate. While iron phosphate has a lower energy density than alternative polymers, the life cycle increases four to fivefold, and the risk of overheating and combusting is completely removed as the material is incombustible. On top of this, less toxic materials are used and it doesn’t make use of any rare earth metals.

These batteries offer long cycle life and high safety. Some batteries can offer over 10,000 cycles of charging and discharging!

These batteries are often used in home energy storage systems, emergency lighting, electric cars, caravans, motorhomes and boats.

Benefits:

  • Great battery safety.
  • Long lifespan.
  • Lower human and environmental impact than alternatives.

Limitations:

  • Lower energy density than lithium cobalt.
  • Expensive.

We hope that now that you are equipped with this information, you will be able to pick the battery that is best for your requirements. Our sales staff and product specialists are happy to discuss your energy needs and options with you. Ask in-store or visit one of our customer days!

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