Plico Team 12/04/2022 10 min read

What Are the Different Types of Solar Batteries?

Solar batteries continue to exponentially rise in popularity, and we recently outlined many of the reasons why. However, when you’re researching the types of solar batteries including sizes, prices, how much power they supply, and specifications, you’ll notice that there is a selection to choose from. Which one should you choose? Let’s have a look at the most popular solar batteries in Australia. 


Lead-acid batteries

Lead-acid batteries are the oldest rechargeable battery, with their invention dating back to 1860. Until recent times, lead-acid batteries were the only choice for solar users wanting to store their generated energy. Homeowners can feel safe in the knowledge that what they’re investing in is a tried and tested form of storage. However, numerous detractions have made lead-acid batteries less popular (and appear slightly archaic).

To start with, when powering your home, you’re going to need a fleet of lead-acid batteries. With each unit taking up a significant amount of space, they accumulate to entire sheds of storage. They also need to be stored in a climate-controlled area, as heat decreases their lifespan. Compared to newer battery technology, a lead acid battery has a short cycle span: only 1500 – 3000 cycles. For context, Plico’s lithium-ion batteries have a 6000 cycle span, doubling the lifetime and providing a drastic cut in your expenditure. Additionally, lead-acid batteries need longer to charge than their lithium-ion counterparts and have a cooling down period of up to eight hours (which lithium batteries don’t need at all).

Lead-acid batteries are still utilised for off-grid solar power setups but have dwindled to insignificance for all other solar storage.


Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are quickly becoming the most prevalent rechargeable battery on the market. Why? Partly because their versatility is currently unmatched – lithium batteries are being used worldwide, from mobile phones to cars and to maximise the effectiveness of a solar panel system. They’re also tried and tested and at the cheaper end of the battery market, have higher cycle lives, and can discharge large amounts of energy for high power applications.

A disadvantage of lithium batteries is that they struggle in the heat. To avoid overheating issues, they shouldn’t be exposed to sweltering temperatures. In most parts of Australia, a lithium-ion solar battery should be able to cope fine. However, if you’re in a particularly scorching location, make sure you store them inside. Like pretty much all batteries, lithium battery performance and efficiency will slowly decline over time. Even so, they have one of the longest lifespans of any battery on the market.

You'll find a lithium-ion battery in our solar and battery packages.


Flow batteries

A more recently developed form of solar storage is the flow battery. Different flow batteries have different methods of charging and discharging electricity. You’ll need to do some in-depth research to see if they’re a viable option for you, but let’s touch on the main facts.

Flow batteries are cited as being durable and are able to be discharged to empty without negatively impacting their lifespan (this is not the case with most other batteries). This lifespan, however, is less than that of lithium-ion batteries – approximately 4000 cycles. Another major factor is cost. Flow batteries are in excess of $12,000, and you’ll still have the costs of installation and your other equipment, such as solar panels. That’s a lot of money for the average Australian household to find.


Hydrogen batteries

Hydrogen energy storage has been around for a long time, but not for residential use. It’s only just over a year that it’s become an attainable piece of equipment for Australian households. The land down under now has its own Australian-made hydrogen battery that’s being pitched for use in the typical home – the Lavo. Does it work as a legitimate form of solar energy storage?

For purposes of clarity, we’ll use the Lavo as our example. An initial positive to highlight is that it works well in heat, operating in temperatures up to 50ºc. It’s also durable – the Lavo team have cited it experiences minimal deterioration over time. Lavo’s major detraction is a big one – it only provides 5 kilowatts of power, which isn’t enough for typical on-grid daily use. That means you’ll need multiple batteries, however, Lavo’s battery is expensive, like, really expensive – we’re talking $34,750 kind of expensive.

So while a hydrogen battery is on the market, it’s still too weak, expensive and early in its development for it to be a worthwhile avenue for the average consumer.

In summary, of all the types of solar batteries on the Australian market, a lithium ion battery system is the most cost effective solution for residential solar installations.

Wanting to solidify your energy storage knowledge? Have a look at our blog on ways to store solar energy. Interested in learning about everything related to solar batteries? Check out our solar battery guide. Keen to find out is a solar system could save you hundreds of dollars on your electrical bills? Get in contact with one of the switched-on team members at Plico.


Update 25/11/22:

You may have recently seen in the news issues with solar batteries catching fire. These issues are specific to particular models of solar batteries. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a statement regarding LG solar batteries. Plico's solar + battery systems use Pylontech batteries, which have a long history of reliability and safety.

Read Plico's CEO Robbie Campbell's explanation of how this does not affect or involved Plico in any way.


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Plico Team

Plico is a leading Australian clean energy company building a sustainable energy grid for the future. Born and bred in WA, our innovative membership model puts power back into the hands of the community, allowing our members to save money, enjoy blackout protection and generate their own clean energy, all for one low weekly instalment.