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Battery Type
Battery Selection
Battery Failure
Battery Recovery
Battery Replacement

Not all batteries are created equally

Batteries are the core if not the heart of your alternative energy system. Be sure to start with the right stuff!  Batteries, next to generators are the component that are most often skimped on, but make or break your system. The damage to batteries are the single most often cause of failure within an off-grid system.  Batteries may be the most expensive component within your system.

When itís time to purchase or change batteries remember that all batteries are not created equally. Batteries are purpose constructed; they are optimized and constructed for specific applications and therefore the wrong type of battery will perform worse. If the  battery you are looking to use off-grid is also rated with cranking amps, the battery is not a true deep cycle battery but a compromise formulations such as used for RV and boating applications.

Quality is a decisive factor in performance. Fresh batteries in good condition offer all of their rated runtime and recharge cycles.  Improper battery types, batteries with inappropriate design or aging batteries, which have been discharged and recharged many times, accept less of a recharge over time which results in shorter runtime.

Because the depth of discharge is significant off-grid batteries should have heavy plates.  If you're purchasing a solid brand name product you can actually compare batteries by weight comparison. Heavier equals more lead and is better. 

Initial vs. Lifetime Battery Cost
Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart, Sears and others sell "deep cycle" marine battery for as low as $60 which may seem like a good deal.  After all, they are deep cycle batteries!  However, the use to which you will put these batteries will kill these batteries within two to three years.    Your cheapest alternative is an industrial battery such as used in battery powered floor cleaning equipment.  If you are starting off on your own and expect to make mistakes and think you might damage or destroy your first batteries start with these as they are designed for a similar usage-charge cycle.  Otherwise, allow us to recommend quality batteries built to last many years in an off-grid application.  We deal with a number of manufactures and will find the most appropriate battery for you at your location and application. All batteries age over time.  Battery aging is considerably slower if you charge your batteries before they are half depleted.  This is called 50% depth of discharge and will provide 4X the cycles vs. deep discharge.

Adding Batteries
If you intend to purchase what you can afford now and add more batteries later, think again. Mixing old and new batteries is never a good idea. Batteries age over time. When several are connected as single battery bank the batteries act as and are treated as a single battery by your equipment.  The limit of the battery array are the oldest, weakest battery within the array.  Batteries within a battery bank should be identical in age and model.   If your system is set up and configured to work with several battery banks a new, separate,  battery bank can be set up with different batteries.  However this gets complicated!

What happens, and why is it that the new battery that's been added that fails first?  As mentioned in the previous paragraph, your charging (and discharge) systems see your battery bank as one battery.  Within the battery bank the new battery which is much more chemically and electrically active and will overcharge before the 'old' batteries come up to full charge.  During the discharge cycle the new batteries will discharge and over-discharge before the others. This over-cycling will quickly age or destroy the new battery. There are are other reasons such as differing output and resistance between batteries but the above example loosely defines the issue.

Follow the link 'Battery Replacement' at the left side of this page.

We've become battery experts over time, there's a LOT to batteries and battery maintenance!  It is our hope that our information assists you and prevents early battery failure within your system.

Caution:  Inverters consume power while they wait for a load to come on. Most inverters are equipped with an automatic shut off feature that reduces the amount of standby power required while dormant.  This is frequently called "sleep mode,"  or "standby," or "power saver" or...  An inverter, even in the sleep mode continues to consume battery power!  Even an inverter that is turned off consumes power as the capacitors within will consume power.   Don't leave your inverter in a situation that can drain your batteries flat. It is best to turn off the power to the inverter over the winter for this reason.

ALL Lead acid batteries self discharge over time. At moderate temperatures self discharge can be as much as  5% per month. In colder Canadian winter temperatures self-discharge is considerably slower. Always store you batteries with a full charge!

Suggestion: Most inverters and some solar charge controllers have a low voltage disconnect feature.  Because batteries should never be taken down as low as the factory default settings on these devices we strongly suggest you raise cut-off level to less than 75% discharge. (Voltage will vary depending upon the type of batteries and the nominal voltage of your battery bank.)  Also, if you don't need it on, turn the breaker to the inverter off if you don't have an AC fridge.


Each time a battery is charged or discharged some of its life is consumed. Some processes take more from the battery than others.  The harder your battery is charged or discharged more your battery life is worn away.

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Last modified: January 12, 2023