High Tide Technologies Is Moving To Lithium Batteries
High Tide Technologies is moving to Lithium batteries and their appropriate charge regulators for all its standard solar-powered installations. Lithium batteries have many advantages, but until recently have been cost-prohibitive for most small solar applications like ours.
What Are Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries?
The Lithium chemistry we will be using is called Lithium Iron Phosphate or LiFePO4 (LFP). This is the same battery chemistry used in regular home appliances like cordless tools and lawn equipment. It is not the same as what is used for electric vehicles and cell phones which is known as Lithium Ion.
Lithium Ion is a little more dense but is less stable and requires extra care in storage and charging to prevent fires and explosions. LiFePO4 chemistry is more stable for industrial use. This technology is well tested and has been used for many years. We at HTT have been watching this technology mature as well as watching the price come down. We believe that it is now a viable solution for your solar applications.
Pros and Cons of LiFePO4 vs Lead Acid
- LFP batteries perform much better than Lead-Acid in cold weather (don’t have to put a bigger battery than you need to compensate for poor performance in the winter)
- LFP batteries are about half the weight of Lead-Acid Batteries (shipping will be less expensive)
- LFP batteries keep their performance for about 3-5 times the number of cycles as Lead-Acid batteries (won’t have to replace as often)
- LFP batteries need a more sophisticated and thus more expensive charger
- LFP batteries cost more for the same number of room temperature amp-hours
In addition to the batteries improving the power usage of our new CAT-M cellular modems is lower, thus putting less load on the battery. The LiFePO4 charge regulators are also more efficient in delivering power from the solar panel to the battery during times with less than full sun. Solar panel prices have gone down and with the new charge regulator working better on cloudy days a larger solar panel is a plus.
Energy Efficient Monitoring With A Smaller Battery
For the last several years we’ve recommended a 30W panel with a 55ah battery as the best fit for a standard remote water tank monitoring application. With the new technology, we will be recommending a 50W solar panel with a 23aH LiFePO4 battery to achieve the same performance. By going with a larger solar panel and smaller battery we compensate for the extra cost/aH of the LiFePO4 batteries and keep the selling price the same as the previous standard. So for the same price, you get the same functional performance, however, the batteries will not have to be replaced for 6 years or more compared to the recommended 3 years on the Lead-Acid batteries.
If the application is critical, the 54aH LiFePO4 battery is the same size as the lead-acid battery so it will fit in the same enclosure but at a higher cost. High Tide Technologies will also be providing upgrade kits that will include a new LiFePO4 battery and a new charger that will fit in the place of the lead-acid battery and charge that is already in the field.
Do You Need Some Assistance?
As always, we can calculate the exact requirements for any solar installation if given the communications profile and a list of all the attached equipment we will need to power. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us. We’re always happy to talk more about our new innovations.