What Are the Advantages and Uses of a Solar Deep Cycle Battery?

Deep cycle batteries are designed to give you stable power output for an extended time. Here’s how to make the most of this amazing battery in South Africa.

What is a deep cycle battery?

“Deep cycle” is not necessarily a single battery type, but rather a term used to describe various batteries that can undergo frequent full charges and a subsequent deep discharge. This means they deliver 80% to 100% of their power over an extended period of time, giving you consistent and stable power supply.

This contrasts the way other types of batteries work. A car battery, for example, is designed to give users a quick burst of power to help start the engine. There are different types of batteries, such as a lead-acid battery or lithium-ion battery, that can be considered “deep cycle”.

How does it work?

The design of deep cycle batteries is adapted to withstand repeated charging and discharging cycles. They use denser active material and thicker battery plates. Thicker plates help the battery life last longer.

These plates are also solid lead instead of sponge, giving less surface area. This means less instant power such as that in a starter battery, but also allows this battery to discharge 80% of its power over and over. Even though they can discharge up to 100% of their power, manufacturers often recommend that the charge level not be dropped below 45% on a regular basis.

What are the uses of this type of battery?

Because these batteries are lightweight, quick to charge, and long-lasting, they’re ideal for a wide range of uses. Lithium-ion technology is often used in marine applications, such as watercraft. Deep cycle applications are vast because they give users sustained energy levels.

One of the biggest and most popular applications is to use deep cycle batteries for solar power storage. They act as a large solar battery bank, storing the energy you collect via solar panels but do not use. Then, on a rainy day, you can use the power in this battery to power your home.

People use these batteries in recreational vehicles, golf cars, forklifts, and other commercial applications, too. They can handle many discharge cycles and the rate of discharge is stable enough to rely on for long periods. This is ideal for solar systems and backup power systems.

Explore our deep cycle solar battery options today to find the ideal solution for your off-grid power system.

How to charge a deep cycle battery?

The way you charge it makes a major difference to the battery life. While lead-acid batteries need to be charged in multiple sessions to reach their full capacity, lithium-ion batteries can be fully charged in just one session.

A dead battery is never good, because it means it has lost all its charge. The chemical reaction inside can result in reduced battery capacity. When using a battery that is frequently completely discharged, you may notice it does not reach its original capacity. For this reason, you should aim to charge the battery fully whenever the need arises.

How to extend the life of a deep cycle battery?

Proper charging plays a big role in extending your battery’s life. Regular maintenance is also important. You can enjoy continuous power for longer by applying the below steps.

1. Avoid opportunity charging.

“Opportunity charging” means plugging the battery in whenever you feel like it for bursts of time throughout the day but not letting it charge fully. Instead of charging the battery here and there whenever you get a chance, you can extend its life by giving it a change to charge in a full cycle every day.

This conditions the battery, preventing sulfation damage to the plates. A battery that is properly conditioned holds its charge better, and the battery life does not deteriorate as fast. Preserve the cycle life of your battery by avoiding opportunity charging.

2. Know when it needs to charge.

You can protect your battery by learning about its depth of discharge specs. If you discharge it to 80% of its capacity, but always recharge it to 100%, you can generally expect to get 220 complete cycles of use out of it. If, however, you only discharge it to 50% each time before charging it, you could get 750 complete cycles!

The thing is, constantly charging it could also damage it. One should not charge it after only 10% of the load has been discharged, for example. It’s all about charging at the right time. Not too much, and not too little. In this way, you can vastly extend your battery’s life.

3. Keep it at optimum ambient operating temperature.

Keep it in a location that is room temperature and dry. Battery temperature plays a big role in the rate of discharge and longevity of the device. Battery manufacturers suggest avoiding freezing temperatures and extreme heat. Batteries stored in extreme freezing temperatures or heat break down much faster.

4. Use the best storage & maintenance.

When you aren’t using it, it’s best to keep it fully charged. Many batteries have a slow self-discharge, but deep cycle solar batteries often only have a 2-5% discharge when not in use. Battery maintenance, in this case, means checking to see how much charge it is holding while not in use. If its self-discharge level is high, it may mean you need to replace some cells.

5. Use a slow charging method.

You can extend your battery life by charging it as slowly as possible. Charging it overnight is an excellent example, or if you use it for solar power, charging it during the day to use at night. This benefits your battery’s internal components and is preferable to only charging it for a few hours at a time. Rapid charging often increases the internal temperature, which is why you should avoid it if you want your battery to last longer.

What deep cycle battery do I need?

The type you need depends on its application. You can also look at the key factor list below:

  • Type. You can choose between lead-acid deep cycle batteries and AGM batteries, Gelled Electrolyte (or gelled batteries), and Flooded (or wet cell batteries).
  • Size. Its physical size can influence things if you need it for applications where lightweight, small-sized batteries are ideal.
  • Rate of Discharge. The rates of discharge can be significant, because larger batteries may give you longer periods of sustained power use.
  • Amp-Hour Capacity or Charge Efficiency. Different size batteries give you different volumes of power or kilowatt hours. If you need more power, you may need a larger size. A 20-hour discharge when in use may be ideal for your needs if you want to use it for solar in your home.
  • The Green Factor. Environmentally, lithium-ion batteries are much safer and cleaner.
  • Charge Time. The time it takes to fully charge may matter, depending on what you want to use it for.
  • Shelf Life. Some batteries have a longer shelf life than others because of their size, the materials they are made of, their maximum voltage, and their durability in cold temperatures (etc). Longer-lasting options are ideal for electric systems that need constant voltage and are used routinely.

Battery companies can help you find the right one for your needs. Battery life and performance are key when you want to use a deep cycle battery for solar. You can speak to us about solar battery solutions and the proper care of your battery.


Further reading: relion; mkbattery;


The Need for Solar Batteries

If you believe in all things green or have decided to go off the grid due to convenience, care and cost – whichever way you view the situation you are going to need a little knowledge on how solar batteries will work for you and your solar system.

Many home owners that are planning on installing a solar panel system don’t usually concern themselves with the many choices of solar batteries that are available. But there are many home owners as well as other solar energy users who are planning on installing a solar energy system that will be 100% off the grid or that at the very least, have emergency backup power. If this is the case you will most certainly need to learn a little about solar and be able to navigate your way around solar battery systems.

When properly managed a solar electricity storage system can prove to be a reliable and affordable method of powering your home or business.

Grid-Tie and Off-Grid Battery Systems:

Did you know that there are two different kinds of solar battery storage systems – these include grid-tie with battery back-up and off-grid?

Off-grid systems are independent of the grid. When it is dark and on cloudy days, off-grid solar homes rely on their solar batteries for power.

Peak generation of solar electricity happens around about midday with peak consumption usually happening at night when lights and appliances are turned on.

To power a home reliably; a battery bank must be able to efficiently charge in a couple of hours of intense sunlight and discharge during the night-time hours.

Solar batteries designed for this environment are referred to as deep-cycle batteries.

The most common solar deep-cycle batteries are referred to as being flooded, gelled lead-acid batteries and AGM.

These are three types of solar batteries that are able to discharge repeatedly, yet have low discharge rates.

Grid-tied systems with battery backup only use batteries when there is a power outage, but during normal operation, DC power form the solar panels is passed through a grid-tie inverter that converts it to AC power.

Always check with your supplier.

Home Solar Systems

There are many Questions Asked Regarding Home Solar Systems.

For those looking for an alternative way of powering their homes in South Africa, the answer is easy – home solar systems!

Thing is, how exactly does a home solar system work?

  • A PV – otherwise known as a Photovoltaic Solar System, consists of solar panels, racks for placing the panels onto your roof, an inverter and wiring.
  • From sun-up to sun-down the solar panelsgenerate electricity which is transmitted to an inverter.
  • The inverter in turn then converts this DC power into AC (Alternating Current) which is the standard used in most households.
  • AC power is then delivered directly to the main electrical service panel of your home.

Another oft-asked question is – how long will your solar system last – are you in for the long or the short-haul?

Systems can last anything from twenty five to forty five years, although some have been known to last even longer than this.

Does shade and grey days affect the efficiency of your home solar system?

Because solar operates at optimal output when the sun shines brightly, shading could prove to be an issue.

Unlike the early days of solar power when systems had to be sized for peak loads, a grid-connected PV system will seamlessly switch to draw from the utility grid when power is required.

Your solar system has been designed with an annual production target; in other words it has been specifically created to average out sunnier days with cloudy days; a win-win set-up all round.

Will the value of your home be augmented by installing a home solar system?

UPS Systems

Connecting Your Expensive appliances To Your UPS Systems.

If you are considering selecting surge protection for your expensive appliances, you need to ensure that you don’t make any vital errors when connecting your expensive appliances to your UPS Systems.

The wrong selection of UPS Systems could impact negatively on the daily running of your personal life and also of your business, and in this economic climate it is important to ensure that every single cent is accounted for.

When investing in surge protection for your appliances, many will not receive the kind of back-up they need from your inverter which makes them vulnerable to power surges, dips and hikes as well as brown-outs and black-outs.

Your expensive high-end equipment that needs to be protected through the use of your UPS Systems usually include electronic access-control equipment, garage doors, electronic gates, booms, alarm systems, fridges and freezers in the home as well as commercial and industrial refrigeration, air conditioning units and many others.

Installing UPS Systems is imperative (Uninterruptible Power Supply Units), as this will give you peace of mind in the knowledge that your business and equipment will function regardless of the type of power disruptions may or may not occur.

It is best to avoid hooking your heaters and air-conditioning systems to your UPS systems.

For those that are not familiar with the size of UPS systems, here is a short list of what you should be looking at:

  • Your PC with scanner and/or printer – recommended UPS size – 1KVA

Two or three PC’s with scanners and/or printers.

Power Inverters
Power Inverters

Always Ensure You Install Power Inverters Correctly

All AC equipment that can be found in retail stores has been specially designed to run off a pure sinewave wave form – this includes equipment such as motors, computers as well as certain lights, not to mention the numerous other sensitive electrical paraphernalia.

The standard AC mains that we get from Eskom is of an untainted sinewave nature – this means that these waves experience very little distortion to any outside interference which includes lightning and massive AC loads.

The internal working parts of power inverters and UPS, inverts the incoming DC voltage into sinewave waves – but due to the complexity of these parts, the result would be that investing in power inverters could prove to be a costly exercise.

Sine waves have been re-created to save costs; modified sinewave inverters as well as UPS systems simply switch from the DC supply between positive and negative poles to offer you a simulated sinewave wave.

Modified sinewave inverters and UPS systems are inexpensive to manufacture but could be very costly if these are installed into the wrong equipment.

Anything with a high inrush or high speed control or equipment with sensitive data should be connected to the correct power inverters to avoid damage.

It is imperative to take special note that certain UPS systems – most particularly the 600 VA which falls under the desk-type UPS systems, are included in the modified sinewave categories. Because computers only run off power inverters for short periods of time when power outages occur, they are far less likely to be damaged from modified wave forms.

For those that don’t know the difference – there are certain distinct advantages of pure sine wave power inverters over modified sine wave power inverters.

These include:

  • The output voltage wave form is pure sine wave with very low distortion and pure power such as the electricity supplied by Eskom.
  • Certain appliances and equipment will enjoy better speed – these include motors, microwave ovens as well as other devices – furthermore, these appliances will also enjoy running smoother, cooler and quieter.
  • Crashes in computers will be reduced as well as glitches in sensitive office equipment and a reduction in the noise in monitors will also be noticeable.
  • Some of the devices that will not usually operate with modified sine wave power inverters include:

Laser printers, some laptops, pellet stoves with microprocessors, digital radio clocks, certain power tools, to mention a few of the many.

Invest in Home Solar Systems

Many people in South Africa are making use of home solar panels to generate power.

For example, in Alexandra Township in Johannesburg, as is the case with many low-cost housing developments these houses are being fitted with solar panels for hot water geysers.

These might seem to be expensive to install at first, but they can and will save you a lot of expense in the long-term.

The internal working parts of power inverters and UPS, inverts the incoming DC voltage into sinewave waves – but due to the complexity of these parts, the result would be that investing in power inverters could prove to be a costly exercise.

Sine waves have been re-created to save costs; modified sinewave inverters as well as UPS systems simply switch from the DC supply between positive and negative poles to offer you a simulated sinewave wave.

Modified sinewave inverters and UPS systems are inexpensive to manufacture but could be very costly if these are installed into the wrong equipment.

Anything with a high inrush or high speed control or equipment with sensitive data should be connected to the correct power inverters to avoid damage.

It is imperative to take special note that certain UPS systems – most particularly the 600 VA which falls under the desk-type UPS systems, are included in the modified sinewave categories. Because computers only run off power inverters for short periods of time when power outages occur, they are far less likely to be damaged from modified wave forms.

For those that don’t know the difference – there are certain distinct advantages of pure sine wave power inverters over modified sine wave power inverters.

We make use of energy every single day of our lives and in every single aspect in a modern world. In South Africa electricity supply is barely keeping up with the pace and demand, and coal-fired power stations are experiencing issues plus they cause pollution in an already-polluted world.

But there is hope on the horizon, such as using and installing home solar systems, making use of the abundant sunshine we are so lucky to have.

The sun is a significant font of energy without which no life would be possible on Earth. The energy from the sun can be used to generate electricity in a more sustainable and pollutant-free process – more so than coal-fired power stations that are at present generating most of our energy.

But heating water through the use of solar power is certainly not new to man. The ancient Greeks, for example, were building houses in ways that the sun could heat them during cold winter months.

Solar or photovoltaic cells are specifically designed to capture the rays of the sun and directly convert them into electricity. Furthermore, solar cells have been used for many decades to provide power to satellites, too.

A solar cell consists of two thin plates made of a semi-conductive material such as silicon with a layer of chemicals on their surface and when sunlight falls on the cells, electrons are released from the silicon and they move over the layer of chemicals, generating an electric current.

South Africa has among the highest levels of sunshine in the world, but very little has been done to use its power to generate electricity. This is obviously cause for concern as scientists believe solar energy could become the only alternative when Earth’s fossil fuels are exhausted.

It has been predicted that more than 2.5 % of the world’s electricity needs will be provided by solar energy by 2015.

Installing home solar systems this summer is perhaps one of the most logical ways forward.

Solar Batteries Are Vital For the Function of Solar Panels

For individuals and businesses that are not too sure how Solar Power and Solar Panelswork, this guide will explain how it works.

Solar Panels, together with inverters produce power in proportion to the Solar Energy from the sun. This energy is then converted into electricity.

When appliances utilise power the Solar System subsidises this demand, and if the Solar System has excess then the surplus is exported to the utility grid.

Adding Solar Batteries to the equation means that you now have a place in which to store the surplus solar energy.

This excess energy is usually stored until it is need which is usually at night or on cloudy days when there is little solar input.

The inverter manages the flow of the power to ensure that you maximise the use of this free solar energy and don’t waste any surplus.

So in other words, a solar battery is in effect a storage unit where all the excess energy which is generated during sunshiny days is stored.

As far as Solar Batteries are concerned, there is never a one-size-fits-all scenario – but the best way moving forward is to ensure that your solar batteries are of a high quality.

Different solar batteries are used for varying purposes to ensure that the right product for the right application is used.

Lead Acid Batteries:

  • Because Lead Acid batteries contain large amounts of electrical energy, they are capable of discharging very quickly if any form of conductor is placed across their terminals.
  • Lead Acid batteries contain sulphuric acid which is corrosive.
  • Lead Acid batteries give off hydrogen when they are charged which when mixed with air, can become explosive and can even be ignited by a tiny spark, therefore handling these with caution is advisable.
  • Lead Acid cells have a minimal voltage of about 2 V – this is all depending on the state of charge.
  • A battery usually consists of several cells that are connected together in a series to produce sufficient Voltage – this is usually 12, 24 or 48 Volts.

Deep cycle cells:

A Deep Cycle Cells refers to a battery being charged with energy during sunny days.

Solar Batteries, as we have deduced, are therefore vital for the optimal function of Solar Systems.

Solar Regulators are also called Charge Controllers

A solar regulator (also referred to as a charge controller) is a small box that consists of solid state circuitry which is strategically placed between solar panels and the solar batteries.

The function of the solar regulator is to be utilised in conjunction with stand-alone systems that are off the grid or a grid-connected solar system that combines a backup battery bank.

For a grid-connected solar power system that does not make use of batteries, a solar regulator is not required.
Today’s technologically-advanced solar regulators are extremely efficient and will be able to out-strip any three-stage mains power battery chargers.
The function of a solar regulator include:

  • The primary function of the solar regulator is to regulate the incoming charge from the panel that flows into the deep cycle battery bank.
  • This is to prevent the batteries from becoming overcharged.
  • Regulators can also offer direct connectivity to appliances while recharging batteries.
  • This will bypass the battery bank although the batteries will be charged simultaneously.

How to choose your solar regulator:

  • First and foremost – it is important to check the amp ratings of your solar panels.
  • Once you have tallied up the figures, this should give you an idea of the minimum size charge controller required.
  • If you think your solar system will be added onto sometime in the future, it might be best to plan ahead for future growth.
  • This will save you money in the long term when adding more solar panels onto your system down the line.

Explaining low voltage disconnect:

Once the voltage drops below a certain point and they continue to draw power, this will cause untold battery damage.
Solar regulators should be equipped with LVD – Low Voltage Disconnect features to avoid damage.
LVD will monitor battery levels and will automatically disconnect the load that is connected to the battery if the voltage levels drop.
You need never maintain your solar regulator – although it might be a good idea to check the wire connections from time to time to ensure they are taut and free of corrosion.
It is also advisable to mount your solar regulator away from direct sunlight and heat where there is good air flow.
For safety purposes always ensure there is a suitable fuse between the solar panel and the solar regulator.
It is important to acquire a professional’s opinion before ordering any equipment.

Solar Panels power low cost housing in SA

It is no secret that South Africa faces an enormous challenge when it comes to housing its poor and supplying electricity to the many homes and businesses that are currently using power and those that are being built.

Although there are numerous initiatives under way, there is still a backlog of 2.3 million homes.

An integral part to the construction of newly-built homes – particularly RDP and low-cost housing, is the provision of basic services of which solar technology plays an essential role, as this is a cost-effective solution in providing energy to South Africa. Solar power assists the supply of electricity which is a vital part of supplying hot water and electricity to homes from right across the board.

About Solar Panels in South Africa:

Solar panels in South Africa and solar power remain the most popular type of renewable energy at present, because of the abundant amount of sunshine South Africa enjoys. Solar panels are both reliable and cost-effective, too, which makes this a popular alternative to power off the grid. Solar Panels produce electricity from photons which can be found in light radiation.

This translates into power even on days that are cloudy although the most electricity is produced on bright and sunny days. The initial cost of solar panels might seem high at first but over the long haul the benefits are numerous and soon will make up for the initial installation fees. Solar systems reduce CO2 levels which makes it an eco-friendly alternative.

Because solar technology is a type of renewable energy it means that it is sustainable and green; in other words,  it boasts being one of the most widely held forms of renewable energy in this country.

Did you know that most areas in South Africa enjoy in excess of 2 500 hours of sunshine annually?

The average solar levels range between 4.5 and 6.5 kWh/m2 daily – this is according to the DoE (the South African Department of Energy). This is compared to 150 W/m2 in certain parts of the USA, as well as in the region of 100 W/m2 for Europe and the United Kingdom.

The influences that usually affect the choice of solar equipment include how much power is required, what will be running off the solar system and how much the budget is for installing solar panels in South Africa.

Voltage Regulator
Surge Protection
Surge Protection – Which One’s For You?

As far as power surge protectors go – there is the good and there is the bad. Did you know that if you chose the wrong one you could end up damaging all those electrical gadgets you have paid a small fortune for – therefore it might be a good idea to choose the one that has the best fit right from the outset.

Here are four pointers when buying your surge protector:

  • The right number of ports is perhaps number one when buying a surge protector. Although six and eight ports might be an obvious choice – look around a little and find one with 12 ports that are well-spaced so that using them all is easy. The right number of points makes sense – this way you won’t have to use a whole daisy chain of surge protectors.
  • What type of equipment will be plugged into the surge protector? This is a good time to consider what you will be plugging into the surge protector. The one that is appropriate for your individual needs will be the right one and not the one that seems to sport the most features and costs the earth.
  • Another important factor is to check for the UL seal and ensure that your surge protector is a transient voltage surge suppressor and meets with their UL standards which is a prerequisite for it to be an authentic transient voltage surge suppressor. This will ensure that the surge protector you invest in will actually protect the equipment you plug into it.
  • Check the warranty of your surge protector. Some surge protectors will warranty the devices that are connected to it for a portion of the damages if a power surge sneaks through. It is important to see what is and what is not covered. You need to know how to go about finding out how to claim if the surge protector does not live up to its promises.