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How Can We Afford Lithium Batteries? — Live Small

Feb. 04, 2024

Every time I come across RVers who have switched to lithium batteries, the first question that comes to mind is: how the heck can they afford lithium batteries? It’s no secret that they are expensive! Lithium batteries can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000. So then, how the hell did we afford them?

Two things: Jerud and Electric Car Parts Company.

 

JERUD

With a mechanical engineer background, Jerud is a hands-on, do-it-yourself, I-love-projects type of person. It’s because of him and his brain that we’re living in an all-solar rig without having spent an insane amount of money.

The $5,000 - $8,000 I mentioned above is the cost for an RV solar installer to design, supply all the materials, and install the batteries. To save us a lot of money, Jerud did all that himself.

The four main types of batteries used in the world of solar power are lead-acid, lithium ion, nickel cadmium and flow batteries.

Lead-Acid

Lead-acid batteries have been in use for decades and are one of the most common types of battery used in automotive and industrial applications. They have a low energy density (meaning they cannot hold much energy per kg of weight), but remain both cost-effective and reliable and thus have become a common choice for use in a home solar setup.

Lead-acid batteries come in both flooded and sealed varieties and can be classified as either shallow cycle or deep cycle depending on the intended function and safe depth of discharge (DOD). Recent technological advancements have improved the lifespan of these batteries and lead-acid continues to be a viable option for many homeowners.

Lithium-Ion

The technology behind lithium-ion batteries is much newer than that of other battery types. Lithium-ion batteries have a high energy density and offer a smaller, lighter and more efficient option. They allow the user to access more of the energy stored within the battery before needing to be recharged, making them great for use in laptops and phones—and in your home.

The major drawback of lithium-ion batteries is the significantly higher cost to the consumer. If improperly installed lithium-ion batteries also have the potential to catch fire due to an effect called thermal runaway.

Further reading:
What is a good question about solar energy?
Which type of solar panel is best for you?
6 Incredible Benefits of Solar Battery Storage for Your Home
Everything You Need To Know About Solar Batteries
Benefits of Installing an EV Charging Station at Home
Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar
The 5 Most Common Uses of Solar Energy

Nickel-Cadmium

Nickel-cadmium batteries are rarely used in residential settings and are most popular in airline and industrial applications due to their high durability and unique ability to function at extreme temperatures. Nickel-cadmium batteries also require relatively low amounts of maintenance when compared to other battery types.

Unfortunately, cadmium is a highly toxic element that, if not disposed of properly, can have a significant negative impact on our environment.

Flow

Flow batteries depend on chemical reactions. Energy is reproduced by liquid-containing electrolytes flowing between two chambers within the battery. Though flow batteries offer high efficiency, with a depth of discharge of 100%, they have a low energy density, meaning the tanks containing the electrolyte liquid must be quite large in order to store a significant amount of energy. This size makes them a costly and impractical option for most household use. Flow batteries are much better suited to larger spaces and applications.

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How Can We Afford Lithium Batteries? — Live Small

Everything You Need To Know About Solar Batteries

Further reading:
What is the cost of lithium energy storage system?
Buying Diesel? Some Pros and Cons to Consider
Fuel Dilution in Engine Oil - How It Happens and What It Leads To
How Do Energy Storage Systems Save Money?
How does EV charging system work?

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