How long do solar batteries last?

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Do you own or rent?

solar battery packs inside garage with solar panels outside

When the sun goes down or the power goes out, a solar battery can keep your home running on clean, renewable energy. Because they can cost between several hundred and a few thousand dollars each, it’s worth making sure you’ll get your money’s worth.

To help you decide if you should invest in a solar battery, we’ll explain how long you can expect a solar battery to last and what you can do to extend its usable life span.

Key insights

  • Most solar batteries last anywhere from five to 20 years, with the average life span between seven and 10 years.
  • Where you install your battery and how often you use it will greatly affect its life expectancy.
  • Buying a high-quality solar battery is usually more cost-effective for performance and longevity.

How long the average solar battery lasts

According to a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), solar batteries used in a home to minimize grid power consumption can last between seven and 10 years.

Solar panels typically last much longer than solar batteries.

However, there are also instances where solar batteries fail much sooner. For example, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Guam reported that they “had a full solar and battery backup installed” and the ”solar works fine” but the “batteries failed a few months in.”

Still, solar batteries are one of the fastest-growing technologies in the renewable energy space, and there are many products on the market with much longer expected lifetimes. Perhaps the most widely known example is the Tesla Powerwall, which has a 10-year warranty.

» RELATED: How long do solar panels last?

What affects solar battery life spans?

The life span of a solar battery depends on several internal and external factors, which mostly fall into three main categories: battery chemistry, frequency of use and operating conditions.

Battery chemistry

More than anything else, the internal chemistry of a solar battery affects how long it operates. Currently, lithium-based batteries are the preferred chemistry for residential solar installations; the techn is more efficient and longer-lasting than other solar battery chemistries.

Lead-acid batteries — such as an absorbed glass mat (AGM) or gelled electrolyte (GEL) — can also be used to store solar power in small applications, but they generally won’t last as long as lithium-based systems.

Frequency of use

With solar storage, the less you charge and discharge your battery, the longer you can expect it to last. As Hayden Kleinhans, manager of land development at Invenergy, a clean energy company, explained to us: “Solar battery life spans are usually rated in life cycles rather than years. The more you charge and discharge your battery, the shorter its lifetime will be.”

Solar battery life spans are usually rated in life cycles rather than years. The more you charge and discharge your battery, the shorter its lifetime will be.”
— Hayden Kleinhans, manager of land development at Invenergy

That said, infrequent use can also cause a solar battery to go idle, and most batteries should be charged and discharged at least twice per year.

Operating conditions

Finally, the conditions in which your battery operates will affect both its daily performance and total life span. For example, solar batteries operating in cooler locations can be expected to last longer than those frequently exposed to hot conditions.

» LEARN: How solar energy is stored

Do you own or rent?

How to make your solar battery last longer

Here are some tips for getting the most life out of your solar battery:

1. Invest in high-quality materials
With solar batteries, you really get what you pay for. Although traditional lead-acid batteries can be considerably cheaper than lithium-ion systems, investing in a higher-quality solar battery is one of the easiest ways to guarantee an extended operating lifetime.

If you're unsure what solar battery to purchase, looking for a unit with a long warranty period (i.e., more than five years) from a reputable solar energy company is a good way to start.

2. Install your battery in a good location
Where you install your solar battery will affect both its performance and longevity. Despite running on solar power, solar batteries should be installed away from direct sunlight to avoid overheating.

Likewise, solar batteries should be placed in areas with plenty of ventilation, no matter their internal chemistry. Although indoor or garage installation is recommended, if you choose to install your solar battery outdoors, you will need to make sure it is protected from rain and other weather effects if you want it to last as long as possible.

3. Be smart with charging and discharging
In general, the more you use a solar battery, the shorter its total life span will be. If your goal is to make your battery last as long as possible, then minimizing its daily use can help you lower the amount of charging and discharging cycles it must complete.

Although most systems are installed with safety measures to prevent overcharging, sending too much solar power to your battery can also cause damage. As such, it is important to ensure you install the right equipment to protect your battery and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for regular use.

4. Perform regular maintenance and inspections
With some types of solar batteries, significant maintenance is required to keep your system running without issue.

If you are using a lead-acid solar battery, be sure to verify how often you must perform maintenance to maximize your battery's longevity. Considerably less maintenance is required with a lithium-based battery, but it’s a good idea to check its hardware and connections for potential rust, corrosion or damage on a regular basis.

Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), “ Life Prediction Model for Grid-Connected Li-ion Battery Energy Storage System .” Accessed June 7, 2023.
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