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Battery for Inverters - What Users Must Know About Inverter Batteries

Tips for Inverter Battery Selection

April, 2009

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Inverter batteries are critical to the performance of an inverter. An inverter must run on a battery bank of, at least, one battery. The power used by the inverter is stored in the battery or set of batteries. It is the work of the inverter to convert the stored power in the battery (batteries), which is direct current (DC), to alternating current (AC) used to power electrical appliances.

What Inverter Battery Bank Means

So, the inverter's battery bank refers to the set of batteries used by the inverter. How many batteries used will depend on the capacity of the inverter. The minimum nuumber is one, but the total bank size could be as high as thirty batteries and even more. The specifications for the battery requirement for an inverter will be as provided by the manufacturer. Usually, you will require 12volt batteries. 200Ah/12v batteries are widely used, though less than 200Ah batteries can also be deployed.

While the capacity of the inverter determines how much load it can take, it is capacity of the battery bank that will determine the backup time the inverter setup will deliver. In deciding the capacity of inverter to buy, you need to consider the load factor and also the required backup time. It is also possible to extend the backup time by increasing the battery bank size - that is, adding more batteries than specified for the particular inverter capacity


Inverter Battery: the Cost Factor

For the inverter setup to function optimally, both the inverter and its battery bank must perform satisfactorily. That means you need not just a good inverter, but also a dependable set of inverter batteries. Incidebtally, batteries usually constitute that higher chunk of the total inverter setup cost. Right from the smallest capacity of inverter up, the battery component of the cost is always higher than the inverter cost, if deep cycle batteries (recommended) are used. If the batteries fail to meet expectations in terms of backup performance and durability, it represents a major loss. Which is why you must choose batteries carefully.

Battery Sense: Choosing the Right Inverter Batteries to Use

Some critical considerations must guide your choice of inverter batteries to ensure they deliver a positive user experience:

  • Given the high cost of inverter batteries, you must ensure you buy inverter battery brand with good performance track record. This is plain value-for-money principle. All batteries are not born equal and what appears cheap now may cost more in the long term, if you have to replace batteries too soon. When batteries fail, your inverter is of no use until you invest in another set of batteries. You want to ensure your batteries last as long as possible.
  • Deep cycle batteries are the ideal batteries recommended for your inverter or solar power backup. The deep discharge technology is ideal for the extended power delivery required of the battery bank. Deep cycle batteries are built to withstand many cycles of deep discharge and to recharge each time power supply returns. Sealed, maintenance-free deep cycle batteries save you the inconvenience of battery checks.
  • Wet cell or flooded batteries can also be used to power inverters. They often offer a cheaper option, though with battery mmaintenance challenges. Checking and topping batteries is not a chore most people find easy, but it's usually less demanding than is appreciated. If you can't handle it, there is no point buying batteries that are allowed to dry up and go to ruins. However, the tubular battery option provides easy guage to check the electrolyte level in each battery cell. That reduces the work involved and could prove an attractive battery option, especially as the tubular batteries boast longer durability.

More Facts About Inverter Batteries

Your inverter quality may substantially determine the fate of your batteries. The battery plates may be affected by the quality of voltage the battery receives. Damage that could shorten the life of your batteries could result from unregulated charging voltage coming from the inverter's charging system. Good inverter brands do protect against such damage.

Sukam, makers of Sukam inverter, for instance, boasts of itís battery protection mechanism, based on its CCCV (constant current constant voltage) charging system. That ensures regulated voltage to protect the battery plates, extend battery life and give optimal delivery.

It uses silicon controlled rectifier technology, believed to be the best for battery chargers, to achieve constant charging and minimum power consumption. Fuzzy Logic Control or FLC technology protects the batteries by controlling the charging current of the battery to an optimum level which extends battery life and achieves reduced power consumption.

Note, too, that a good quality inverter should also have a low battery/deep discharge protection to prevent low discharge that can damage the battery bank. Having your battery discharge to very low levels or virtually completely could easily ruin them. You could manually monitor the battery level, but that could become an engaging chore. A good inverter product will provide inbuilt protection.

Let's use the Sukam example again. Sukam, first, has LCD display of inverter performance status. Part of the alternating displays is battery charge level information. So, you can see your battery level at a glance, anytime. That way, you know when it's getting low, without guesswork.

That's not all. The Sukam inverter will give an alarm if the battery gets to its low charge indication point. So, it warns you to reduce your load (and extend use time on remaining battery charge) or, better still, power down the system. That message is clearly displayed on its LCD message panel. Your Sukam inverter has the additional protection of being able to shut itself off, if you fail to heed its low battery alert. The moment the battery is down to a potentially harmful level, the inverter shuts itself off. That shut-off doesn't just happen. It is preceded by an extended alarm that alerts you that the system is about to go off, so you get a brief moment to save a PC job, for instance. Intelligent design, really.

Battery overcharge is also as damaging, meaning that the inverter you buy should have inbuilt over-charge protection. Battery overcharge corrodes battery plates, shortening the life span of the batteries.

Given that the battery system of your inverter is going to be a substantial part of the cost and that you naturally won't find frequent battery replacement any bit funny, it's as important to buy good quality batteries as it is to buy an inverter brand that has proven design mechanisms to protect the battery bank. That's an important point to note.


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