When it comes to setting up an off-grid retreat or home, one of the most important decisions you are going to have to deal with is figuring out the right battery system setup for your homestead. Your battery bank is the foundation of your off-grid setup, and it’s something that you are going to have to deal with quite a bit.
If you’re first starting out, the best advice I can give is to bring in a qualified expert who really understands the ins and outs of powering an off-grid home. But if you are dead sent against using outside help, you need to start out slow and start with some cheapo batteries because you are inevitably going to fry them out.
It’s quite common for first-time offgriders to kill their first set of batteries. You’re going to feel a lot better killing off the inexpensive sets than building some massive system and then running it into the ground during the first year.
What kind of Offgrid Batteries are people are using in the real world?
6V Golf Cart Batteries
Because these batteries are so readily available, they are one of the most popular choices for those who are just getting started or watching their budget. While they aren’t the best option for larger setups, they are more than enough for smaller cabins and are a good way to get started.
For an economy system, I recommend 6V golf cart batteries. Just about every manufacturer out there makes T-105 replacements, and they’re all pretty good quality. Most people will get 4-5 years out of these batteries when daily cycled on a small off-grid system.
- They take a lot of abuse and are perfect for those who are just getting started.
- They are cheap and easy to find.
- They are relatively light and easy to handle.
- They typically only last about five years.
- They are only recommended for smaller setups.
L16 Batteries were originally designed for commercial use. Their size, deep-cycle performance, and low cost make them an ideal choice for offgriders.
- These batteries are suitable for small-to-medium systems.
- They weigh about 100 lbs, so they are relatively easy to move.
- They last slightly longer than Golfcart Batteries and have a lifespan of 5 to 8 years.
- They are about two to three times more expensive than golf cart batteries
Deep Cycle Marine Batteries
Deep Cycle Marine Batteries are another easy to find option that many real-world offgriders use to power their homes and cabins. I personally use these for camping, ham radio gear, and as an emergency backup battery bank should things go sideways.
- You can find them almost anywhere; most auto part stores, sporting goods stores, and big box stores sell them.
- They are great if you need a cheap emergency backup plan, one where you don’t plan on running these batteries daily for months at a time.
- They lose capacity pretty quickly and in most cases will lose about half of their capacity in about 2 1/2 years. These batteries are usually made for casual users who aren’t recharging them on a daily basis.
Long Lasting Dedicated Battery Systems
Once you’re ready to take things to the next level, these are the battery systems that you should start looking at.
Forklift battery systems
Once you are ready to move beyond marine and golf cart batteries, many serious offgriders who need a lot of storage capacity start looking to things like forklift batteries.
- These are designed for industrial settings, so they are made to take a beating.
- They are a cost-effective solution and should last much longer than any L-16 battery.
- They have an expected lifespan of up to 15 or 20+ years.
- You’re going to need help installing them.
- They weigh anywhere from 1,000 pounds to several thousand pounds.
- Most dealers can tell you everything about forklifts but will have very little knowledge when it comes to using these batteries in an off-grid setup.
TESLA Powerwall 2
The Tesla Powerwall 2 is one of the newest batteries to hit the market and is designed specifically for powering homes. They are compact, stackable and with a built-in inverter, they come ready to integrate with a Tesla solar system. One Powerwall gives you 13.5kWh storage capacity and is warrantied for ten years with unlimited cycles.
Nickel-Iron NiFe Edison Batteries
Edison Batteries are one of the best-forgotten technologies out there. They are a Nickel Iron based battery, which means they don’t corrode like acid-based technology.
- This could be the last battery you ever have to buy as they last anywhere from 20-50 years.
- They have a high tolerance to overcharging, over discharging, and short circuiting.
- Freedom from acid fumes.
- Lightweight and easy to manage by yourself.
- They are hard to find, and they are one of the most expensive upfront investments on the list.
- They’re not as efficient as lead-based systems.
LITHIUM ION TECHNOLOGY
One of the newest, worry-free options on the market is Lithium Ion. They are still pretty expensive, but prices are coming down and they are probably one of the most popular options in the RV and Off-grid community and a lot of people use them to build DIY Goal Zero style emergency battery packs.
- Unlimited mounting capability without having to worry about dangerous spills. That’s why RVers love these for their solar set ups.
- You don’t have to worry about ventilating them like you do with other batteries.
- Over the long run they are cheaper, but you are going to have a larger upfront cost.
We really like the Lithium Ion Batteries from Battle Borne, they are made right here in America and they can be be charged and discharged repeatedly. Click here for more info on our favorite OFF-Grid Lithium-Ion Batteries.
The NiFe batteries are the best, IMO because of long life and resistance to over or undercharging. I bought a set direct from the mfr, Changhong in China. Very good service and price…patience required due to language barrier. However important to know that although the nominal voltage is 1.2 volts per cell, thus 10 cells in series give 12V, unless you charge up to 1.6 volts per cell you will get very little energy back out. I learned this by charging my 20-cell string up only to 28 or 29 v, as I would with a 24V nominal lead-acid battery, and the system went dead almost every night. Incidentally, this m,uch deep-discharge would have completely destroyed lead-acid batteries, but as soon as I adjusted the max charging V, they bounced back and now work as advertised. SO if you want 12 V you might want to use only 9 cells in series instead of 10….some 12V equipmetn willn ot be happy at 16-17 volts required to properly charge a 10-cell string of NiFe’s.
I have a 10 cell system and I found an inverter that could handle the larger voltage swings without tripping off line due to over or under voltage. I have a Arduino setup to turn the inverter on and feed power to the house whenever the batteries are fully charged as well as provide low voltage disconnect control for my 3 DC loads.
I would think that if you could find a wrecked Chevy Volt and salvage its battery system, it would be great for off grid use.
Have you tested this system personally.
I have a set of the nickel iron batteries in that picture. I am very happy with them so far and am running on them as I type this.
I have a 48 volt nickel iron battery system @ 1200ah. I can run my house for almost 3 days on a full charge. I bought them from China myself. I use a 12000 watt inverter bought from China. Almost all inverters are made there. I am off grid and I live in town.
I would be interested in both your purchase and set-up information. Sounds like this might be wise to copy for what I think I would want. Thanks if you do not mind sharing more.
Did Tony ever get back with you on his system from China? If so would you mind sharing?
I also would be interested in both your purchase and set-up information. Sounds like this mite be the system for us. Thanks if you do not mind sharing more.
I have been researching off-grid systems for months and have my eye on NiFe. Can you share your configuration details? If you can get almost 3 days on a single charge, what is your daily power usage in your house?
Hi Tony I would like to know what system you bought from china, I would like to do the same, I have 12 250 watt panels and been looking for inverter and batteries, you sound happy with your purchase, so I’m very interested , could you tell me which company you bought from, , my name is Tony as well.I’ll be off grid as well. Thanks Tony
can you list the brand and model numbers because I am interested in buying them please.
Hello Tony I would like to know the model number and supplier in China. If you have any drawing of your system that would be appreciate.
What is the life expectancy of your system?
My wife and I are in the process of deciding on what batteries to use.
I keep coming back to iron edison nickel iron but they are expensive. How does one purchase from china themself. I am going to use Sol-Ark 12-Kw inverter.
What was the estimated cost for your set up. I am looking at the 18.5 Kw fortress battery and the sol-ark inverter estimated cost of 20,000 without the solar panels
I was hoping someone could help me design my system. I was going to get a generator and the LG power wall system its a large battery RESU10 is the model. I need 3 to 4 of them to run the house and was wanting to get a kolher 6kw DC generator to charge them when the solar panels are not enough. Is there someone that can design these systems?
Check out sol-ark inverter
Have you tested this system personally.
Have. 10 Klw Bergy and want to go off grid. Need someone in Vermont to advise me how to go about doing this from selling my inverter and putting in batteries.
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