As a new technology, home batteries are being adopted by more families to gain energy independence. As people are getting interested in them, they may not be familiar with the different battery types on offer. In this article, we will introduce the different types of home batteries along with their pros and cons, so that you will have a whole picture to make the right choice.
Types of Home Batteries
Home batteries come in various types, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The primary difference is in battery cell chemistry. What are the chemical compounds used and how does that affect storage capacity and safety?
These are the primary types of batteries:
Let’s take a look at each in detail, with a quick description of their chemistry and a description of the pros and cons of each.
A lead acid battery is a rechargeable battery that uses lead and sulphuric acid to function. The lead is submerged in the sulphuric acid for a controlled chemical reaction, causing the battery to produce electricity. The reaction is reversed to recharge the battery.
- Mature technology with a long history of use.
- Limited cycle life compared to other types.
- Requires regular maintenance.
A lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery charged and discharged by lithium ions moving between the negative (anode) and positive (cathode) electrodes.
- High energy density.
- Longer cycle life compared to lead-acid batteries.
- Lighter weight and compact design.
- Higher upfront cost.
- Complex manufacturing process.
The nickel–iron battery (NiFe battery) is a rechargeable battery having nickel (III) oxide-hydroxide positive plates and iron negative plates, with an electrolyte of potassium hydroxide. The active materials are held in nickel-plated steel tubes or perforated pockets.
- Extremely durable with a long lifespan.
- Environmentally friendly materials.
- Lower efficiency compared to some modern alternatives.
- Bulky and heavy.
A nickel-cadmium battery (NiCd or NiCad) is a rechargeable battery used for portable computers, drills, camcorders, and other small battery-operated devices requiring an even power discharge. NiCds use electrodes made of nickel oxide hydroxide, metallic cadmium, and an alkaline potassium hydroxide electrolyte.
- High discharge current.
- Low self-discharge rate.
- Wide operating temperature range.
- Memory effects.
In saltwater batteries, a liquid solution of salt water is used to capture, store, and eventually discharge energy. Whereas a traditional lithium-ion battery uses the element lithium as its primary ingredient for conducting electricity, a saltwater battery uses sodium, the same element found in table salt.
- Environmentally friendly with non-toxic materials.
- Long cycle life.
- Lower energy density compared to lithium-ion.
- Still evolving technology with limited market presence.
A flow battery is a rechargeable battery in which electrolyte flows through one or more electrochemical cells from one or more tanks. With a simple flow battery, it is straightforward to increase the energy storage capacity by increasing the quantity of electrolytes stored in the tanks. The electrochemical cells can be electrically connected in series or parallel, determining the power of the flow battery system. This decoupling of energy and power ratings is an important feature of flow battery systems.
As a technology still in development, flow batteries can be distant from being put into mass daily use.
- Scalable and can provide long-duration storage.
- Decoupling of power and energy capacity.
- Complex design and installation.
- Lower energy density compared to some other types.
- Early development and not yet fully production.
Lithium Iron Phosphate
Lithium Iron Phosphate battery chemistry (LFP or LiFePO4) is an advanced subtype of the Lithium-Ion battery. It is commonly used in home battery systems for backup and time-of-use energy management and in Electric Vehicle (EV) applications. They are especially prevalent when linked with solar energy production.
So far, this type of battery chemistry is the best technology for home batteries, due to its safety, long duration, and powerful capacity.
- High energy efficiency.
- Longer lifespan compared to other lithium-ion batteries.
- Significantly increased safety over traditional lithium-ion.
- Slightly lower energy density than some other lithium-ion types.
Choosing the right home battery depends on factors such as budget, available space, required capacity, and desired lifespan. As technology advances, the landscape of home batteries continues to evolve, influencing the decision-making process. Homeowners must weigh the pros and cons of each type to determine the best fit for their specific needs, considering factors such as energy requirements, available space for installation, and budget constraints.