Can I replace my old lead Acid Batteries with Lithium?
To answer your question – YES you can!
Do you have an off grid solar system and your old lead acid batteries, gel batteries or maybe even some old saltwater batteries (oh dear) and they really are not performing as they used too? I spoke to someone the other day and they said that they needed to get some new batteries for their off grid solar system, but they were going to have to get lead acid batteries again. I asked why that was and they had been told by their supplier that their system would not work with Lithium batteries which I found extremely hard to believe. Well as it turns out, the supplier only sells lead acid batteries so you can see why the advice was maybe biased.
Admittedly, a lot of the Lithium battery offerings out there are managed batteries that do require communication with the solar system to be able to work. But this is by no means the only option out there. Power Plus (made in Australia) do make a Lithium battery which has its own internal battery management system so does not require the direct communication link and they are not alone. The only thing these batteries require is a specific voltage which all systems can supply.
I have changed out some old saltwater batteries that were failing and replaced with Lithium batteries. The existing battery bank took up half of the garage, once the old batteries were removed, they had a box which was smaller than a 2-draw filing cabinet in the corner with Power plus batteries in supplying power above and beyond what the old batteries had ever supplied!
The other thing you need to check into with the new battery bank is the cost comparison of Lithium vs Lead acid. If you compare the same size battery bank in kWh then, yes, the lead acid will be cheaper. The reality here though is that for the lead acid battery bank to last let us say ten years then you should only use 30% of the battery banks capacity. So, if you buy a 10kWh battery bank in lead acid then you should only use 3kWh of that bank or you will dramatically reduce the life of the battery. The same is not true for the Lithium battery bank which means that if you want to compare costs then you should be comparing a 3 kWh Lithium battery banks cost to a 10kWh lead acid. Now you will see that the Lithium battery bank is cost effective. The reason that most lead acid battery banks fail early is because most old off-grid solar systems do not let you know when you are using too much of the old battery bank, so people are just not aware they are damaging the life of the battery bank.
So, if you need to replace your old lead acid battery bank then just make sure you have a closer look at the costs as you could be saving some money as well as cleaning up your battery bank and saving space at the same time! I also just feel that the world has moved on and Lithium really has taken over from lead acid, I am not saying that it’s going to be Lithium forever as I am sure, and I do look forward to more exciting battery innovations in the future, but it is most definitely a better option right now.