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This curve is a real record for a standard 3 stages charging process, based on A100-24 model. Lead acid batteries have large capacities and are often available in many places around the world. Starter batteries are designed to deliver short, high-current bursts for starting the engine, and are designed to discharge only a very small part of their capacity.
For solar charging applications, you instead want a deep cycle battery, similar to those used for marine vessels or golf carts – a typical car battery will not work.
There are a few types of lead acid deep cycle batteries: flooded, sealed gelled, or sealed AGM. I recently built a portable but powerful solar battery system to power some LED string lights, a stereo, and an evaporation cooler. The final touch is to attach a cigarette lighter socket to the load terminal on the charge controller. I used a similar system to build a solar powered cell phone charging station at the 2012 Dumbo Arts Festival. Can I use also by electrical devices without cigarette lighter connector with such a battery system? Hi Dave, You can use electronics that you would plug into your wall in your home (120Vac) with this setup, but you would need to use an inverter with your battery. Lead acid chemistry batteries have been around since the dawn of the electric age, they are proven, and (when treated properly) extremely reliable. The best known brands like Lifeline and Trojan have a sterling reputation and rock solid warranties and support networks too.
But yet, when we dived into researching the advantages of lithium and the downsides of lead acid batteries, the price premium for lithium batteries suddenly started to seem worthwhile. To understand why lithium batteries show such promise for an RV house battery bank, it first helps to understand all the ways that traditional lead acid batteries fall short. Even if you are going easy on your batteries and are careful to never overly drain them, even the best deep cycle lead acid batteries are typically only good for 500-1000 cycles.
Just like a software development project, the final 20% of the work can end up taking 80% of the time. This isn’t a big deal if you are charging plugged in overnight, but it is a huge issue if you have to leave your generator running for hours (which can be rather noisy and expensive to run). Not fully charging the final few percent would not be much of a problem in practice, if it wasn’t for the fact that a failure to regularly fully charge lead acid batteries prematurely ages them. In addition to all that wasted generator time, lead acid batteries suffer another efficiency issue – they waste as much as 15% of the energy put into them via inherent charging inefficiency. This can be especially frustrating when charging via solar, when you are trying to squeeze as much efficiency out of every amp as possible before the sun goes down or gets covered up by clouds. Flooded lead acid batteries release noxious acidic gas while they are charging, and must be contained in a sealed battery box that is vented to the outside.
AGM batteries do not have these constraints, and can be placed in unventilated areas – even inside your living space. Flooded lead acid batteries must be periodically topped off with distilled water, which can be a cumbersome maintenance chore if your battery bays are difficult to get to. A fully charged 12-volt lead acid battery starts off around 12.8 volts, but as it is drained the voltage drops steadily. Also – the faster that you discharge a lead acid battery of any type, the less energy you can get out of it. If you are designing for extensive boon docking, you will want at least four 8D’s, or as many as eight.
And, if you have limited space for batteries on your rig – size alone of the batteries will limit your capacity.

By the way, we should note – we are not trying to motivate anyone to follow us on this path. No wish to stray off topic but my (easily)modified Fridge and modified freezer are pulling very low amounts of power now. In Tampa there is a place that sells heavy gauge aluminum angle very cheaply, it is this I used to make the collapsible solar panel frame. Lithium batteries in theory are much more environmentally responsible than NiCad batteries, and should ultimately prove to be recyclable.
As doing a solar install on the bus is our next major project, we definitely have lots to share about why we think lithium is an ideal pairing with solar. I have never liked lead acid batteries owing to the weight they possess and their limited useable capacity.
This item will be shipped through the Global Shipping Program and includes international tracking. Will usually ship within 2 business days of receiving cleared payment - opens in a new window or tab. One variation is to start a timer at "CVh" stage, when the timmer out, the charger will enter "Floating charging stage" automatically. A daily cycle of using most the capacity would corrode a car battery very quickly, the plates and the chemistry are designed to stay nearly 100% fully charged most of the time. Deep cycle batteries are designed with larger plates and different chemistry to avoid the corrosive effect of frequently using the full capacity. It is important to maintain a full charge when ever possible, because it will extend its life and maintain a higher efficiency. The Trojan 22-AGM batteries are similar in size to the Xantrex PowerPack, but it does not have all of the extra features listed above. This allows you to draw a load directly from the solar panels when there is enough sunlight or from the battery when there is no solar production.
In this project we used two of the Voltaic 16.8 Watt, 18 Volt solar panels, which were embedded into a dodecahedron shaped sculpture. In addition to making cool things with solar, he does consulting on alternative energy and is pursuing his Master’s Degree in Manufacturing Engineering at NYU Poly. Flooded lead acid batteries are the cheapest per amp hour, but also have the most drawbacks. AGM variants in particular are well suited to RV use, with none of the flooded battery maintenance requirements, and somewhat less of the risks of damage from overcharging. We went this route on our little Oliver Travel Trailer (designing in two 6 volt Lifeline AGM’s to create a 220 amp hour system), and we seriously considered building a massive 1300 amp hour AGM bank into our bus.
After much consideration, we decided that we were willing to risk the investment in an unproven technology for RV applications.
This means that a 600 amp hour battery bank in practice only provides, at best, 300 amp hours of real capacity. If you are frequently tapping into your battery bank (such as a full-timing boondocker might), this could mean that your batteries may need replacement after less than 2 years use! And if you are depending on solar and the sun sets before that final 20% has been topped off, you can easily end up with batteries that never actually get fully charged. Others just buy the cheapest (typically Walmart or Costco) batteries they can find, and just replace them when they fail. Being maintenance free comes with a downside though – a flooded cell battery that is accidentally overcharged can often be salvaged by replacing the water that boiled off.
The voltage drops below 12 volts when the battery still has 35% of its total capacity remaining, but some electronics may fail to operate with less than a full 12 volt supply.
This effect can be calculated by applying Peukert’s Law (named after German scientist W.

To pick a specific 8D example, Trojan’s 8D-AGM weighs 167lbs, and provides just 230 amp-hours of total capacity – which leaves you with 115 amp hours truly usable, and only 70 for a high discharge applications! We are not selling these batteries, we are not affiliates with any battery dealer, we paid for all our components and nor do we have any financial stake in the technology beyond our own systems. I also need to paint the name of the company on the side (Sir Sparks Electrical-Disaster Relief Command Vehicle) so hopefully I will never get hit for parking fees. Apart from the above shortcomings, it contains hazardous substances so a lot of care must be taken during installation, removal, working around and disposal of lead acid batteries to avoid injury. Currently roaming in a geeked out vintage bus conversion - working remotely as technology & strategy advisors, app developers and authors. I recommend using sealed AGM lead acid batteries wherever possible and will describe in this post the trade-offs of using different battery types with portable solar panels. Always use a charge controller with solar panels, so they don’t over charge the battery or apply the wrong voltage. The Xantrex PowerPack comes with a built-in AC inverter, surge protector, low voltage disconnect (LVD), and can be wheeled around.
The cell phones all charged from the DC side of the battery with cigarette lighter chargers. If you even occasionally drain the batteries more than this their life will be drastically cut short.
Peukert), and in practice this means that high current loads like an air conditioner, a microwave or an induction cooktop can result in a lead acid battery bank being able to actually deliver as little as 60% of its normal capacity.
The total life cycles are adjusted downward with each cycle which varies with depth of cycle (DoD).
It is adjustable to the four seasons insolation inclination or flat against the truck side within a couple of minutes although it does need two people.
If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. This is more efficient than using the AC inverter because we are simply stepping down the voltage from 12Vdc to 5Vdc. Of course we’d love to have more folks out there pioneering and helping us take the arrows in our backs. This is a huge benefit over flooded batteries especially with the limited resource of sun-hours per day.
If kept at the absorption voltage (temperature corrected) for too long a time, excess heat will build up and can lead to thermal runaway. Occasionally deep cycling a battery, even to 80% DoD, will not drastically cut short battery life. Living wise it is finished now but I have a few mechanical jobs still to do and a paint job. Flooded batteries have the advantage of being significantly less expensive, but they require adequate ventilation, maintenance, and also have the potential liability of tipping or spilling. Also, by avoiding the use of the AC inverter, we don’t need to convert the DC to AC and back to DC again. This is because there is no more recombination (H2 & O2) taking place that requires the energy.
Typically when the battery reaches 0.2% per 100AH capacity, you need to lower the voltage to stop the process.
One of my customers melted down the case of of an AGM battery after he changed some charge control settings.

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