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Are solar batteries safe?

Solar batteries are a great addition to your solar energy system. They give your system the added capability of storing excess energy produced by your system to be used for later. This also has a good impact on additional savings on your electricity bills. You may be concerned about the safety of having a battery bank installed in your home and the potential risks they pose. This is why we’ll explain how safe battery technologies are, their potential risks, and the safety standards in place to keep you, your loved ones, and your home safe.

Solar battery technologies and their risks

No matter what the type of battery storage solution, it should be installed by professionals and properly maintained. Maintenance is important to both the longevity and safety of your solar batteries. When properly installed and maintained, there is little to no worry of failure occurring in your solar battery. Although, each type of solar battery solution has different parameters when it comes to its safety, quality, installation, and end-of-life disposal.

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead acid batteries are generally safe and among the easiest to recycle. The safety of lead acid batteries will depend on their ventilation and the care that goes into maintaining the units and enclosure. This is because lead acid batteries emit a combination of hydrogen and oxygen gasses at their final state of charging. These gasses are highly combustible when present together, which is why proper ventilation is important. While it sounds worrying, it’s worth noting that they are no more dangerous than home gas and petrol cars.

Lithium Ion Batteries

Lithium Ion should be noted as a general term for batteries that use lithium chemistry. Such as lithium iron phosphate, lithium cobalt oxide, lithium manganese oxide, and lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide. This is important to note as different lithium ion types are safer than others, with lithium iron phosphate being the safest among them all. This is due to their durable battery chemistry and their safety when it comes to thermal runaway. A thermal runaway is when an increase in temperature causes another sharp increase in temperature. This leads to the battery venting with flame or even exploding. This can happen with higher surrounding temperatures or overcharging.

However, lithium ion batteries are safe as long as they are installed properly. The battery management solution monitors the temperature, voltage, and power to ensure safety. These batteries are also designed with proper thermal materials to dissipate heat and enable them to handle higher currents and voltages. These batteries can also come with redundancies and safety measures built into them. However, due to their complexity, lithium ion batteries are hard to recycle and dispose of at the end of their life cycle.

Salt Water Batteries

Saltwater batteries are very safe, being non-toxic, non-flammable, and even non-explosive. Their chemistry is safe and not capable of thermal runaway. Which makes them even safe to the touch and safe to dispose of and recycle.

Solar battery safety standards

Most of the established battery manufacturers of solar battery products have their products tested to ensure they meet standardized industry safety regulations. Solar batteries have to comply with safety guidelines by UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories), a global safety certification company. There are multiple UL standards that batteries can comply with to ensure their safety standards. Solar batteries can even be certified by the International Electrochemical Commission (IEC) for their general requirements and methods of testing. The following standards are ones you should look for when selecting solar batteries for your system:

 

  • UL 9540 – Standard for Safety of Energy Storage Systems and Equipment
  • UL 9540A – Test Method for Evaluating Thermal Runaway Fire Propagation in Battery Energy Storage Systems
  • NFPA 855 – Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems
  • IEC 61427-1
  • IEC 61427-2
These safety standards are created to ensure that products such as solar batteries have their safety ensured and are fit to be used. These standards also make it easier for local policymakers to implement basic safety requirements for their local conditions and enforce them on any construction or improvement projects that are permitted. Safety standards are important to ensure that products are safe from the moment they leave the factory to the end of their lifespan. As new technologies are developed and implemented. New standards will also be implemented to ensure those products are safe as well.

Here in the United States many of the equipment used must have those safety codes. OSHA, The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration, operates a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) program which also includes UL. There are about 20 organizations that are currently listed as NRTLs, and these NRTLs have a website that you can visit to check a product’s safety standard. Any fraudulent products using an NRTL are penalized harshly, making them rare and ensuring that properly marked products are safe.

You can be sure knowing that your solar batteries are safe to be installed and used in your home. With the multiple safety standards set and the professional installation and maintenance done, you can enjoy the benefits of your solar storage without any worries.

Get started with solar energy today

If you are looking to start your transition to solar energy, we are here to help. Our website also has a free online estimate tool that generates a personalized report for you from a simplified questionnaire. That report will contain the potential savings you can net, and the cost of a solar energy system installed on your property. You can also contact us directly via phone at +1 (602) 363-8919 or via email at Scott@elitesolarenergy.org for more information regarding solar energy for your property.