Going Beyond Electricity: Exploring the Benefits of Inverter Batteries

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If you live in Nigeria, you must well know what an inverter or inverter battery is. But do you know exactly how they function? Or, what exactly are the advantages of an inverter battery? If not, then read on. Here, we have given a complete breakdown of every component of an inverter battery and have discussed what makes them an irreplaceable element in an inverter-battery system.

A power inverter, or simply an inverter, is an electronic appliance that converts DC (direct current) from sources such as batteries or solar cells to AC (alternating current) to be used in appliances. When the inverter uses batteries, it is known as a deep cycle inverter; when it uses solar panels, it is known as a PV-inverter or solar inverter.

Most appliances are designed to use AC directly from the mains. The problem arises when there’s a sudden power cut. In such a scenario, the appliances draw current from the inverter, which in turn draws current from the attached battery.

Thus, batteries are an integral part of an inverter. Battery manufacturers in Nigeria surely know this, as they know how important inverters are, given that Nigeria faces power issues big time. Almost every Nigerian household uses inverters and batteries to meet their power requirements. On top of that, there are different types of inverter batteries, and the one you choose will matter in deciding how effective it will be for your purpose.

Hence, it’s important that you know whatever there is about inverter batteries, so you can make an informed decision while choosing one.

Inverter Battery Components

Batteries convert chemical energy directly into electrical energy. All its parts are built in a structure called a “cell” that is comprised of the following:

Electrolyte. The electrolyte in most liquid cell batteries is sulfuric acid diluted with distilled water. Inverter batteries are basically wet-cell batteries. Wet-cell and sealed are two types of lead-acid batteries that use an acidic electrolyte. A wet-cell battery uses a liquid electrolyte, whereas a sealed battery uses either a gel or a liquid electrolyte absorbed in a fiberglass mat.

Terminals. The terminals are pure lead on the negative and PbO2 on the positive sides, acting as “plates.” An acid electrolyte and a lead plate are why wet cell batteries are called “lead-acid” batteries.

Separators. The separators between the positive and negative plates prevent the short circuit from physical contact, especially with the dendrites, but also from the shedding of the active material. Most separators are made of rubber.

Cooling fans. Although they are not part of the “battery system,” they are installed as part of the general inverter system.

Displays, LED lights, and Alarms. These are integrated into the general inverter system or sometimes as part of the “battery chargers” to inform the user of the status of the battery.

Microprocessor-Based Circuit. This is embedded in the overall inverter system or part of the “battery charger” that controls the charging.

Types of Inverter Batteries

Based on the plate technology used, inverter batteries can be broadly classified into three types.

  1. Flat Plate Batteries
  2. Tubular Batteries
  3. Gel Batteries

Flat Plate Battery

This battery gets its name from the shape of the plates it has. Both the positive and negative plates of this battery type are geometrically flat in shape. The electrolyte used is acid. So, in effect, it is a lead-acid battery.

These batteries are easy on the pocket but also have a shorter lifespan. Apart from that, these have a higher charging rate and take less time to charge. So, these batteries are ideal for situations where there are frequent power cuts for a short time.

Tubular Battery

These batteries have a positive tubular plate and a flat negative plate. The tubular plate is what earns its name. The tubular structure of this type of battery’s positive plate retains active chemical components with extra support.

These batteries are usually larger in size than flat plate batteries and come in two shapes: short and tall. Tall tubular batteries have a greater height than width, and the short ones are just the opposite. These are more durable, have a longer service life, and are considered the best batteries for areas with long and persistent power cuts.

Gel Battery

Lead acid Gel Batteries get their name from their special crisscross gel structure, which retains the acid and stops it from settling down. They also have more backup power compared to standard flooded lead-acid batteries.

The main advantage of a gel battery is that it requires no maintenance, and the fumes it produces are much less than other batteries and are completely non-toxic. Also, there’s no risk of acid spillage. Thus it has gained quite a name as a maintenance-free inverter battery. The only con it has is that it does not last as much as a tubular battery.

How Long Does an Inverter Battery Last?

Among other factors, the time until an inverter battery will last depends on its size, working temperature, construction, how much energy is regularly taken out, and how old it is. However, if you ask, “how long a fully-charged 150Ah battery will last?” the answer is a little more straightforward.

Without any loss (which is impossible in the real world), a fully-charged 100Ah battery will last for 20 hours with a constant 5 amps load before it needs another recharge.

The calculations are rather simple for this. The equation to be followed is:

E = C * Vavg

Where E is the energy stored in watt-hours, C is the capacity in amp hours, and Vavg is the average voltage during discharge.

Should You Buy Cheaper Inverter Batteries?

Let’s face it. Inverter batteries are available at cheaper rates. These are local batteries with a similar outward finish. Thus, there’s no way you can tell if you should go for one. However, as the largest battery company in Nigeria, Lagos, we recommend never buying cheaper locally-made batteries.

Buying a cheap battery often results in a false economy. It can damage the branded inverter set, lead to low power efficiency, and even pose safety risks. Often they use an inferior lead and substandard active materials, and the vendor may still pass them out as quality inverter batteries. They may charge prices which is similar to the branded ones. So, you get a substandard battery at a low price but stand the risk of damaging your inverter, or worse still, it threatens your safety. On top of that, these batteries almost always require extra maintenance and topping up more regularly.

However, as stated, there is no way you can tell if the battery is inferior in quality just by looking at it. So, how to choose? It’s best to buy branded batteries with a standard warranty. That way, you can be sure of the quality and simultaneously be covered for a limited time with the warranty.

Benefits of an Inverter Battery

One of the obvious benefits of an inverter battery is that it provides AC using which your home appliances can run. But that’s what an inverter battery is for. So, what are the exact benefits of inverter batteries, or in other words, why should you care about inverter batteries?

  1. The inverter batteries are rechargeable. Meaning you can charge and discharge repeatedly without loss in quality, and generally, a tubular inverter battery lasts long.
  2. The batteries are of high capacity and produce a large amount of current so that a single battery can light up many appliances in a home.
  3. The batteries do not produce any harmful emissions.
  4. They are highly efficient and reliable.

Best Tips to Maintain an Inverter Battery

  • Charge your battery correctly and regularly according to the recommendations that come with the battery. If you have any queries, you can always ask a professional to answer them.
  • Keep the batteries in a well-ventilated area and out of sunlight.
  • Do not undercharge or overcharge a battery. Also, avoid high-speed charging.
  • Do not persistently undercharge. It will reduce the battery life and speed up sulfation.
  • Store a battery in fully charged condition. Avoid charging when the battery is in load.
  • Ensure the charger switches to the ‘float’ charging when fully charged.

How to Extend an Inverter Battery’s Life?

Correct charging of an inverter battery ensures optimum performance. Avoid both under and overcharging. Overcharging diminishes the battery’s internal structure, and undercharging shortens its lifespan. You must know the correct voltage for your battery and charge it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and at intervals they advised.

Most deep-cycle batteries need an amount of discharge and recharge cycles to perform at their peak. After approximately 10 cycles, you can consider the battery to be broken in. The quality begins to decline after about ten thousand cycles of charging. It’s best to perform an occasional full charge when the charge cycle allows it.

Best Practices to Charge and Discharge an Inverter Battery

Usually, a 14-16 hours float charge is recommended every few weeks for an inverter battery. It’s best to store the batteries in a well-ventilated space, away from direct sunlight, and at temperatures below 25° C. A cooler temperature slows down the build-up of parasitic reactions within the battery. Avoid deep discharges taking out more than 65% of capacity, and recharge as often as possible to avoid having low-density electrolytes in the battery.

Conclusion

Inverter batteries are a significant part of an inverter. They are available in different types and have several benefits. The best battery manufacturers in Nigeria always strive to build better batteries, and they have successfully done so in many cases. So, it’s recommended to buy branded batteries of high quality that are more likely to last long and give the best performance. Follow the best practices to maintain an inverter battery, so you can enjoy the benefits that come with it for a longer duration.