The panels and the batteries themselves create your whole system. We recommend you do a load evaluation sheet, which determines how much power you use in the house, since the hydro bills nowadays are broken out don’t really give you a true representation of your consumption. We ask you fill in our evaluation sheet. This evaluation sheet lists all the appliances you have, the equipment and lights you have, estimating of how much you use each day. Then we average it and say you are using x amount of watts per day. If it’s a cottage, you require less solar panels because of the fact that you are charging while you are gone. You use power on the weekend in a cottage, you would make the battery bank big enough to handle the requirement of three days usage. Then the solar panels will charge them back up in the next five days. If you use 3000 watts of power every day for three days, you’d have to put back 9000 watts of power while you are gone. You need close to 2000 watts of solar power per day to charge those batteries back over those 5 days. Since in the summer you have more than 5 hours of sun a day, you would need 400 watts of panels. Now in a house scenario, you need to put the power back hopefully every day so if you use 3000 watts of power every day you want to have minimum 3000 watts of panels. The thing is the sunlight in the winter time is only two hours and the summertime is 5 hours so you also have to consider the amount of hours you are going to get. If you are using realistically a house would use about 20,000 watts a day – so you would look at it and say worse case scenario, in the winter time I am going to get two hours of sunlight so I am going to need at least 10,000 watts of solar panels to be able to provide that amount of power throughout the year which means in the summertime you would have way more power than you would need.. What you can do is, say okay in the summertime you only need 5000 watts of solar panels times 5 hours of sun light will give 25000 watts so you don’t always have to put in the full amount you can put in 7000 watts of panels and a back up generator and sometimes in the winter you can use the generator to top up the batteries when you run low because there is not enough sunlight. In that way, you don’t overspend and after one full year of usage, we can analyze it and evaluate what you have done and say you’re right you still need more panels or the system will work fine.
Both are good in their own realm. The flooded battery is where you actually have the lead acid as your medium to transfer the electrons between the plates and the battery cells have to stay covered in fluid all the times; otherwise, they will decay and damage the battery. Flooded batteries need to be maintained regularly because when you transfer electrons from plate to plate. You need the sulfuric acid to keep the battery functioning. After many transfer of electrons (cycles), you end up with sulfur deposits on the plates. This in time minimizes how many electrons can be passed back and forth. The battery will start to produce less and become less efficient if this happens. This is known as sulphation. Therefore, what needs to happen, is that you have to equalize your batteries. This is done by applying a higher voltage into the Batteries when charging them, boiling off that sulfur build-up. When you boil off the sulfur in this process, the battery becomes fresh and new again allowing it to function properly again. So flooded batteries depending on usage must be equalized a few times a year or depending on whether it is a home or cottage. it should be done at least twice a year to keep them running efficiently. If you don’t equalize them at all, they will be dead within 5 years, when they are usually good for up to 12 years. You need to vent flooded Batteries and keep them in a box. These type of batteries produce sulphuric acid vapour whether they are drawing power out of the battery or charging the battery. Equalizing the batteries causes a lot more vapours as you are boiling off the sulphur. For this reason you must build a box and have two pipes the inflow and out flow of air. AGM (absorbed glass mat) is made a little differently. They are manufactured with a fiberglass cloth in between the plates. They add 10 ounces of acid to the battery when manufactured. As the battery charges up, the acid gets drawn up into the cloth, when the battery gets full, the cloth is wet. There is no liquid in the battery when they are fully charged. That is why these type do not vaporise, and are OK to be installed in a home without venting. Whether a flooded battery is charging or discharging, which means being used, you will get vapour coming out because you are breaking down the sulfuric acid into sulfur and hydrogen. This is why you will get a smell wherever the battery is operating. So what happens is those batteries, if they are in a house, they will have to be vented. Most of the time flooded batteries are installed outside of the house like in a generator shed. With the AGMs, the little amount of acid that is in there, about 2% of a normal flooded battery, is in the cloth keeping it moist between the plates. It won’t vaporise. There isn’t enough liquid in there to burn off. The battery is sealed and it can stay inside a house and it doesn’t require venting. The problem is that those batteries usually cost 30% more than a flooded battery. We try to sell them more because they are idiot-proof, maintenance free and they are a very forgiving battery. You can charge them or trickle charge them every day, all day. In other words if you had two little solar panels charging an AGM battery all day, it wouldn’t hurt them. They don’t care. A flooded battery needs to be charged properly with 10 % of the batteries potential in solar panels. So if you had a 10,000 watt battery bank, you really should have a 1000 watts of solar panels to charge them properly. Most people don’t do that, they try to cut back on the solar panels because in a cottage you charge while you are gone, and use it on the weekend. So, cottages don’t need a lot of solar panels. Most people will put minimal amount of solar panels, poorly charging the batteries and plug them up with sulphur on the plates then in five years’ time, wonder why the batteries are dead. Do it right you have to either install the right amount of solar panels or use an AGM battery, that won’t care if you have one panel. The trade off in cost also comes back to you pay now or you pay later.