Off-Grid Solar Power Batteries: Safety Handling, Care and Maintenance

Blog | April 11th, 2018 How do solar energy systems maintain a smooth output curve? More importantly, how does the electricity flow when there’s no sunshine? An impractical on-again then off-again voltage source wouldn’t work in a home. In order to solve this conundrum, solar engineers developed solar power batteries. They interface with the circuitry, take over when the light fades, and generally keep the system off-grid. But aren’t large batteries dangerous? A Solar Battery Primer Like the large vehicles that use blocky batteries to start their engines, solar power batteries come in large Ampere Hour capacities. They store the energy in chemical soups, and they release their charges when the demand arises. Even then, even when these unwieldy blocks are connected to the system, there’s not enough power to supply an entire home. That’s why a number of stackable batteries are connected together in storage cabinets. Still, the question remains, are these batteries dangerous? A Liquid Danger The electrolyte, the liquid that the anode and cathode are dipped in, is typically a mild acid. Injected into the battery container by a trained technician, the wet acid creates a charging circuit when it bridges a lead anode and cathode. These are lead-acid batteries. Again, that acid (sulphuric acid) isn’t concentrated, but it’s still dangerous. If splashed, it will burn skin. Ventilate the enclosure. Wear thick gloves and safety goggles when handling the battery containers. Electrical Hazards Extreme care should be practiced when someone is close to the battery array. Don’t touch the electrodes. Furthermore, don’t allow any conducting materials to short out the electrodes. The former situation could result in a lethal electrical discharge while the latter event causes a potentially explosive reaction as the current flow is shorted. Do look at the batteries to see if their electrolyte levels have dropped below the marked minimum level, but do not attempt to replenish the liquid. A trained technician uses non-conducting distilled water to refill the electrolyte. Do not overfill the batteries. Care and Maintenance The electrodes tend to accumulate a dirty powder, which can interfere with system conductivity. Tell the maintenance service about the powder, and let this trained worker clean the terminals. Electrochemical sulfation action cleans away easily enough, but the tech must use non-conducting tools when carrying out this procedure. The solar power battery check finishes with a generous application of corrosion blocking gel. Remember, these procedures are all intended for accredited workers, for techs who use distilled water and wood-handled cleaning brushes. Keep away from that electrolyte, and don’t touch the wires.

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