Recommended Battery For Alternative Energy Systems

Deciding which type of battery you should get can be overwhelming. I just read a good brief description over on Iron Edison ( ) that I wanted to share with you here for your general information.

Ask Yourself These Questions…

Here is a quick guide to help with your decision.

Battery Application?

First:  Determine what you are using the battery for.  Is it just for a backup situation, or will this be for an off-grid home?  Is this for a mobile application, like an RV or boat? Do you plan on using this battery everyday?

Battery Budget?

Second:  What is your budget? The batteries that last the longest cost more upfront, but over time will cost the least.  Knowing your long term goal with the battery will help.

Only Source of Power?

Third:  Will there be another way to access power if the battery dies?  If you go with a cheaper battery, will you have a generator or the grid to help out if the battery quits working?

Battery Maintenance?

Fourth:  Will battery maintenance be an issue?  Some batteries require watering, while others do not.  Knowing what type of person you are will also help with this decision.

Battery Types

Now that you have answered the above questions, let’s take a look at the different battery types below, starting with the cheapest AGM, and ending with the most expensive Nickel Iron.

AGM/ GEL Lead Acid: 

This is the cheapest type of sealed battery, so this battery is maintenance free.  Great for RV’s, Mobile Applications, and for small backup. I do not recommend this battery for someone who lives off the grid and plans on using this battery everyday.  With everyday cycling, this battery will normally last about 3-5 years at 50% depth of discharge. 

Flooded Lead Acid:

This battery is a good option for a person that is on a budget, but is living off the grid and needing to use the battery everyday. I would not recommend this battery for mobile applications since it is large, heavy, and off gasses hydrogen.  At 30% depth of discharge you can expect about 8 years of battery life, and at 50% depth of discharge this battery will last 5-7 years. This battery does require watering and equalizing maintenance, and does need to be kept at above freezing temperatures.

Carbon Foam :

This type of lead acid battery is sealed and requires no maintenance. Even though this is a lead acid battery, due to the new carbon foam technology at 50% depth of discharge, this battery will last for 14 years with daily cycling.  I like to recommend this battery to people that want a longer lasting battery, but might not have the money to purchase a lithium or nickel iron.

Lithium Iron Phosphate:

This battery is small, sealed and requires no maintenance.  Plus this battery has a 10 year warranty and is rated for 20 years with daily cycling.  This battery works well for off-grid, grid backup, or mobile applications.

Nickel Iron Battery:  

This is the longest lasting battery on the market.  This will last 30+ years, but is also the most expensive.  This battery performs well in cold climates and is recommended for people who live off the grid.  Also, in any survival situation, this battery will not die on you. The nickel iron battery does require watering.  I would not recommend this battery for mobile applications since it is large, heavy, and off gasses hydrogen.

Hopefully this quick overview will help when trying to decide which battery type is right for you.

If you have any questions, the design team over at Iron Edison will be happy to help you. It can be a very expensive decision to make, so get as much information that you can before making that decision. It doesn’t hurt to ask questions.

Iron Edison is a sponsor on this site. With that said, I do recommend any serious investor in a alternative energy system to speak with them, regardless of where you end up.

Be sure to mention you heard about it on Modern Survival Blog
Much appreciated. ;)

Continue reading: New Lithium Battery at Iron Edison | Lower Cost of Ownership

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Great post on recommended battery for alternative energy systems Ken! That brings up a question that I have. I was given a APC 1500 watt UPS battery backup power supply for free the other day. It’s not that old and still works great. Can I use it as some kind of small electric generator? Maybe put a larger battery and solar panel on it or something. I figured I would ask because if anyone knew, it would be the smart people of MSB. I apologize ahead of time if it’s a dumb question. Thanks

Thanks Ken! I really appreciate help, time and response.

You can use a UPS as an inverter only. You can open it up remove the ac speaker (to eliminate the beep), take out the small sealed 12v battery, add an extension to get a longer cable (the adapter you can get it at pep boys, autozone or a few other stores for $2). Get a 12v brushless computer fan ($4-$6) and plug it to the 12v batteries and screw it to the vented area in the side and leave some room for the air to get out.

You can hook it to the battery or batteries connected in parallel. You can also add an MPPT charge controller and some solar panels.

I have a 400watts UPC like that for a few years.

Thanks Survival Raptor, I will have to look into that.

This is great information! To the point pros and cons relating to specific applications! Just exactly what we need when we purchase some batteries this spring for an off grid cabin! Thank you!!!

When you say daily cycling, are you referring to trickle charging? Thanks

Thank you.