If you were to look at an AGM battery, you likely wouldn’t think it had any connection to solar power. That’s because it looks like—and, in fact, it is—a car battery. But even though you’d traditionally find an AGM battery under the hood, they can also be used quite effectively to build solar battery banks that store excess energy. If you’re not familiar with AGM batteries and their role in the solar industry, keep reading to learn what you need to know.
What Are They?
AGM batteries are a variety of lead-acid batteries. This particular variety has an absorbed glass mat, which gives the AGM battery its name and sets it apart from other types of lead-acid batteries. While there are a lot of technical differences between AGMs and other lead-acid batteries, suffice it to say that the absorbed glass mat allows for more power to be packed into the battery’s casing.
How They Differ
Functionally speaking, there are many differences between AGM batteries and other lead-acid varieties. The main difference that users know is that AGMs require virtually no maintenance. Because they’re a sealed system, you’ll never have to check water levels or worry about expelled gas, as you have to do with traditional flooded lead-acid batteries. This makes AGMs a safer option, especially in solar applications where the batteries are not tucked underneath a hood that most people only open very rarely. These batteries are often stored in a shed or garage that you might use regularly, and where gas emissions could be a serious concern. These safety improvements alone make AGM a better option for solar applications than other types of lead-acid batteries.
Their Role in Solar
A battery bank is a storage location for excess solar energy produced by the photovoltaic panels in a solar array. If the energy is not immediately needed, it can be funneled into the batteries and stored, then drawn upon later when active solar energy is unavailable. As mentioned above, batteries like these and many other types of batteries can be used to form solar battery banks.
While they were previously only used in off-grid solar projects, battery banks are now seeing incredible growth in popularity among grid-tied solar users. These systems are called hybrid solar systems, also referred to as solar-plus-storage. While battery banks are not necessary for a system connected to the grid, adding one significantly improves energy independence and maximizes the benefits of a solar power system. As it turns out, the AGM battery is just as effective hooked up to a solar array as it is when it’s hooked up to an engine.