Updated: New Battery Technology for Solar Panels in Sub-Zero Temperatures

New battery technology for solar panels is always exciting news. Get ready for this battery technology perfect for sub-zero temperature installation sites: Silicon Salt is here.

Proper system design is paramount in off grid living. Choosing a battery technology that makes sense for the location, environmental concerns, access to the site and experience of the end user all play a role. One of the biggest challenges many of our customers face is temperature. How to mitigate capacity loss in colder climates is a question we hear quite often. So, we decided to use our Canadian branch to market test a new battery technology being referred to as Silicon Salt.

These batteries feature an electrolyte of an ultra-micro composite silicon salt forming solution giving them a smaller resistance ratio of 2 mili-ohm, twelve to thirteen times smaller than that of the lead-acid battery (lead-acid batteries are 25 mili-ohm and greater). Because this resistance is so low they are able to be heavily charged and discharged in an astounding temperature range of -40 degrees F up to 158 degrees F.

We have been testing them in various configurations. Currently, we have over 90 of these batteries in 11 systems with regular monitoring and communication from the owners. Our testing is covering small two battery 12V banks for telecom towers to large 48V grid-connected back-up systems and everything in between. They are located outside at fully exposed projects and inside various non-insulated power sheds as well as in insulated garages.

This new maintenance free Silicon Salt storage technology is being widely used by the Military, Telecommunications (UPS), GPS, Computer backup, Electric Vehicles (EV), Hospitals backup power, Airports, and many other applications in many countries. They are being readily used in these industries due to their low maintenance cost and excellent safety.

At this point we have found the claims regarding temperature to be valid. We are not seeing freezing or issues with capacity loss as expected with lead acid batteries. We have also found that after being fully charged and stored for 2 years they have retained 80% of their charge. The only claim we haven’t been able to substantiate quite yet is the longevity claim of 17-20 years. Our Canadian and U.S. testing time period has covered only a two years now.

In evaluating these batteries for living off the grid, we spoke with other testing facilities that have been running them a bit longer at five years. “After running them pretty hard we popped the top off and they looked brand new. There was no sulfation on the plates.” This is likely due to the ultra-micron composite silicon salt forming solution being neutral and thus unable to erode the plates inside.

We are excited to be carrying these batteries for all of these reasons. Obviously, the amazing claims need to be substantiated but so far, so good in our opinion. Additionally, due to the non-toxicity of the materials, they do not require an MSDS for shipment and are considered non-hazardous. They ship typical freight with no additional charges or exceptions. Also, they work well with other components currently on the market. There is no need for a sophisticated battery management system and most charge controllers, set at a sealed battery charging perimeter, work seamlessly with these batteries.

If you are working in sub-zero temperatures these may be a good fit for you. Give us a call for a free custom design of a system with this new and exciting Silicon Salt storage technology. We have them in stock and ready to go for your needs this winter.

UPDATE FROM OUR FRIENDS IN CANADA – MARCH 2016   We have been selling the Silicon Salt battery here in BC Canada for about 3 years. There are over 150 of these batteries installed here to date. There have been no failures in any installation with the exception of one 2V cell which was bad out of the box. It was replaced immediately.

I was skeptical about the claims of the manufacturer about the battery but so far they have met all of stated expectations and more.   The big issue for solar users here in Canada is freezing. The low sun months come with temperatures well below 0 degrees F (sometimes way below 0 degrees F). Low sun hours during those months can cause serious issues with off grid systems. Lead acid batteries will freeze at 32 degrees at 50% charge. This requires attention to the battery and often long hours of generator charging to maintain a state of charge adequate to offset freezing. The -40F freeze point for the Silicon Salt battery is a tremendous relief for solar users in cold weather.

A customer here ordered 12 of the 2volt 500 AH Silicon Salt cells. They were delivered to the site and the owner was called away for medical reasons and the battery sat outside exposed all winter with temperatures below 10 degrees F. When the battery was installed and tested 2 weeks ago (still freezing out) the voltage, under load, tested perfectly at 26.4 volts. We have heard similar comments from other customers.   The local Internet provider has been using the Silicon Salt (SI) batteries for the past 2 years. They have remote (unheated) microwave repeater sites using a variety of voltage SI batteries (the 6 V 220 AH, 12 V 100 AH, and 2 V 500AH). We are happy to report that they have ordered more!

Each week is busier than the last helping the Kootenays region to become energy independent.   Thank you Bob and Cheryl! If you are in British Columbia and would like to visit our showroom in Canada please contact Cheryl and Bob at 250-366-4459 or backwoodscanada@gmail.com