Finding an efficient battery energy storage system is a major consideration for anyone looking to “go off-grid” or to capitalize on the growing trend towards home solar energy use. By providing a rechargeable external energy source, batteries are able to store energy generated by solar PV panels during the day and then provide it back at night, during a grid outage, or even months later on a low-sun day. There are also existing and in-development programs like the Massachusetts ConnectedSolutions program that incentivize home solar plus storage solutions that contribute to strengthening the grid.
As more people look to transition to long-term renewable energy systems, the question of battery durability, efficiency, and resiliency has become increasingly important. Recent years have seen a growing preference for lithium-based and lithium-ion batteries for energy storage solutions as a sustainable, higher-value alternative to the 150-year-old technology of traditional lead-acid batteries. The newest player on the field and a cousin to the lithium-ion battery—the lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery—might just become the most popular and efficient lithium-based battery yet.
Introducing Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries
Lithium iron phosphate batteries’ superior chemical stability makes them an ideal choice for homeowners and business owners looking to add a long-term energy storage system to their new or existing solar PV setup. With a phosphate-based cathode that is more thermally and chemically stable than that of any other lithium battery, a lithium iron phosphate system is, simply put, the safest option out there. With no rare metals or battery acid, a lithium iron phosphate battery will remain stable in extreme temperatures up to 158ºF (versus 140ºF for conventional lithium-ion batteries), with zero risks of explosion or fire even when punctured or damaged.
The low to zero active maintenance required also translates into minimal downtime and maximum productivity over a lithium iron phosphate battery’s extended lifecycle—typically up to 2,000 charge cycles and/or up to ten years (versus four years for lithium-ion and one year for lead-acid). A high discharge capacity of nearly 100% (versus 80% for lead-acid batteries) also means longer and fewer charge cycles, adding to the total lifespan of a lithium iron phosphate system overall.
A lithium iron phosphate battery outperforms in all categories relating to storage, too, with a condensed weight/size that provides four times the charge storage capacity of lead-acid counterparts. Minimal self-discharge also means that a lithium iron phosphate battery can hold its charge for up to a year when not in use. When in use, a LiFePO4’s low internal resistance will yield you a faster rate of charge and recharge, too, as well as the ability to handle higher discharge currents while maintaining constant voltage (typically ~3.2V). This allows the system to deliver full power until it is depleted.
Of course, there are a few disadvantages to lithium iron phosphate batteries that bear mentioning. These include poor performance in extremely low temperatures (i.e., below 0ºF) in comparison to lead-acid batteries, as well as decreased energy/cell density in comparison to lithium-ion batteries. However, the faster deterioration rate associated with lithium-ion batteries means that their capacity after one year of use will fall to that of a lithium iron phosphate battery – and after two years of use, a LiFePO4 will have a higher energy density than the original lithium-ion battery. The greater cell density of lithium-ion batteries also translates into higher volatility, i.e., in contrast to the relative chemical stability of LiFePO4.
Each of these factors impacts price point, such that lithium iron phosphate batteries can be significantly more expensive than lead-acid and lithium-ion competitors. Their numerous advantages and low rate of replacement do, however, have more people starting to justify the cost, for the enhanced value, longevity, and safety a lithium iron phosphate battery will deliver to any long-term energy storage project. Whatever your needs or constraints, IPS understands the importance of choosing the battery energy storage system that’s right for you. Please keep reading for our recommendations.
Technology Spotlight: The Blue Ion 2.0
With many options for lithium iron phosphate batteries out there, it can be challenging to find the best, most reliable choice for your home’s or business’s solar PV energy storage needs. That’s where IPS has you covered thanks to our partnership with Blue Planet Energy, which is in the business of “powering the world through super-high performance energy storage systems that make energy awareness delightful.” One way in which they’re bringing that mission to life is through the Blue Ion 2.0 – the safest, most powerful LiFePO4-based energy storage system on the (blue) planet.
Operational and technical specs
With an unparalleled lifespan of 8,000 cycles, a guaranteed 100% depth of discharge, a 10-year product warranty, a 15-year performance warranty, and a 21-year life expectancy, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call the Blue Ion 2.0 revolutionary. Here’s everything that makes it the very best lithium iron phosphate battery energy storage system on the market today:
- Reliability: Performance of a Blue Ion 2.0 is assured and measured through internal data capture and validation, with zero required active maintenance.
- Scalability: Safe enough for single families and powerful enough to support cities, the Blue Ion 2.0 modular cabinet is as sleek and inconspicuous as it is versatile, with available capacities of 8kWh, 12kWh, and 16kWh, each of which can be combined to reach a maximum system capacity of 448kWh.
- Speed: The Blue Ion 2.0 can be charged to 90% capacity in just 1 hour and boasts a 98% peak round-trip efficiency.
- Flexibility: The Blue Ion 2.0 is designed to be compatible with all leading inverter-charges and 3-phase commercial electrical services. It can support AC and DC-coupled system configurations, too.
- Connectability: Sync up and monitor your Blue Ion 2.0 from anywhere on your smartphone, laptop, or PC.
- Safety: The Blue Ion 2.0 uses a fire-safe and non-toxic LiFePO4 cell chemistry, making it unmatched in both safety and durability.
- Value: The Blue Ion 2.0 can save you up to 2.5 times the cost of long-term ownership of leading lead-acid varieties.
Proper operating conditions and specifications for the Blue Ion 2.0 include:
- Storage: Store your Blue Ion 2.0 on the floor indoors, in temperatures between -4ºF and 113ºF, at a maximum altitude of 29,029 ft, and in humidity not below 10% RH or above 90% RH. Optimal temperatures during discharge range from -4ºF and 122ºF, and from 32ºF to 113ºF during charge.
- Size: Dimensions are 42.5” x 23.75” x 24”. The cabinet alone weights 126lb, and each battery module clocks in at 59.5lb, for an 8kWh unit total of 364lb, a 12kWH unit total of 483lb, and a 16kWh of 602lb.
- Voltage: The Blue Ion 2.0 has a nominal system voltage of 50 Vdc and a maximum system voltage of 56 Vdc, with an overcurrent protection breaker of 250 Adc.
The Blue Ion 2.0 in practice
Solar plus storage isn’t just good for the planet – it can do good, too. That’s the vision at Blue Planet Energy, where CEO Henk Roger’s efforts have helped shape Hawaii’s 100% renewable energy commitment by 2045. Past efforts also include building out grid resilience for one of Vermont’s biggest electrical utilities and developing a Blue Ion 2.0 incentive program for businesses and homeowners in fire-prone California.
Engineered for extreme scalability, the Blue Ion 2.0 is helping to develop energy resiliency across entire communities, where the implementation of independent, clean energy microgrids can be critical to ensuring continued power during extreme climate events, natural disasters, cyberattacks, and grid mismanagement.
In Puerto Rico, Blue Energy has partnered with the American Red Cross on the “Solar Schools Project” to build out the island’s energy resilience in the wake of Hurricane Maria. So far, Blue Ion battery systems and solar PVs have been installed at 125 schools that act as emergency shelters across 83 municipalities. When the utility grid went down in a series of earthquakes in early 2020, these shelters were able to continue providing power, warm meals, and other critical services to communities on the island.
Choosing Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries
Whether you’re looking to expand on a current solar PV project or start a new one, a battery storage system is going to be a critical part of building your commitment to renewable energy and grid independence. It’s also going to be a long-term investment for the future, so you won’t want to skimp on metrics like battery safety, durability, and sustainability. That’s where lithium iron phosphate batteries and the Blue Ion 2.0, in particular, have you covered, delivering superior performance value across each category and even adding money back into your pocket over the long term. Contact one of our solar plus storage specialists today to learn more about the Blue Ion 2.0 and how you can join the global clean energy revolution.
Best Value for Off-Grid Living
About the Author
Reed Crossley is a Digital Marketing Strategist living in Boulder, Colorado, who works with energy, sustainability, and social impact organizations to build more resilient brands. Reed earned a Master of the Environment from CU Boulder with a specialization in Renewable and Sustainable Energy and currently volunteers with the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES). Ever quick with a movie reference or fun fact about the cleantech industry, Reed can be found hiking or kayaking in the mountains in his spare time. Connect with Reed on LinkedIn.