There is a lot of mis-information or simply untruthful information about
Nickel Iron Batteries on the internet.
Many articles, youtube vidoes &
blogs allege fanciful problems with Nickel Iron batteries.
The question you should ask is, have they ever used one and can they back up where their information comes from?
Other people who discredit our batteries include installers and sales peoplen who just want to sell you products they make money from.
It's easy to discredit Nickel Iron batteries but much harder to provide the evidence.
LETS TALK ABOUT THE TRUE ADVANTAGES OF NICKEL IRON BATTERIES
Our Nickel Iron batteries have the LOWEST TOTAL OWNERSHIP COST of ANY battery chemistry available today!Based on direct cost comparison, our batteries are still cheaper than lithium batteries.
In fact, the battery price calculated over its life, costs much less per usable kWh than any other battery.
Against using Grid Power, our nickel iron batteries costs much less per usable kWh than any electricity rates in Australia!
Buying a Nickel Iron battery means once bought, you have it for life.
Our batteries have an indefinite life cycle meaning they dont wear out under normal operating parameters.
The electolyte needs replacing around 8-10 years.
The cost is around 5% the price of the battery with another 8-10 years of use time and time again.
Some original Edison Nickel Iron Cells are over 90 years old and still being used today.
No other battery on the market can claim the longevity of a Nickel Iron battery.
Nickel Iron batteries are 100% recyclable.
Because you don't have to replace a Nickel Iron battery there is no further mining, manufacturing or waste produced.
Our batteries assist the environment by removing carbon from the atmosphere.
They produce hydrogen that can be captured and used as a secondary fuel source.
They contain no toxic metals like lead, cadmium or lithium making them the most environmentally friendly battery available.
We don't know how long the plastic casing will last but eventually it will need to be replaced. These are also recyclable.
The battery itself is taken out of the old casing and put into new casings, filled with electrolye ready for a new life.
Our electrolyte contains no Lithium Hydroxide and has no environmental impact.
All other sellers of Nickel Iron batteries add Lithium Hydroxide to their electrolyte which is extremely toxic to us and the environment.
Our electrolyte (KOH) has many different uses such as weed killer, drain cleaner or fertiliser after its life in the battery has finished.
In the Daintree area of Queensland, self sufficient lifestyles has created an environmental issue in disposal of lead acid batteries.
With people now moving towards Lithium Batteries, there will be even more future global issues in disposing of these toxic batteries.
Nickel Iron batteries are over 80% efficient over their life but this can depend on how your system is designed and used.
A new Nickel Iron (NiFe) battery needs to be cycled to raise its rated capacity. During this process, its efficiency will be lower.
Nickel Iron batteries can be discharged lower than lead acid & lithium batteries. This raises the efficiency of the battery.
Our batteries have a significantly larger usable voltage range than all other batteries.
This means you can at least halve the Amp-hour size needed to provide the same usable power than other batteries, saving you money.
You hear Lithium batteries can be 100% discharged. This isn't entirely true.
Lithium batteries must stay in a specific voltage range or become unstable and possibly explode and or catch fire.
Lithium inverters are set to this safe voltage range so they can discharge 100% of this voltage range...not the entire battery.
New Lead acid gel/wet cell batteries are touted as being 95% efficiency but the efficiency drops dramatically as the battery ages.
In fact, these are the actual usable discharge percentages of the three common types of storage batteries:
Lead Acid (12v) has 1.5volts of real usable power (12v -13.5v) = 11% of the entire battery
They are made up of individual cells which means you can make up any combination of voltage and or amp/hrs.
They can remain discharged for years without damage unlike other batteries types that require charging.
If your solar or wind charge contoller fails, you can directly charge our batteries until you replace the controller (this only applies to 12volt wind or solar panels) .
Lithium NMC has .5volts of real usable power (3.6v - 4.1v) = 12% of the entire battery
Nickel Iron (12v) has 6volts of real usable power (9.5v - 15.5v) = 39% of the entire battery
Overcharging or constant deep discharing (to the lower volatge limit) does not harm a Nickel Iron battery.
Most other batteries life will be shortened by being exposed to overcharging, deep discharging or high and low temperatures.
High or low temperatures have little impact on their performance, the electrolyte does not freeze.
You can discharge a NiFe battery to its lowest voltage limit on a daily basis without damaging the battery.
So you don't have to worry about overloading and damaging your batteries.
They don't catch fire.
You can add on cells at any time to increase the capacity or voltage. Doing this with most other batteries will damage the new battery.
They do not contain acid or produce any corrosive gases when charged or discharged.
Nickel Iron batteries can be used with all solar and renewable energy system components (wind, micro and solar).
Some inverters do not have the voltage range a NiFe battery. It just means you can't use all the stored energy of our batteries.
They do not sulfate.
They don't need equalising charges.
If one cell fails you can still use the battery while waiting for a replacement cell however this has never happened to our batteries.
If a cell failed with other types of batteries, you'd have to replace the battery and be out of power until the new battery arrived.
It's claimed that a Nickel Iron battery self discharges 1% per day.
If a battery is used and charged daily, self discharge rate just does not matter as the recharging eliminates any self discharge.
A 12v nickel iron battery is fully charged at 17volts and will self discharge more than 1% per day from that voltage.
It will rapidly self discharging from 17volts and slow down as the voltage lowers. It will sit at 12volts for years.
If you charged any other battery to the same voltage, self discharge wouldn't matter as you would be replacing the battery.
Self discharge doesn't hurt a Nickel Iron battery but it does with many other types of batteries.
Electrolyte is topped up around 3-4 times a year with distilled water. If worked hard you may do this more often.
We have read articles saying Nickel Iron batteries require topping up weekly. This would fit into the same catagory as pigs flying.
A number of our customers report using 100% of their battery capacity daily and top up their electrolyte once a month.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can I expect my nickel iron batteries to last?
No one knows how long a nickel iron battery will last as some of the original batteries manufactured by Thomas Edison’s battery storage company are still in use today.
The new wave of nickel iron batteries have been manufactured for over 30 years and are still in use today, still producing one hundred percent of their rated capacity.
What is the electrolyte made up of?
The electrolyte is Potassium Hydroxide mixed with distilled water. Water makes up around 70% of the electrolyte. Electrolyte replacement costs around 5% the price of a new battery.
What is a Nickel Iron cell?
A nickel Iron cell is made up of active nickel and iron oxides held in pockets pressed onto a backing plate mechanically manufactured to form a sheet like plate. The plates are separated and insulated from each other by means of plastic separators.
What is a Nickel Iron (NiFe) battery?
Nickel Iron batteries are made up from individual cells. People often believe one cell is a battery.
Each cell has a voltage of 1.2 volts. All Nickel Iron cells are 1.2volts.
To make a battery, you add cells together until you get the voltage you require.
10 cells = 12 volts (10 x 1.2volts = 12 volts)
20 cells = 24 volts (20 x 1.2volts = 24 volts)
40 cells = 48 volts (40 x 1.2volts = 48 volts)
You can add individual cells to a Nickel Iron battery bank at any time if you need to increase the power you want to store.
To do this with other types of batteries, you need to purchase an entire battery which costs significantly more money.
What type of battery charger do I use?
You can either use a solar charge controller, an inverter with a built in battery charger or a DC generator.
Our batteries need to be initally charged between 1.6 and 1.75 volts per cell at C/5 charge rate. (12volt ~ 16 - 17.5volts, 24volts ~ 32 – 35volts, 48volt ~ 64 - 70volts) at C/5 charge rate.
After they have been "cycled in" (the battery working capacity brought up) the voltage settings can be turned down to reduce the electrolyte topping up maintanance required. It is important to keep the charge amps at a minimum of C/7 rate for 7 hrs.
I have a solar system, do I have to use a charge controller with Nickel Iron batteries?
No, you do not have to use a charge controller on these batteries as these batteries can be overcharged without damage however if you do not use a charge controller you need to ensure your system does not exceed C/4 charge rate and can provide at least C/7 charge rate. You also need to ensure the voltage does not exceed the inverters voltage limit.
What can happen with Nickel Iron batteries?
If the battery shows signs of not working as it should such as voltage dropping off quicker than usual there could be a number of reasons.
One could be they are not being charged properly. This maybe lack of daylight hours, consistent cloudy days, too small charge system or something in your system is not working as it should be. It may also be you have adjusted your charge settings too low.
It could be impurities being introduced into the electolyte. Using only good quality distilled (not deionised) water will reduce the possibility of problems that can arise from this.
It could also be time for an electrolyte replacement but unless the electolyte is over 8 years old it would be advisable to properly check other possible reasons first.
One quick way to check to see if the electrolyte needs to be replaced is to check the specific gravity. This is between 1.2 and 1.21 in new electrolyte. It will need to be replaced if it is under 1.185 or significantly higher than 1.21.
It may also be you are not using your battery enough and its rated capacity has dropped.
In this situation you will need to reset your charge setting up and cycle the battery back up.
Sometimes people that have been used lead acid batteries fall back into turning off applicances to save their battery.
There is an old saying which also applies to Nickel Iron batteries "use it or loose it".
This doesn't mean you have lost it forever as all you have to do is cycle them back up again. Our batteries loved to be worked and thrive on hard work and cycling. So don't be scared to work them, you won't shorten their life.
Ensuring the batteries do not fall below the LOW level mark on the battery casing is important. Failure to to this will result in the capcity of the battery being reduced. It can also create the cell to hold more hydrogen than it normally would.
Keeping the electrolyte between the high and low level marks means the hydrogen will always be at a too high concentration to ignite.
Please contact us if you are not sure about what you need or if you already have a system, how it will work with our batteries.