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About Nickel Iron Batteries

There is a lot of misinformation about Nickel Iron Batteries on the internet.

Many articles, youtube vidoes & blogs inform people about the disadvantages and problems with Nickel Iron batteries but in most cases they have never even used one.

Other people who discredit these batteries include installers and sales people who want make a sale.

It's easy to make a statement but much harder to provide the evidence.

LETS TALK ABOUT THE TRUE ADVANTAGES OF NICKEL IRON BATTERIES

Cost

  • Buying a Nickel Iron battery means once bought, you have it for life.

  • Our batteries now cost less than many other commonly used and well known solar/storage batteries including Lithium & Lead Acid batteries.

  • Our batteries have an indefinite life cycle meaning they dont wear out, unlike all other battery types.

  • They cost less per amp hour than any other battery sold for renewable energy storage(based on the life of the battery).

  • The electolyte needs renewing between 8-10 years. Cost around 5% the price of the battery with another 8-10 years of use time and time again.

  • They are not effected by overcharging, deep discharing or high or low temperatures. Most other batteries life will be shortened by these.

  • 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.

    Environmental

  • Nickel Iron batteries are 100% recyclable.

  • Because you dont have to replace a Nicke Iron battery there is no further mining, manufacturing or waste produced.

  • Our battery assist the environment by removing carbon from the atmpsohere.

  • They do not contain lead, cadmium, lithium or other toxic metals making them the most environmentally friendly battery on the market.

  • Most commonly known and used batteries contain Lead and Lithium which are toxic to the environment and people.

  • We dont actually know how long the plastic casing will last but eventually they will need to be replaced. These also can be recycled.

  • Our electrolyte does not contain Lithium Hydroxide and so has no environmental impact unlike other sellers of Nickel Iron batteries.

  • The electrolyte (Potassium Hydroxide) can be used for many different uses such as weed killer or drain cleaner after its life in the battery.

  • 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 issues globally in disposing of these in the future.

    Efficiency

  • Nickel Iron batteries are over 80% efficient over their life but this can depend on how your system is designed and used.

  • You need to cycle a brand new Nickel Iron battery to raise its rated capacity up meaning its efficiency during this process will be lower.

  • Nickel Iron batteries can be discharged much lower than lead acid & lithium batteries, meaning its efficiency increases due to less charge needed.

  • You hear Lithium batteries can be 100% discharged. This is not entirely true. You cannot discharge the battery to zero volts.

  • Lithium batteries must stay in a specific voltage range or become unstable. Inverters are set to this range so they can discharge 100% of this.

  • Most types of lead acid batteries are touted as being 95% efficiency. This maybe true for a new battery but it drops dramatically as it ages.

    Other benefits

  • You can discharge them until your inverter turns off or your back up power kicks in without damaging the battery.

  • So you don't have to worry about overloading your batteries, you wont damage them.

  • You can add cells on at any time to increase your battery capacity or voltage requirements. This can't be done with a lot of other batteries.

  • They do not contain acid or produce any corrosive gases when charged or discharged.

  • 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. Lead Acid batteries need to be stored in a charged state.

  • If your solar or wind charge contoller fails you can directly charge our batteries until you replace the controller.

  • Nickel Iorn batteries can be used with all solar and renewable energy system components (wind and solar).

  • Some inverters do not have the working voltage range a NiFe battery. It just means you can't use all the stored energy of our batteries.

  • They do not freeze or sulfate.

  • They dont need equalising charges.

  • If one cell fails you can still use the battery while waiting for a replacement cell however this has never happened with our batteries.

  • With all other battery types if this happened you would have to replace the battery and be out of power while you waited for the replacement.

    More information

  • It's claimed that a nickel Iron battery self discharges 1% per day.

  • If a battery is used and charged daily, the 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 12v battery to the same voltage, self discharge would not matter as you would be replacing the battery.

  • Self discharge doesn't hurt a Nickel Iorn battery but it does with lead acid batteries.

  • Maintenance requires topping up around 3-4 times a year with distilled water in normal used. If worked hard you may do this more often.

  • We have heard some companies saying Nickel Iron batteries require topping up weekly. The closest I personally know of is monthly.

  • This is because this customer is using our batteries at their extreme end of their capability on a daily basis.

  • He has been great for our business becuase others see what he does with his bateries and purchase batteries from us.


    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 for 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 is inexpensive when compared to battery replacement. Nickel iron batteries like to be worked and thrive on hard work and cycling.

    What is a Nickel Iron cell?

    A nickel Iron cell is made up of several pockets, each made of finely perforate strips and filled with active material that are mechanically manufactured to form a sheet – like plate. The plates are assembled and 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 but this is not the correct.

    Each cell has a nominal voltage of 1.2 volts. No matter the size of the cell, all Nickel Iron cells are 1.2volts.

    To make a battery, you add cells together until you get the voltage you require.  

    Example:          
    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 amount of 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 like to be initally charged between 1.6 and 1.75 volts per cell at around 80+ amps. (12volt ~ 16 - 17.5volts, 24volts ~ 32 – 35volts, 48volt ~ 64 - 70volts) if possible.

    After they have been "cycled in" (the battery working capacity brought up) these settings can be turned down to reduce the electrolyte topping up maintanance required.

    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.

    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 like they were. This maybe lack of daylight hours, consistent cloudy days 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 (cheap or contaminated water). We recommend using good distilled quality water.

    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 1.85 or signiificantly 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 applicance to save their battery and do this with our batteries.

    There is an old saying which also applies to Nickel Iron batteries "use it or loose it".

    This doesnt 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 do be scared to work then 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.

    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.