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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 used one.

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

It's easy to make a discredit something 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 have an indefinite life cycle meaning they dont wear out.

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

  • 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.

  • They are not effected by overcharging, deep discharing or high or low temperatures.

  • Most other batteries life will be shortened by being exposed to any one of 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 batteries assist the environment by removing carbon from the atmpsohere.

  • They contain no toxic metals like lead, cadmium, lithium making them the most environmentally friendly battery available.

  • Batteries that contain Lead, Cadmium and Lithium are toxic to our environment and us.

  • We dont 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 has Lithium Hydroxide in their electrolyte which become a problem at the end of its life.

  • Our electrolyte (KOH) has many different uses such as weed killer or drain cleaner 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 globally issues in disposing of these.

    Efficiency

  • 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 charge efficiency of the battery.

  • 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.

  • Lithium inverters are set to this safe voltage range so they can discharge 100% of this voltage range...not the entire battery.

  • Lead acid gel & wet cell batteries are touted as being 95% efficiency when new 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 because you won't damage them.

  • You can add on cells at any time to increase the capacity or voltage. Doing this with most other batteries will damage them.

  • 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. There are issues with long term storage of other batteries types.

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

  • 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 freeze or sulfate.

  • They dont need equalising charges.

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

  • With all other battery types if this happened you'd have to replace the battery and be out of power until the new battery arrived.

    More information

  • 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 heard some people saying Nickel Iron batteries require topping up weekly.

  • One of our customers is using our batteries at the extreme end of their capacity, daily. He tops his electrolyte up monthly.


    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.  

    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 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 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 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 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.

    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.