Power is a critical component of any project or system that requires electricity. This can be your vehicle, your home, or a device remotely operating. For all of these, you can either buy electricity from a utility company or generate your own.
Solar panels convert light energy from the sun into electrical energy. If your energy usage doesn’t match how much you generate, excess energy can be stored in batteries for later use.
There exist many types of battery chemistries that each have pros and cons. For long cycle-life and high-current charging/discharging, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) is an excellent choice for solar power systems. A well-maintained LiFePO4 battery can experience 3,500+ charge/discharge cycles before the charge capacity is reduced to 80%. If discharged/charged every day, that’s about 10 years.
Battery management systems (BMS) are used to monitor and protect the batteries. This includes charging during high or low temperatures, high and low voltage disconnect, charge and discharge monitoring, and more.
If you don’t want to build your own system (battery bank, BMS, charge controller, and inverter), there are a number of power stations that combine these components into a single unit. These are often more expensive than building your own system, but can be more compact and reliable than a DIY solution.
Power monitoring allows you to monitor how much and where your devices are using electricity as well as how much you’re generating with solar panels or other generators. Many BMSs and portable power systems have power monitoring built in, but being able to measure power consumption of an entire circuit breaker panel and power generation of solar panels provides a larger picture.