The Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePo4) battery in the Solarpod 240 is rated for over 2,000 cycles. With a lead acid battery you're lucky if you get 500 cycles.
So which battery is cheaper? Well, you'd have to buy four lead acid batteries to get the same cycle life as just one LiFePo4.
While better technology usually comes with a higher price tag, if you compare the cost per cycle between lead acid and LiFePo4, you'll save a ton of money buying the better technology.
Oh, yeah, one more thing. LiFePo4 is better for the environment, is non-combustible, and holds a charge longer so it actually works when you need it. There's nothing cheap about a dead battery.
As promised in the last post, today we’re going to discuss the differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. Before we get into the differences in the crystals, and in the interest of full disclosure, let us tell you about what we use and why.
We here at Sunbird Solar use monocrystalline photovoltaic cells so you probably expect us to tout them as being the best. And you’re right! They are the best for our application. We want to provide the highest output from varying solar conditions with the smallest footprint. This means, in plain English, that in order to remain portable we need to use the technology that works best for all conditions. We cannot optimize for one particular location or even one particular season. Also, panel size and weight have a huge impact on portability, as well. Who wants to lug around a huge, heavy panel with them everywhere they go? We sure don’t.
Yes, monocrystalline is more expensive to produce than polycrystalline, but the end result is a smaller, lighter, better performing panel that maximizes power output.
So why is poly less expensive than mono? Is it junk? Absolutely not. In many use cases choosing polycrystalline photovoltaics is the way to go.
The process of creating polycrystalline panels is less expensive because of how they are cast. Silicon is heated to its melting point, cast, and cooled with a seed crystal. When cooled the silicon branches out forming many (hence, poly) smaller crystals. Therefore the surface isn’t uniform. A uniform surface is more efficient than one that isn’t so it takes a larger polycrystalline panel to equal the output of a monocrystalline panel. Due to the lower cost of the polycrystalline panels, and if you have the space to spare, you may be able to reduce your panel cost while still meeting your power generation goals.
So why is monocrystalline silicon more expensive? The process of creating the cylindrical crystals used in monocrsytalline panels is slower and more involved. Instead of casting the silicon with seed crystals, as in the polycrystalline panels, the seed crystal is slowly pulled from molten silicon. It is slowly cooled as it is pulled until it reaches the proper size and shape. It’s like pulling taffy! This is known as the Czochralski method, which is obviously more involved and exacting than the casting process.
That doesn’t mean polycrystalline panels are bad. Far from it. It just means that you need to choose the right kind of panel for the application you have in mind. For us, with our emphasis on power output and portability, that means monocrystalline panels.
Our Solarpod™ 240, 1K, and Polaris 5K use the amazing LiFePo4 Lithium Iron Phosphate battery technology. We’re quite happy with the great performance and incredible safety of LiFePo4. But there are so many different battery technologies and acronyms floating around that it can be confusing. We’re going to explain what LiFePo4 is and why we’re so enthusiastic about it.
Lithium Iron Phosphate is a natural mineral. Due to it’s color and crystalline nature it’s known as an Olivine. It was discovered in 1996 by the researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. The molecular formula for Lithium Iron Phosphate is LiFePo4, but it is also known as simply LFP.
Batteries that use LFP cathodes have great thermal and chemical stability. They provide a longer cycle life, a constant discharge voltage, and slower rate of capacity loss. What this means in plain English is that LFP batteries last longer and provide full power until drained.
Increased safety is also a major benefit of LFP batteries. Their great thermal and chemical stability ensure the batteries are structurally stable. LFP is also safer than manganese and cobalt avoiding financial and environmental costs. LFP has no known carcinogenicity. That means it’s not known to cause cancer.
With those kinds of benefits LFP was a natural choice for Solarpod™ by Sunbird Solar. Longer life, constant discharge, better for the environment, and better for you.
Next up we’re going to discuss the difference between mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline solar panels.
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Our participation in the IADT School in a Box program in partnership with UNSECO is perhaps the most rewarding thing we do. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has transformed our approach to education in the developed world. Advances in technology, such as tablet computers like Apple's iPad, have truly empowered teachers the world over.
Yet, this revolution has not had a chance to take root in some developing countries. One missing ingredient has been the electricity required to power the technology. The Solarpod™ line of solar generators provides that power for IADT and UNSECO so they can empower teachers anywhere the sun shines. This is truly Learning Without Limits.
In support of this initiative we've ventured to UNESCO's Mobile Learning Week 2014 in Paris. This has been a great conference. We've met some old friends, and made some new ones. What we all share is a common vision to leverage mobile technology for education.
We'll be talking more about our efforts with IADT and UNESCO in future blog posts. We invite you to follow along with us as we help IADT bring the light of education to the world. Sign up for our newsletter, like us on facebook, or follow us on twitter.
Solarpod™ 240 Data is an ultra-compact and lightweight solar power station. The Solarpod™ 240 Data features total WiFi and Internet data connectivity. This portable power station also functions as a router connecting to the internet via SIM card or Ethernet cable. Access and store media files with your Solarpod™ from SD and microSD cards or USB storage drive. With the built-in WiFi capability you can stream music and videos to any connected device.
Great for backup power at your home, office, or as a mobile solar generator wherever you want to be. The 240Wh battery capacity enables self-sufficiency when off-the-grid. The powerful 250W Modified Sine Wave output is more than enough to support your major electronic devices and camp lights. Take Solarpod™ anywhere to provide portable power where you need it.
Solarpod™ Buddy Data is a compact, solar powered rechargeable battery with 32GB of internal memory. You can recharge the battery wherever there is light. Just connect and charge your mobile phones, tablets, mp3 players, handheld game consoles and most other small electronic devices. Pocket-sized and easy to carry anywhere, Solarpod™ Buddy Data is a must-have for the smartphone generation!
On one full charge Solarpod™ Buddy Data can power:
Product Weight : 350 g / 0.77 lbs
Dimensions : 130 x 80 x 20 mm / 5.1” x 3.15” x 0.79”
Internal Memory : 32GB Storage
Battery : Lithium-Polymer
Power Capacity : 3.7V 5000mAh
Solar Panel : 5.5V 300mA x 3 panels
Rated Input : DC 5V 1500mA
Rated Output : 5V 2000mA & 5V 1000mA
Charging time : 2.6 hours through USB port, 4 hours through solar panels (under optimal sunlight conditions)
Life-span : 500+ cycles
The Solarpod™ 1K Data features total WiFi and Internet data connectivity. This portable power station also functions as a router connecting to the Internet via SIM card or Ethernet cable. Access and store media files with your Solarpod™ from SD and microSD cards or USB storage drive. With connected storage and WiFi capability you can stream music and videos to any connected device.
The 1000W Pure Sine Wave inverter delivers a crisp, clean AC output which can support most home appliances and electric power tools. The 960Wh battery capacity enables prolonged self-sufficiency off-the-grid. Apart from serving as a personal power backup or mobile power source, Solarpod™ 1K Data provides professional grade power for disaster relief efforts. The incredibly compact and lightweight Solarpod™ 1K Data delivers this capability while being remarkably simple to use.
The Solarpod™ Polaris 5K Data gives you the power to go the distance. The plug and play design will have you up and running in record time. There is no installation required to start powering your life. With the Solarpod™ Polaris 5K Data you can run a full size refrigerator for up to 200 hours or power an Air Conditioner for up to 8 hours on a single charge.
The Solarpod™ Polaris 5K Data is the ultimate hot spot with mobile data and WiFi connectivity. The 3TB hard drive allows you to stream files to all connected devices. Create a secure back-up of all of your important data at any time. The transportable design allows you to take the power with you. The Solarpod™ Polaris 5K Data powers your life all day wherever you want to be.
Sunbird Solar is proud to be a part of the School In A Box initiative in Mozambique. This is a very exciting and important program sponsored by UNESCO and the Mozambican Ministry for Education.
See how solar power is changing lives at the IADT blog: