Batteries provide backup power during gaps in electricity generation. They are critical for some energy systems but are expensive and may require maintenance or replacement.

Batteries are the heart of any off-grid energy system and provide a way to bridge intermittent grid power. At the same time, they are fragile and vulnerable to abuse. Premature failure of an energy system’s batteries is a common cause of underperformance. Replacement batteries are a significant investment, and it is more cost effective to buy and care for a high-quality battery. This document will guide toolkit users through basic battery concepts, chemistries, and metrics that donors, program managers, and facility operators should understand before procuring a renewable energy system.

The two most common battery chemistries used in on- and off-grid energy systems are lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. Lead-acid batteries are the incumbent technology in energy storage for most energy storage systems in health-care facilities. However, the technology has its limitations, including short lifespan, temperature sensitivity, low current carrying capability, and high weight. As the manufacturing costs of lithium-ion batteries drop, energy system designers are increasingly looking toward lithium-ion as a replacement energy storage technology in health-care facilities.

This document provides information on which battery specifications to use to differentiate between different types of lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. It also explains how batteries can be designed for different applications and which battery designs are most appropriate for powering health. Proper care and use and end-of-life considerations for both lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries are also covered.

Additional Resources

Donors, project managers, and facility managers need to know which safety standards to look for when purchasing batteries. This is particularly true for flooded lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries. Links to standards for both chemistries are included below.

Remote monitoring is frequently included in remote energy systems to allow technicians to identify problems before they happen and maximize battery life. A link to a Powering Health website explaining how to understand and install remote monitoring equipment is also included below.

Finally, a link to the Battery University, an external website that includes numerous, detailed technical articles on multiple types of batteries and provides information on advanced battery science, technology, operation, and maintenance.

  • Technical Standards

    Lead-Acid Battery Standards

    Many organizations have established standards that address lead-acid battery safety, performance, testing, and maintenance. View the standards

  • Technical Standards

    Lithium-Ion Battery Standards

    Many organizations have established standards that address lithium-ion battery safety, performance, testing, and maintenance. View the standards

  • Energy System Components

    Remote Monitoring

    Remote monitoring of health facility power installations increases the speed, effectiveness, and value of maintenance activities. Learn more

  • Website

    Battery University

    Battery University is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to learn about advanced battery chemistry, charging, and maintenance. Visit the website

  • Mini-Grids Toolkit

    Emerging Technologies in Energy Storage

    Promising new storage technologies include lithium-ion batteries, metal-air and flow batteries, and flywheel storage. Learn more