In the following, we’ll discuss the differences between 12V and 24V battery systems. We’ll unravel the complexities, pros, and cons of these essential energy sources, empowering you with knowledge to make informed decisions for your application.
What is Voltage (V)?
What is Voltage (V)?
Before we compare, it is crucial to understand a fundamental technical term: Voltage. Voltage represents the pressure at which electrical current, measured in Amps, is pushed out. As the name suggests, this factor is immensely important for batteries and electrical cables. Too little pressure can render the appliance non-functional, while excessive pressure can cause severe damage.
Can I use 12V batteries on a 24V system & vice versa?
In short… No! Mixing 12V batteries and 24V systems or vice versa is not recommended, as it can lead to serious issues. These systems have different voltage requirements and connecting batteries of different voltages can result in damage to the batteries, devices, or appliances connected to the system.
For example, if you connect a 12V battery to a 24V system, the 12V battery will not provide enough voltage to power the system effectively, and it might overload the battery trying to match the higher voltage demand. Conversely, if you connect a 24V battery to a 12V system, you risk damaging the devices designed to operate at 12V due to the higher voltage output.
Can you Series 12V batteries to make 24V?
In some chemistries like Sealed Lead Acid, you can combine 2x 12V batteries to achieve a 24V setup. However, this is not possible with rechargeable lithium battery packs. This restriction arises from each battery having its own battery management system, designed and rated specifically for the pack’s voltage. Connecting them in series would disrupt the battery management systems, potentially causing damage to the battery.
So, why do different appliances require different voltages?
12V is the more common standard and is used for most electrical appliances. This is mainly due to it being favoured in cars in the early timeline of battery history. Their popularity has caused most electrical appliances to run on 12V. It’s worth noting that 12V is an approximation and can vary slightly based on factors like load or state of charge. 12V systems work well for lower-power appliances due to their simplicity and short wire runs. In contrast, 24V systems are rarer because there isn’t often a need for such high voltage. However, they find application in larger vehicles, enabling the transmission of amps over longer distances more effectively than 12V systems due to the higher pressure. Additionally, 24V systems allow the use of smaller wire diameters, reducing wiring costs since higher voltage requires less current to produce the same power. This is why electrical currents are transported at high voltages along overhead cables.
The smaller wires in 24V systems highlight a significant drawback of 12V systems: the larger and less efficient wires required. Nevertheless, due to the infrequent need for 24V, most applications requiring it must run through a converter to reduce the voltage from 24V to 12V, preventing damage to the appliance. Consequently, 24V systems often occupy more space than 12V systems.
The Pros of 12V Battery Systems
Widespread Availability: 12V systems are incredibly common and widely used in various applications, including automotive, marine, and small electronic devices. This ubiquity ensures easy availability of 12V batteries and related components.
Simplicity: 12V systems are relatively simple and easy to install. They have fewer components, making them straightforward for DIY enthusiasts and smaller-scale applications.
Lower Cost: Due to their widespread use and simpler designs, 12V batteries and components are generally more affordable than higher voltage counterparts.
Compatibility: Many appliances and devices, especially in the automotive industry, are designed to run on 12V systems. This compatibility simplifies integration and replacement processes.
Shorter Wire Runs: 12V systems are efficient for short distances. For applications where the power source is relatively close to the device, 12V systems experience less power loss over short wire runs.
The Cons of 12V Battery Systems
Limited Power Output: One of the significant limitations of 12V systems is their power output. For high-power applications, such as large vehicles or heavy machinery, 12V systems may not provide sufficient power, necessitating the use of higher voltage systems.
Voltage Drop: Over longer wire runs, 12V systems can experience voltage drop, leading to decreased efficiency and potential loss of power. This limitation requires careful consideration of wiring lengths in larger installations.
Large Wire Size: To carry high currents at low voltages (like 12V), thicker wires are required. This factor can increase the cost and complexity of installations, especially in systems where a significant amount of power needs to be transmitted over longer distances.
The Pros of 24V Battery Systems
Increased Power Output: 24V systems can deliver more power than 12V systems, making them suitable for high-power applications such as larger vehicles, industrial equipment, and some renewable energy systems. This higher power output is especially valuable in situations where more energy is needed.
Reduced Voltage Drop: With higher voltage, 24V systems experience reduced voltage drop over long wire runs compared to 12V systems. This makes them more efficient and practical for applications requiring power transmission over extended distances.
Smaller Wire Size: Higher voltage systems like 24V require smaller wire sizes to transmit the same amount of power compared to lower voltage systems like 12V. This can lead to cost savings in wiring and installation, especially for longer distances.
Efficiency: 24V systems often operate more efficiently than 12V systems, especially in situations where high power is required. The reduced current flow in the wires results in less heat loss and more effective energy transmission.
Compatibility with Some Appliances: Certain appliances and devices are specifically designed to operate on 24V systems. Using a 24V battery system eliminates the need for additional converters, leading to a more straightforward and efficient setup.
The Cons of 24V Battery Systems
Less Common: 24V systems are less common in everyday applications compared to 12V systems. Finding specialized components or replacements might be more challenging and potentially more expensive.
Size and Space: 24V batteries and associated components can be larger and heavier than their 12V counterparts. This can be a limitation in applications where space and weight are critical factors.
Complexity: While 24V systems can be more efficient, they also require careful planning and design, especially in terms of wire sizing and system configuration. This complexity can make installations more challenging for beginners.
Understanding these pros and cons is essential when deciding between a 12V and 24V battery system is suitable for your application. It’s crucial to weigh these factors against the specific requirements and constraints of the project to make an informed choice. If you have any questions, contact us and one of our team will be happy to help.