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RedFlow: Z-Cell Battery Company

What you should know about the Redflow battery, that uses Z-Cell & ZBM-2 Battery core.

The RedFlow and ZCell battery technology is designed by Australian Redflow Limited, and an Australian Stock Exchange-listed company (ASX:RFX).

Redflow was founded in 2005 and developed a unique hybrid zinc-bromide flow battery technology. The core Redflow product is there ZBM, the world's smallest production zinc-bromide hybrid flow battery in 2019.

We don't actually sell the Redflow or ZCELL battery technology, we consider it a Great energy storage unit, the Only negative is the Cost per kW, being approx. $1'100kW in 2018.

However, in mid 2018 Redflow established its core Manufacturing facility in Thailand, the core capability is to make it's battery stack in Thailand, Redflow successfully produced 150 batteries during December 2018. This production facility equips Redflow to confidence to execute on a number of key engineering projects and incremental productivity improvements, said to reduce manufacturing costs by 30% by the end of 2019, that would be competitive at approx. $770 per kW.

This energy storage technology is built to be scale down to home and small business environments and can scale up to grid-scale energy storage systems.

Zinc-Bromide batteries are claiming to be able to beat lithium-ion for residential applications, as “Flow batteries typically last for 20 years without aggressive degradation".  Where Lithium-ion (Tesla type) warranties show nearly 50 percent degradation over a 5~10-year period if heavily discharged/overwork.

Customers want 20-year lifetimes to match their solar system’s expected useful life !

The ZCell is the residential battery reportedly beats the Tesla Powerwall, and indeed, all other residential batteries on the market bar NiFe & NiCd-(.pdf) batteries, based on a "cost-per-total-warranted-kilowatt-hour", at AUD $0.42 compared to AUD $0.50 for Tesla.

In 2018 RedFlow moved it manufacturing from the US to Asia, the re-location and increase in demand should bring the battery purchase cost per kW installed down from approx. $1'000kW, the greater the reduction in cost, should equate to a wider uptake of this great Australian technology.

However, what is not widely advertised is the facts that, the investment cost for ALL small to large scale micro grids installations, are able to be self funded based on energy savings alone !

RedFlow ZBM2 Battery's used in LSB system RedFlow ZBM2 Battery's used in LSB system RedFlow ZBM2 Battery's used in LSB system

Residential Z-cell battery in housing.

ZBM battery Housing.

ZBM battery bank.

RedFlow ZBM2 Battery's used in LSB system RedFlow ZBM2 Battery's used in LSB system RedFlow ZBM2 Battery's used in LSB system

Fuses & Switches to Units.

Unit Sub-Board.

Main Sub Board (MSB) Wiring.

RedFlow ZBM2 Battery's used in LSB system RedFlow ZBM2 Battery's used in LSB system RedFlow ZBM2 Battery's used in LSB system

ZBM battery.

240kWh ZBM battery bank.

200kWh & 400kWh ZBM battery bank in 6mt shipping container.

Technical Specs

  • Usable Capacity 10kWh, 48v.
  • Depth of Discharge 100%.
  • Efficiency 90% round-trip.
  • Power 7kW peak / 5kW continuous.
  • Supported Applications;
    • Solar or other generation self-consumption.
    • Time of use, load shifting.
    • Backup (Blackout proofing).
    • Off grid.
  • Manufacturer's Warranty: 10 years or 36,500 kWh of delivered energy (whichever comes first).
  • Scalable: Up to and over 650kW LSB.
  • Operating Temperature: -20°C to 50°C (-4° to 122°F).
  • Dimensions: L x W x D: 1150mm x 740mm x 145mm (44" x 29" x 5.5").
  • Weight: 120 kg (264.4 lb).
  • Installation: Floor mounted Indoor or outdoor.
  • Certification: UL and IEC certified Grid code compliant.

How does it work ?

We offer RedFlow batteries as a service to our clients, for installation a registered Z-Cell installerOpens in New window tab is needed.

Operating electrolyte temperature range 15°C to 50°C (59°F to 122°F): ZCell can typically operate at ambient temperatures outside this range for extended periods.

For residential installations you can install a single unit or up to 60+ batteries for commercial applications, that are stacked side by side & vertically in a 6mt shipping container, called large battery storage (LBS).

The Z-Cell or ZBM, or ZBM2 comes with a 10 year warranty, the battery has a daily 100% cycle, meaning it's designed to charge and discharge each day. The efficiency of the battery is high, so although it has a 10kW capacity, you can simply add additional batteries until you have the required kW to match your daily power consumption.

If you don't already have solar panels, the ZCell or ZBM2 can be purchased as part of a complete system that includes solar panels or in turn use a generator to charge the Redflow in an off-grid situation.

Is the ZCell or ZBM2 big enough to take my house off the grid ?

It depends on your energy needs and the number of people living in your household, but a 10kW battery should be big enough to make most households independent of the electricity grid. You can install two or more battery units to increase your storage capacity.

What is the payback time ?

If you are thinking of purchasing a ZCell or ZBM2, it's worth calculating how the cost of the unit compares with the saving you will make on your electricity bills. There are many factors that need to be taken into account, but you can get a good estimate of your payback time by knowing what you currently pay for electricity, and if you already have solar panels, and know how much of your solar energy you use and how much you can export to the grid.

It's also worthwhile checking if there are any state or even local government feed-in Tariff (Rebate) available for purchasing solar panels or a battery storage system. For example, Adelaide City Council are/were providing Rebates of up to $5,000 for installing solar panels or a battery storage system.

What if I already have solar panels ?

The payback time would be less if you already own a solar panel system that has already paid for itself in reduced energy costs.  We estimate a payback time of close to 4 years on self consumption if all solar power could be expect, well short of the Powerwall's warranty period of 10 years.

Payback times will be different for every household, but in some instances it seems the payback time may well exceed the warranty period for the Powerwall.

What's also clear is that tapping into your own solar power as much as possible, rather than feeding it back into the grid with a measly feed-in tariff, will decrease your payback time.

These are just simple calculations to give a rough estimate of the potential payback time. There are a range of factors that can influence the outcome, including increases in electricity prices and ongoing maintenance costs, which you might want to factor into your own calculations.

Can I use a Redflow batteries to Load-Shift ?

Yes, if you have or you install Off-Peak Power to the premises, with or without solar you can still take advantage of off-peak electricity prices.

The idea is to charge the batteries during off-peak times, and then use the stored electricity during peak times. This is known as load-shifting – but it doesn't make much financial sense unless the off-peak rate is very cheap.

If you intent to use any battery this way, Shop around and you will find energy retailers offering Off-peak power from $0.07~$0.10kWh, some 200~400% cheaper than the daytime electricity rate!

Will battery storage become cheaper ?

Yes, the costs of battery storage systems have been falling at a rapid rate and forecasts are for this trend to continue as more and more households adopt them. For example, the cost of battery storage fell 14% every year on average between 2007 and 2016, according to a report by the Climate Council, and it's expected that prices will halve again within the next five years.

Simply looking at these battery types, it is easy to see the battery cost per *kW;

  1. 5.2 kWh Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePo4) batteries cost approx. $2'588 ÷ 5.2kWh =$498 per kW.
  2. 12 kWh Nickel iron (NiFe) batteries cost approx. $6'720 ÷ 12kWh =$560 per kW.
  3. 13.5 kWh Tesla Lithium-ion batteries cost approx. $8'800 ÷ 13.5kWh =$650 per kW.
  4. 10 kWh RedFlow Bromide batteries cost approx. $10'000 ÷ 10kWh =$1'000 per kW (Australian).

Clearly leaving LiFe & NiFe batteries well ahead of thee rest in price and proven reliability, with NiFe reported as new after 30 years!

Solar panels are also getting cheaper, with the Climate Council reporting a 75% drop in price over the past five years.

With the global market for solar panels and battery storage expected to grow ten-fold by 2020, the demand for battery systems like the ZCell should have flow-on effects on purchase prices per kWh as economies of scale kick in.

* approximate figures.

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