Review: Crown CR-430 Flooded Lead-Acid Battery
The Crown CR-430 is our go-to battery pick for cost-effective solar energy storage. If you’re willing to perform routine maintenance on your battery bank, these flooded lead-acid batteries provide a low-cost entry point to solar storage.
Crown is our best-selling battery brand, accounting for more than 45% of all battery sales here at Unbound Solar. In this Crown battery review, we’re going to look at what makes their flooded lead-acid line such an appealing option—especially for off-grid homes where the battery bank will see heavy daily usage.
Specifically, we’ll take a look at specs, pricing, and pros & cons of the Crown CR-430. This 6V / 430 amp-hour battery is the ideal voltage to pair with a wide range of ‘typical’ solar installations, like an off-grid family residence.
If you need a different size battery, take a look at Crown’s line of batteries in our shop. Most of the info in this article broadly applies to the entire line of Crown flooded lead-acid batteries. Your best choice will be the battery that is properly sized for your system.
Crown CR-430: Price & Specs
- Model: CR-430
- Price: $332 (as of 1/2/20)
- Dimensions: 12.38 × 7.19 × 15.29 inches
- Weight: 122 lbs.
- Nominal voltage: 6V
- Cycling capacity @ 20 hour rate: 430 amp-hours
- Projected cycle life at 50% depth of discharge: ~1200 cycles
Pros of the Crown CR-430 Battery
Lowest Up-Front Cost
For a lot of people, budget is the most important factor in the decision-making process. The main appeal of the CR-430 is its low price point. It’s the most cost-effective way to get into battery-based solar.
For $332 (at the time of publication), the CR-430 offers an estimated cycle life of 1200 cycles at 50% depth of discharge. A comparable sealed battery would be the Fullriver DC400-6, with a price tag of $583 and an estimated cycle life of 1250 cycles.
The upgrade to sealed batteries removes the need for regular maintenance (which we’ll cover later in this article), so they’re much more convenient to own. But in terms of cost-per-cycle, you’ll get way more mileage out of the Crown CR-430. See the chart below for a side-by-side comparison.
Tried and True Technology
Flooded lead-acid batteries have been around since 1859. It’s the oldest type of rechargeable battery on the market.
With 160 years of history, refinement and advancement of the technology, flooded batteries are very much a known quantity. The chemistry is stable and safe, and there’s no mystery to how long they should last or how to take care of them.
Other types of batteries have less history behind them. Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries were introduced in the 1970s and the industry is still testing specific chemistries and refining their product offerings.
There’s not as much of a track record with these technologies and we don’t necessarily know whether they will live up to their promises. The very well could, but we don’t have as much data about stability and failure rates on these batteries.
Flooded lead-acid batteries are a mainstay of the deep cycle battery market. If you go with the Crown CR-430, you won’t run into any surprises or kinks with untested technology.
Crown Battery is one of the most established players in the flooded battery industry. They’ve been making batteries since 1926 and continue to be a prominent name in the market.
We’ve been working with them for quite a while and they have a good track record for consistency and responsiveness. They’re quick to respond to support calls, and they work with us on trainings and webinars to make sure the product is well-supported.
It’s reassuring to know they’re accessible in case any issues arise and proactive with their education efforts to reduce failure rates.
Lastly, Crown was founded in Fremont, Ohio, where their corporate and manufacturing facilities are located. It’s always nice to support American manufacturing and job creation efforts when the opportunity is there, and Crown is a company worthy of that support.
Cons of the Crown CR-430 Battery
The tradeoffs for flooded lead-acid batteries are pretty simple: they cost less, but you have to commit to routine maintenance to keep them working.
Every month or so, the batteries need to be refilled with distilled water which evaporates during the charging process. They also require periodic equalization charges, which is essentially a controlled overcharge to help the batteries stay healthy.
It only takes a couple of minutes, but you still have to commit to the maintenance on a regular schedule or else the batteries will be damaged prematurely. It’s a simple task, but there are drastic consequences if you skip it.
If you’d rather not be burdened by this responsibility, we’d recommend a sealed lead-acid or lithium battery, neither of which require you to commit to upkeep. In our review of the Fullriver DC400-6, we called this a “convenience upgrade.” You pay a bit more so you don’t have to worry about checking in on your battery bank.
Can’t Install Inside
Another reality of flooded lead-acid batteries is that they emit gases during operation. As a result, there are some restrictions on where you can install them. They need to be built according to local codes, in a well-ventilated enclosure, away from flammable materials and other hazards.
Due to the off-gassing, you likely want to build your battery bank in a shed or garage, or put it outdoors in a ventilated battery enclosure. In contrast, sealed lead-acid and lithium batteries do not off-gas, which means they can be safely installed inside your home.
This can also make flooded batteries more costly to install. Though the batteries themselves are cheaper, there can be extra costs associated with building a new enclosure for the battery bank, which should be taken into account when evaluating the true cost of ownership.
Ideal Application for the Crown CR-430
It’s pretty easy to understand why the Crown CR-430 has been one of our best-selling batteries for years. It doesn’t cost a lot up front, and the cycle life stacks up against much more expensive batteries so long as you commit to a few minutes of maintenance on a monthly basis.
Since flooded batteries require regular care, the ideal use case is off-grid properties that are occupied full-time. Flooded batteries self-discharge quickly and need to be recharged after every cycle, so it makes the most sense to build them in an application where they will be cycled on a daily basis.
Due to these restrictions, we don’t recommend using flooded batteries for vacation homes, industrial worksites, or other applications where people won’t be around to use the batteries on a daily basis or commit to their upkeep. Sealed batteries are better in those situations because you don’t need regular check-ins to keep them working.
Need more help with battery bank sizing, or just want some advice on finding the right battery for your project? Connect with us for a free consultation or grab a copy of our free solar battery guide linked below.