What Does “Nominal Voltage” of a Battery Mean?

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The nominal voltage of a battery is the number of volts assigned to any particular battery. For example, a battery will typically be called something like a 6-volt battery, a 12-volt battery, a 24-volt battery, etc.

Nominal is simply a number used to conveniently assign the rating of a piece of equipment (like a 12-volt battery) to help match it up with other pieces of equipment (like a 12-volt solar panel, 12-volt charge controller, and a 12-volt appliance).

But did you know that most batteries actually have a voltage that’s slightly higher or lower than what you see on its label? For example, a 12-volt nominal battery could have an actual operating voltage of 12.9-volts or maybe 11.5 volts.

Manufacturers produce batteries with the nominal voltage on the label because making batteries that have an exact number of volts is amazingly difficult. Even batteries coming from the same production line can fluctuate in voltages.

Similarly, a 12-volt nominal solar panel might have an actual operating voltage of 17-volts or 13-volts.

The actual operating voltage of the equipment found in a solar power system could be widely different from the nominal rating. Again, the nominal voltage is just to help us match the equipment that will play nicely together.