The Lifetime Battery: Nickel Iron Batteries for Homesteads and Farms (PVP002)

In this episode of the Permaculture Voices Podcast I am happy to welcome Brandon Williams from Iron Edison battery company on the show to talk about long lived nickel-iron batteries why they are so much better than the more common lead acid batteries for off grid home power applications.  These types of batteries are applicable to preppers, the average home owner, and permies who have remote homesteads or need mobile power sources.

There are a number of great permaculture and inspirational takeaways from this episode.  The first came out of the podcast discussion itself.  The fact that Thomas Edison, an extremely gifted, talented, and highly successful inventor tried over 10,000 experiments without success, but he kept trying and eventually achieve the results that he was looking for.  

How many of us would try something over 10,000 times and still stick with it? 

Not many I bet, myself included. 

That just goes to show you that if you want something and believe it in, then the results can be achieved through continuous, unadulterated dedication.  This is so important to permaculture, because sometimes the conditions are stacked against you, be it weather, local government, soil conditions, or availability of help.  This disadvantages can put huge odds against you while you try to build a resilient system.  But ultimately a commitment to a well thought out permaculture design can ultimately defy the odds and flourish.  These examples have been shown time and time again in the short history of permaculture, most notably by Geoff Lawton in the Greening the Desert films.   I just goes to show that if you want it, and believe it, then you can make it happen if you just stick with it.

The second great permaculture takeaway is the quote that I started the podcast out with.  “Between the actual and ideal there is always room for development.”  Edison Storage Battery Company, 1924.  The quote says it all.   There is always a better way.  And like Bill Mollison said the only limits are the ones in our head.  Almost everything can be improved in some way, we just haven’t thought of it yet.  So keep pushing the limits with your permaculture designs and create better and more resilient systems all around you.

That quote continues with “Keeping the ideal before him, he will find it intensely interesting to read and observe the different theories advanced and the difficulties that have been overcome in the efforts to reach the ideal.”  When we look back in 50 years I think we (and people) will be amazed at what we have accomplished.   They will say how did you do that?  The odds were stacked against you.  And we will say we did it with a lot of intelligent hard work, dedication, and a belief that permaculture would change the world.  So keep up the great work.

In this episode you will learn about:

  • How batteries fit into permaculture design.
  • The history of nickel-iron batteries.
  • The science behind nickel-iron batteries.
  • General maintenance for battery systems.
  • Advantages of nickel-iron over lead acid batteries – long lived, less toxic, wider temperature range of operation, greater depth of discharge.
  • Return on investment of nickel-iron vs. lead acid batteries.
  • How the average suburban household can benefit from a battery backup system.
  • Solar panel and battery system integration.
  • Mobile power applications.
  • The difference between mobile batteries and stationary batteries.
  • Different options for charging the batteries.


Iron Edison vs Lead Acid

More information on Iron Edison’s nickel iron batteries:

Iron Edison Brochure

Examples of Systems using Iron Edison Batteries

A whole bunch more info.

Some interesting historical documents on the original Edison batteries if you want to get all down and nerdy:

Tour of the original Edison Battery Factory – 1924.  (This is what I read from in the podcast)

The future of nickel-iron batteries:

Stanford scientists develop ultrafast nickel-iron battery .

Companies mentioned in this podcast include:

Brandon William’s Iron Edison battery company.

Support Permaculture Voices

You can support Permaculture Voices through a one time or reoccurring donation at

[ois skin=”Homepage”]

Did you get some value out of this post? If so, then please take a second to support Diego on Patreon!

Comments 4

  1. Pingback: Permaculture Voices Podcast 002: Batteries for homesteads and mobile power. | Permaculture Central

  2. Does Iron Edison produce these batteries themselves, import them from China with Chinese engineering or import them from China, engineered to Iron Edison specifications?

    1. Post
  3. Another battery for off-grid to check out that is better than lead acid is the new Aquion Energy company’s battery. Made in USA. Looks like a vast improvement in cost per KWH in the long term over lead acid due to the long life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *