he pinnacle of success when making a large purchase is to extract the maximum value from your investment. When it comes to solar, adding batteries to your solar setup might be a perfect way to do this. With the growing demand for solar energy storage, you can now find a wide selection of batteries on sale. Read more on solar batteries below.
How do solar batteries work?
To answer this question, let’s start from the basics. The solar generation process begins with the sun shining and hitting the surface of solar panels. Photovoltaic panels, mostly installed on house roofs, are composed of solar cells, and these cells convert the light into DC (direct current). Then, an inverter transforms the DC to AC (alternating current) used by most household appliances.
But what if your panels produce more power than your house needs and can use at the moment? On a cloudless day in summer or spring when the sun shines brightly, your panels can operate very efficiently. Without a battery, your solar array will send this surplus energy back to the grid. But if you add a battery, the extra electric power produced when the sun shines abundantly will flow into the battery and charge it up. The energy the battery stores can be used by you later if needed.
What are the benefits of adding a solar battery to your solar panel system?
Let's take a closer look at what solar batteries have to offer. If your solar panel array is equipped with a solar battery setup, you can go completely off the grid and become entirely energy independent. However, most homeowners prefer their solar panel system to be grid-tied, and in this case, solar batteries can also be of great help.
First, you will always have some solar backup energy to satisfy your electricity needs. If your solar panels are connected to the grid, they may be quite useless during outages. For safety reasons, your solar system will automatically shut off, and you won’t be able to power your house unless you have a solar energy storage solution that can always be used as a source of power.
What is more, solar panel energy storage allows you to avoid peak-hour utility rates, as you will be able to use the electricity from your storage system instead of pulling it from the grid. The concept behind so-called peak shaving is quite clear. You charge your storage system whenever utility rates are the lowest, which is so during off-peak hours or with your free solar energy and discharge it to avoid paying peak prices whenever electricity rates are the highest, as simple as that.
Factors to consider when choosing storage for your solar panel setup
It is worth pointing out some criteria to look for when choosing a solarbattery:
- Battery lifespan
- Power capacity
- Depth of discharge (DoD)
The lifespan of a solar batery is less than that of a solar panel and varies between 5 and 15 years. The type of battery, weather conditions and maintenance are all factors that impact their longevity.
Most solar manufacturers provide a 10-year warranty for batteries, but sometimes, their warranty covers a certain number of cycles. For instance, 10,000 cycles can be the end of the warranty term.
The power capacity of soler batteries can range from less than 100 to more than 1,000 Ah (amp-hours). Usually, you can have multiple battery packs to increase capacity if necessary.
The depth of discharge (DoD) measures the degree to which a battery can be used. For example, a 94% DoD means you can use up to 94% of its total capacity before the battery must be charged.
What are the major types of solar batteries?
Solar batteries primarily come in two types: lithium-ion or lead-acid. Lithium-ion bataries are the go-to choice for most modern solar systems. A lithium-ion battery charges and discharges by moving lithium ions between two electrodes with opposite polarity, called the cathode and the anode, through an electrolyte.
The second common type of battery, lead-acid, was the first-ever rechargeable battery discovered. This batter uses lead peroxide and sponge lead to convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
If you are leaning towards a more affordable choice, pick the lead-acid type. However, if the reliable lifespan and higher DoD are pivotal for your decision-making process, choose the lithium-ion type. Also, the lithium-ion type can be cheaper in the long run, although it is a steeper investment upfront since lead-acid solar batteries usually require regular maintenance to keep them running properly.
Secondly, baterries can be of AC or DC type. While most household appliances run on AC, batteries need DC to charge. A DC battery uses the same inverter your solar panel system has to transform its stored DC power into AC, whereas an AC battary has its own inverter allowing direct conversion of the stored DC power into AC. Currently, an AC type is much more common, and its biggest plus is that it can be paired with any solar panel setup and any inverter, including microinverters.
Discover your solar savings potential with a solar battery
Since you’re reading this article, you may have some “money” questions about solar energy storage. We've touched on the fact that sollar battiers cost significantly upfront but can ultimately lower your energy bills by avoiding peak electricity charges. Now, let's expand on that.
The price of a storage solution for your solar panels ranges from $200 to $15,000. On average, solar storage saves you around $1,000 per year. If you live in a location where energy storage incentives are available, your payback could be as short as five years. In fact, using net metering and being paid for the surplus power your solor panels produce may make more sense from a financial standpoint.
So ultimately, before investing in a storage solution, it's essential to consider your electricity use patterns, electricity prices, and grid stability in your location to decide if the expense is justified.