To understand how batteries fit into the overall solar system, it might be helpful if you understand how a solar power system works. Solar panels on your roof take direct sunlight and turn it into DC (Direct Current) electricity. Then they hand off this DC electricity to an inverter which converts it to AC (Alternating Current) electricity which your home can use.
Solar systems that are designed correctly, will produce more electricity than the home can use during the daytime. When a system creates more electricity than you need, it can either send the extra electricity back into the grid or it can send it to a battery bank that you own. If it sends it back to the grid (and you can take advantage of net metering
), you get to use that electricity at a later time - such as during the night when your solar panels are not producing electricity.
Solar panels are an outstanding option for producing electricity that you use in the home. Solar batteries allow you to store the extra electricity you produce during the daytime to be used at night or during extended low sunlight days. When a solar system on a house includes battery storage, that solar system is commonly referred to as a ”hybrid solar system,” There are a number of advantages to having a hybrid solar system. The two most common are:
1. You can store the electricity your solar panels have produced for later use.
2. Batteries can provide you with independence from the power company during any electrical grid outages or other grid problems.
The big question is, “Are solar batteries necessary, and how do they work?” An equally big question is, how much do solar batteries cost
? This is exactly what we are going to cover in this article.
ON THIS PAGE
• You can store the electricity your solar panels have produced for later use.
• Batteries can provide you with independence from the power company during any electrical grid outages or other grid problems.
• Solar Batteries - How Do They Work With My Solar Panels?
• Costs of Solar Batteries - What Affects The Cost?
• How to Reduce The Cost of Battery Backup?
Because solar panels only work when the sun is shining, they can't provide any electricity during the night. They also might not provide sufficient electricity during extended periods of heavy cloud cover.
It might surprise you that they are not allowed to produce any electricity when there is a blackout. Adding solar batteries to your solar panel configuration provides a way to produce extra electricity for use during these power outages.
Solar panels on your roof convert the majority of the electricity in the middle of the day. Unfortunately, that coincides with the time many homes have their lowest demand for electricity. For solar systems without a battery backup, the traditional method of storing the extra electricity is to send it back into the utility grid. Your smart meter on your house keeps track of the amount that you send back and with net metering, you will get credit for that electricity.
You will be able to use it at a later date by drawing it back from the utility or alternatively, the utility will credit your monthly bill for the amount that they receive. Essentially, the power company's grid acts as a huge battery where you can store your excess electricity. Of course, this kind of storage is not available when the grid goes down during an electricity outage.
If you have battery backup paired with your solar system, the extra electricity that you produce will be deposited into the battery bank instead of being sent back to the grid. When the sun is not shining on your panels, for instance at night time, solar panels won't produce any more electricity. This is the time that you can draw the electricity you have stored in your battery instead of getting that electricity from the utility.
WILL SOLAR BATTERIES LET ME HAVE ELECTRICITY DURING A BLACKOUT?
Everybody in the United States remembers the disastrous widespread blackouts in Texas in early 2021
. Projections for blackouts are not encouraging. In some areas of the country, the grid is expected to have great difficulty in the not-to-distant future. A solar panel system paired with a whole-house backup battery bank can be the solution to having power during a widespread outage. There are two considerations when discussing having power during a blackout when you have solar panels on your roof.The first consideration is that most solar panel systems automatically disconnect from the grid when there is a power outage.
It’s a requirement in all states. The reason for this is so that utility line workers working on repairs expect the grid to be without power. If your solar panels are charging the grid, the workers may be injured or killed by the electricity from your panels.
There is a workaround that allows you to use your home-grown electricity during a power outage and not endanger power utility workers. You can have a special switch installed on your solar system that disconnects your system in the event of an outage.The second consideration is that you need sufficient battery backup to store all of the electricity you would need to use when the sun is not shining.
Typical solar panel systems draw electricity from the utility grid but if the grid is down that's not possible. If it is your goal to be entirely energy-independent and be able to operate “off-grid”, you will need sufficient capacity in a battery backup
To find out just how much battery capacity you need, you can ask your solar provider to do an energy audit on your home. When sizing your backup battery capacity, you may want to consider what electrical appliances and systems are essential. Batteries are expensive.
WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE GET SOLAR BATTERIES?
If batteries were free, everyone would load up on solar battery capacity - but batteries are expensive. While there are several different battery technologies for solar backup, the most commonly used in residential systems are lithium-ion batteries.
Battery technology has advanced significantly in the last few years, but in 2021, the cost of battery storage can add between a few hundred dollars up to $15,000 - depending on the type and amount of battery storage. For example, according to Forbes the cost of Tesla Powerwall
is around $6,500 and a Costco battery may not be as nice but could cost less.
Fortunately, solar batteries are considered part of the solar panel system by the federal government and are eligible for the federal solar tax credit of 26%
. Additionally, many states have tax incentives programs that promote battery storage on solar panel systems to help take away the sting of buying batteries.
SHOULD YOU INVEST IN SOLAR STORAGE
When deciding what kind of storage option you should get for your solar system, these are some of the questions to ask:COSTS
: Pricing for the battery bank storage system for storing excess solar-generated electricity.
A price and configuration proposal for a residential solar system includes a variety of factors. The most important is how much electricity your home needs. Also considered is the size of your home, the available roof space, the orientation of your roof, how many hours of direct sunlight, and how many solar panels you should install.
Solar systems pricing varies across the United States and can range between $10,000 to $70,000. The overall cost would depend on the size of the system, the battery backup storage and the tax credits for which your home qualifies.FINANCING
: What are my solar financing options?
There are a variety of federal and state programs to give homeowners a hand in going solar. The biggest tax rebate is the federal rebate Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which in 2021 is set at 26% of the cost of your system. Fortunately, this 26% can be applied to battery storage as well as the solar panels.
You may also be eligible for PACE financing
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a program that is designed to help homeowners pay for energy-efficient upgrades, renewable energy (Solar), conserve water, and protect against storms
According to www.energy.gov
“The property assessed clean energy (PACE) model is an innovative mechanism for financing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements on private property.” There are several agents who can provide you with assistance with PACE (such as https://ygrene.com
)QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER ABOUT STORAGE BATTERIESMAINTENANCE
: What kind of maintenance will my batteries need and how much will that cost? LONGEVITY
: What is the expected lifetime of the batteries and what warranties come with them?ELECTRICITY SAVINGS
: How much will I save on electricity because I can store my own excess power?EMERGENCY PERFORMANCE
: In case of a widespread outage, how well will my battery capacity power my home over a long period?CONCLUSION: BATTERY BANK STORAGE FOR SOLAR PANELS
Solar panels have become very popular especially with their prices dropping. They provide security during widespread power outages. When getting a price for a solar system for your home, consider the secondary systems that you might want to have in order to reach your electricity and security goals.
In the case of a solar system with a robust battery backup bank, ask yourself if the peace of mind knowing you will have electricity during a lengthy widespread power outage is worth the cost.
If you want to see if your home qualifies for solar panels with backup batteries included take our free quiz here!