Solar batteries are a hot topic of debate in the renewable energy world. Some people swear by them, while others are concerned about whether investing in solar battery storage is worth it. So what are solar batteries, and how do they work? Let’s take a closer look.
A solar battery is an addition to your home solar system that stores excess energy generated by your solar panels. These batteries act as an energy reserve, and your home will draw energy from them before the grid when your solar panels aren’t generating enough power during overcast days and during the night.
There are many things to consider when investing in solar energy and solar batteries are no exception. To get completely informed on what you need to know about solar batteries, continue reading.
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What Is a Solar Battery?
Solar batteries are a type of battery that is designed to store energy from solar panels. Solar batteries can store excess energy from a PV solar panel system for use later, when the sun isn’t shining or when power is needed.
Solar batteries are an increasingly popular addition to standard PV solar panel systems. Why? Because they allow you to store excess energy generated during the daytime for use later – like at night or during a power outage. This means you can rely less on the grid and enjoy solar power even when the sun isn’t shining. The best solar batteries in Australia have high energy capacities that are highly efficient at transferring energy.
A solar battery is a physical box installed in your home. When installed, your solar installer will connect it to your solar PV system, ensuring that extra energy generated from the panels correctly filters into your solar batteries. In addition, they’ll ensure that your home can draw that same energy when your solar panels have less sunlight to work with.
How Do Solar Batteries Work?
Solar batteries work by storing energy from solar panels in the form of electricity. As electricity is generated from solar panels, it is stored in the batteries. When the sun isn’t shining or when more power is needed, the electricity can be drawn from the batteries and used before relying on the grid.
Solar batteries are typically made of lead-acid or lithium-ion. When solar panels produce excess electricity, it is stored in the solar battery. This stored electricity can then be used during times when the sun isn’t shining or when power is needed.
Solar batteries function similarly to a power bank you would have for a mobile device. When connected, your home can request power from the battery to save you spending money on power from the grid. Unlike a traditional power bank, a solar battery will pay for itself over time by helping you spend less money on drawing energy from the grid.
What Are the Different Types of Solar Batteries?
There are three main types of solar batteries: lead-acid, lithium-ion, and flow batteries, with lead-acid batteries being the most common type. The main difference between different types of solar batteries is the chemical used to store the electricity, which affects the battery’s capacity, weight, and price.
Lead-Acid Batteries – Lead-acid batteries are the most common type of solar battery. They are typically cheaper than other types of batteries but have a shorter lifespan and are heavier.
Lithium-ion Batteries – Lithium-ion batteries are newer than lead-acid batteries and are becoming more popular due to their longer lifespan and lighter weight. Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive than lead-acid batteries, but they may be worth the investment if you use your solar panel system for a long time.
Flow Batteries – Flow batteries are a new, innovative type of solar battery that uses a liquid solution of zinc-bromide to run. Although this technology is still in its infancy, it’s gaining a lot of traction as a potentially massive change to the solar industry. Flow batteries are being pioneered by the Australian-based company Redflow.
How Much Do Solar Batteries Cost?
Solar batteries cost between $4,500 for a 3kWh battery and over $18,000 for an 18kWh battery. However, the exact price for a solar battery depends on the type of battery and the capacity. The cost of solar batteries has fallen in recent years, making them more affordable for homeowners.
Solar batteries are a great investment because they can save you money on your energy bills over time. They also offer the added benefit of providing backup power in case of an outage. If you’re considering adding solar batteries to your PV solar panel system, be sure to talk to a professional solar installer to find the right option for you.
How Do I Choose a Solar Battery?
The key factors to consider when choosing a solar battery are capacity, price, lifespan, brand, warranties and efficiency. These factors will greatly affect which solar battery you get, how long it lasts and how many of them you need.
Capacity – Solar batteries vary in capacity, which is the amount of electricity they can store. The larger the capacity, the more expensive the battery will be. You’ll need to decide how much capacity you need based on how much solar power you generate and how much you want to be able to store.
Price – Solar batteries vary in price depending on their capacity, chemical, brand and warranty. Spending more on a solar battery will usually get you a better warranty, higher capacity, or longer lifespan.
Lifespan – The lifespan of a solar battery is the length of time it can be used before it needs to be replaced. Solar batteries typically have a lifespan of 5-10 years, depending on the type of battery. Knowing how long a solar battery lasts will play a significant role in choosing a specific model.
Brand – There are many different brands of solar batteries available. Different brands will offer different warranty lengths and unique models. Some brands have more name recognition which often correlates to higher quality.
Warranties – Solar batteries usually come with a warranty that covers the battery for a certain amount of time. The warranty length varies by brand and type of solar battery, often ranging from 5 to 10 years.
Efficiency – The efficiency of a solar battery is the percentage of electricity from the solar panels that is stored in the battery. Solar batteries typically have an efficiency of 50-80%. More efficient solar batteries will cost more, but they will waste less solar power.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Solar Batteries?
There are many things to consider when deciding whether or not to add solar batteries to your solar panel system. Here are some pros and cons of solar batteries to keep in mind when deciding if a solar battery is for you.
Pros of Solar Battery Storage
The main advantages of solar batteries are:
- The amount of money you can save on your energy bills by storing excess electricity for later use.
- Reducing your reliance on the grid, providing you with a backup power source during an outage.
- Environmental sustainability as solar batteries are environmentally friendly and have no emissions.
- Financial incentives, with many states in Australia having incentives and rebates for having solar batteries installed.
Cons of Solar Battery Storage
The cons of solar batteries include:
- Price being a barrier of entry, as solar batteries can be expensive, with the cost of a typical solar battery system ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.
- General upkeep as batteries require maintenance and need to be replaced eventually
- The size of your home because solar batteries can take up a lot of space, making them impractical for some homes.
Is It Worth Getting a Solar Battery?
A solar battery may be a good addition to your home depending on your solar system, the model you choose, any local or state government incentives provided and your local climate. Speak to a local solar expert to find out if a solar battery is right for you.
As of 2023, the biggest factor affecting whether solar batteries are worth it is their price. Although the price for solar batteries has been going down, and is expected to continue to go down, they are still relatively expensive. The further down the prices go, the more viable they are.
However as it stands, whether a solar battery is worth it depends on your situation, including energy usage and how you plan to recoup your solar investment.
What Happens When Solar Batteries Are Full?
When solar batteries are full, the excess electricity is typically sent back to the grid. This process, known as “net metering,” can help you save money on your bills. If you have excess electricity, you may also be able to sell it back to your utility company, helping you offset the cost of your solar battery system.
Can I Install a Solar Battery Myself?
It’s essential that you have your solar battery professionally installed. Solar batteries must be installed correctly in order to work properly and avoid damage. Incorrect installation can void the warranty on your solar battery system and damage your PV system.
This article is published in good faith and for general informational purposes only. JFK Electrical does not make any warranties about the ongoing completeness and reliability of this information. Always seek personalised advice on solar energy to ensure any recommendations suit your property and scenario.
John Lyons, the owner of JFK Electrical Solar & Air, started his career in the electrical industry in 1997. With years of experience gained in the industry across multiple continents, he relocated to Australia and decided to specialise in solar and air conditioning. After deciding he wanted to be closer to his family, John began his own local electrical business in Mandurah, using his extensive knowledge and training in the industry. At JFK, John’s number one goal is to provide tailored solutions to his customers. And thanks to his experience and commitment to his customers, JFK Electrical is now one of the most trusted local businesses in Mandurah for solar and electrical services.