Do I Need a Solar Battery for My Home?

December 31 2020

Large silver solar battery mounted to the brick wall of a house

Not every homeowner chooses to invest in a solar battery when they switch to solar. However, this option is becoming more popular. Whether or not you decide to purchase solar batteries for home use depends entirely on your unique situation.

A solar battery provides backup power in times of low energy production. It allows homeowners to circumvent the utility company and gives them complete control over their energy usage. While this may sound great, it’s important to keep in mind that batteries for solar panels are still in the minority. This option isn’t for everyone.

Learn more about solar batteries for home. Find out if a solar plus storage system is a good fit for you.

What is a Solar Battery?

A solar battery is an energy storage option for homeowners with solar panels. Essentially, it is just a giant rechargeable battery. When your solar panels produce excess energy, this energy charges the battery, storing it for later use. Here’s how batteries for solar panels work:

Let’s say yesterday was a very sunny day. However, you were outside all day enjoying the weather. Because of that, you didn’t use much electricity in your home, but your panels produced a bunch. Luckily, your battery was storing solar energy throughout the day. With a solar battery backup, this energy is saved for later use.

Now let’s say today is not sunny at all. In fact, it is very cloudy and your panels are underproducing. Luckily, the energy stored in your solar battery can help make up for that.

This setup is known as “solar plus storage”. The system is responsible both for producing and storing solar energy.

In contrast, a traditional solar panel setup is connected to the utility grid. In this system, when the panels overproduce, they feed energy into the grid. When they underproduce, your home borrows electricity from the grid. The utility is responsible for storing solar energy and allocating it back to homeowners when needed.

Homeowners who use this traditional system of storing solar energy will receive a bill from the utility at the end of the month. The energy fed into the grid is shown as a credit and energy pulled from the grid is shown as a charge. Ideally, the two cancel each other out, depending on solar system size and efficiency. This setup is known as net-metering. Learn more about net-metering here.

Pros and Cons of Solar Power Storage

Many homeowners are interested in batteries for solar panels simply because they can allow them to go “off-grid”. In other words, if your battery is large enough to hold a substantial amount of energy, you could potentially sever your connection to the utility grid altogether.

This is tempting because not only does it completely eliminate your electricity bill, but it means you’ll be safe from potential power outages. When a big snowstorm knocks out the whole neighborhood, you’ll be safe.

Of course, there are negative aspects to this solar power storage option too. After all, net metering is a great incentive. If your utility offers a full net metering program, you might as well take advantage of it. After all, you’re essentially receiving free solar power storage just for staying connected to the grid. In this case, buying your own solar battery and storing it yourself really isn’t going to save you any additional money. In fact, it’ll probably do the opposite. Batteries for solar panels aren’t necessarily cheap.

However, some utilities have time-of-use rates and demand charges. In these cases, your utility may not pay the full retail rate for the electricity your panels produce. If net metering programs are sub-par or nonexistent in your state, a solar battery can save you money and ensure that you’re getting the most out of your panels.

Diagram showing the process of storing solar energy with a battery

Making the Right Choice

If you’re trying to choose between solar plus storage and grid-tied systems, you should probably look into your area’s net metering options first. You can find a breakdown of the states that offer net metering policies here. To find out the details of programs in your area, you will need to contact your utility provider (whoever you get your electricity bill from).

Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of going off-grid. If you truly think you would benefit from being off-grid, solar battery backup may be the best choice. However, going off-grid requires a solar battery with a huge capacity, which can get expensive. Really think about your situation before you commit to severing the relationship between you and your utility provider.

Solar power storage is a complicated topic. Not sure what to do? A solar installer can help. Find a trustworthy installation company in your area with Greenlife Solar. Compare pricing and information on a variety of installers to get a great deal on industry-leading solar installation near you.

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