By Scott Laskey
In recent years, residential solar battery backups have become more popular and widespread. Today, solar power generates 1.9% of all energy nationally, and battery backups have been an important part of that growth.
This is excellent news for homeowners! As households install solar batteries in higher numbers, though, there’s still confusion about the intricacies of battery systems. After all – these aren’t DIY projects, and there are many myths surrounding solar batteries.
So, how does solar battery storage work? Here’s what you need to know.
Today, modern solar batteries (such as the Tesla Powerwall2, LG Chem, Pika Energy, and Sonnen), use lithium ion, and most are “grid-tied” systems.
While it is possible to go completely “off grid” with a battery bank for solar storage, you’d need to install numerous batteries, which becomes cost-prohibitive very quickly.
As such, modern batteries are mostly used for back-up, supplementary power when the grid goes down, or peak shaving (using power during peak demand hours when energy costs the most).
In addition to helping you save money, solar batteries also provide predictable power while benefiting the environment.
Although most homes see their solar energy production vary according to weather patterns and solar strength, homes equipped with batteries store excess energy when they produce it, allowing the home to use it when needed.
As a general rule, during the summer months solar panels will produce 4-5 times the energy they do during the winter. This means your system will overproduce (and get credits from your utility provider) during the warmer months, and under-produce in the winter. As such, installing a solar battery can help offset some of your low winter production values.
It’s not enough to just add batteries and be done with it. Instead, you’ve got to prepare your home to function as efficiently as possible. Here are the first steps to take:
To install a battery storage system on your home, you’ll need to enlist the help of a professional solar installer. This solar installer will help you do a few primary things:
How much energy do you use each day? How much energy does your system need to produce and save for adequate energy storage? While you can figure this out by checking in with an energy monitor, it’s also helpful to talk it over with a professional solar installer.
How long do you want to be able to stay off the grid without producing additional power? While most homeowners shoot for 3-5 days of autonomy, your solar installer will help you decide what’s right for you, and what size system you need to facilitate it.
Solar batteries are an exciting innovation for the solar industry, but they’re not all created equal. A good solar installer will help you research solar batteries and uncover the options that will work best for you. They’ll also be there to answer any questions you may have about the batteries in the process.
Finally, the solar installer will work with you to actually install the system and hook it up to the battery backup. If you have a pre-existing solar system, they’ll be able to add batteries and wire the entire thing to work.
Installing a residential solar battery backup is a great way to promote energy independence and reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
If you’re looking for professional assistance or a quote for a solar battery system, get in touch with us. Our solar experts have helped many homeowners on the California Central coast integrate their solar panels with a home battery, and we’re happy to do the same for you.
Scott is the founder of Sandbar Solar & Electric. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UC San Diego, Scott has an NABCEP certification, and has lectured on and taught many high-tech construction practices and solar PV technical concepts to education institutions, including Stanford University and state-recognized electrician apprenticeship programs. Scott enjoys sharing his knowledge of the evolving renewable energy space and making a difference in his community.
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