Solar energy storage is awesome. You’ll save money, the environment and you’ll become more energy independent.
You probably have a solar PV system on your roof but now you’re ready to take it to the next level. You’ve made up your mind, “I’m going to buy a solar battery system”.
A quick Google search or two later and it hits you: “Where the hell do I start?”
Let us explain.
(Note: Did we miss your burning question? Leave it in the comments section and we’ll update the guide.)
Solar energy storage works by storing the excess electricity your solar system generates during the day so you can use it at night.
Your rooftop solar system needs sunlight in order to generate electricity. But if you’re like most households, the majority of your power consumption is in the evening. So if you’re not home during the day you will only use a fraction of the power you generate.
The excess power you generate will be exported to the grid in exchange for a fee, known as a feed-in tariff. Households would then use energy from the grid at night and pay for this separately.
However, solar batteries give you control over the power your solar panels generate. Simply put, your batteries are charged during the day by your solar panels and then you can use this power at night.
While we are familiar with batteries that go into our phones and laptops, solar storage systems for your home are somewhat different. There are many components involved and there a number of different types of batteries you can install.
There a few key components involved in every battery storage system. The components and connection methods vary depending on the type of system you are using (more on this later). The main components of your system will be:
The way your battery is connected to your solar panels is dependent on your existing solar system and the benefits you’re hoping to achieve. There are three main ways for connecting your solar battery:
There are a number of different types of batteries currently being used for home storage. They each use similar principles of using an anode and cathode to move electrons, but they are each based on different chemistries. Generally, solar batteries fall into one of these three categories:
(Note: we will mention something called cycle life throughout this guide. Cycle life is “ how many times [a battery] can undergo the process of charging and discharging until failure or until it starts to lose capacity”.)
You’re probably thinking now, what is the best battery type for solar storage?
Generally, most battery storage systems available on the market today are based on lithium-ion technology. This is expected to continue into the future with increasing R&D being conducted on this type of battery.
Specific solar batteries are covered a little later in this post.
Now that you have a better understanding of how solar batteries work we can start to narrow down on the perfect battery for your home. When deciding on the right battery you will first need to consider what you are trying to achieve with your system, how much it costs, its return on investment (ROI) and whether your solar system is “battery ready”.
Like any major purchase, you make you should first think about why you’re doing this. No solar energy battery is exactly the same, and the benefits you get from each vary depending on which one you buy. For example, some batteries will have a better ROI than others and will, therefore, reduce your total electrical bill more.
We have discussed the 7 reasons why you should install solar batteries here. But again, they are:
Pick two or three from this list and keep them in the back of your mind. It will help you compare solar energy storage systems when it comes time to buy.
SolarQuotes has done a great job of putting together a table that will easily allow you to compare different batteries. One of the many aspects in this table is the price of each battery.
Doing some calculations on the data shows that the median price of solar batteries is $9000. This is roughly equal to $1800 per kWh of storage.
Before you go and buy the cheapest solar energy storage battery in this table there are a few things which you should first consider.
Firstly, you need to consider the cost per kWh of delivered storage. Typically, the larger the cycle life, the lower the cost per kWh it can deliver. So even if a battery is expensive, if it lasts a long time you will get better value for your money.
Rather than doing this by hand Solar Choice has an excellent tool to compare battery lifespans and value.
Secondly, you should also think about the total battery capacity you will require per day. You might save money by installing a smaller system, but if it can only provide 4kWh per day and you have a 10kWh solar system, then you’ll fail to take full advantage of the power you generate.
If the sole reason you’re installing a solar energy storage system is to save money, then I’d hold off for a couple of years. According to analysts, it won’t be until the year of 2018 until the return on investment for solar batteries will have a positive return on Investment.
However, Energia, a specialist energy market researcher, estimates that even this prediction may change quickly. In its recent study of battery storage, Energia states that it is “inevitable” that the price of solar storage will reduce, as manufacturers and installers look to fulfil increasing demand for these systems.
But if you do decide to install solar energy storage in your home (and we really hope you do), your ROI will be dependent on which electricity network you’re on, how you use your energy, the size of your solar system, the tariff you have and, of course, the battery you install.
To calculate your estimated ROI, and the number of years expected to pay back your battery, we recommend you visit this free solar storage calculator.
For example, installing a 5kWh battery storage system in Sydney, for a family of 4 consuming an average of 20kWh/day gives the following results:
However, this is only a rough guide to what you should expect when installing batteries in your home. To get a more accurate representation you should contact all your local battery storage installers for a comparison. Or you could use our free tool here.
Battery capacity is the amount of energy your battery can store. Generally, home battery storage systems are measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
Selecting the right about of solar energy storage you need depends on a number of factors, namely:
One of the most popular reasons why people install solar batteries in their home is for the environmental advantages. Solar energy storage, combined with your solar panels, means you will be less dependent on ‘dirty’ electricity from the grid.
It is well known that Australia is one of the worst countries in the developed world in terms of our electricity generation. This is easy to see when you look at the proportion of fuel sources used on a state by state basis:
However, just by installing solar batteries in your home, doesn’t mean that you’ll be saving the planet. You also need to consider the environmental effects of digging up the raw materials from the ground, transporting them to the factory and eventually to your house.
To check whether batteries lead to any environmental savings we did some quick calculations. This analysis was based on installing a Tesla Powerwall system in a 4 person home.
Over the lifetime of the system, we expect you will save approximately 24.04 tonnes of carbon dioxide (including the carbon released in manufacturing the battery). This is equivalent to taking 5.1 cars off the road or recycling 7.6 tonnes of landfill.
You can check out the full spreadsheet here. We recommend you make a copy and change the values depending on your ideal system, so you can get an estimation of the total environmental benefit to your household.
The demand for solar energy storage is skyrocketing. As a result, there are more and more batteries being released onto the market every year.
With so many products being released, it’s becoming hard for consumers to compare all their options, let alone find the right system for them. Luckily, there are a number of great places where you can find a list of solar energy storage batteries.
The first one is SolarQuote’s battery storage comparison table. This table breaks down all the specifications you will need to consider before installing, including price, battery type, the amount of storage, advantages, disadvantages, etc.
We recommend you download this table so you can sort the data and therefore find the battery system which best suits your criteria.
Another option is checking out the battery finder widget, made by Global-Roam, below. This an another great tool you can use to help you find the best solar battery.
This widget is constantly being updated so we recommend that you bookmark this article, and periodically check the new products added. That way you can always know when the latest solar energy storage technology is released.
If you’ve done any research into batteries for your existing solar system you’ve probably seen your system described as ‘plug and play’, ‘battery upgradeable’ and ‘battery ready’. You’re more than forgiven if you find this a little confusing.
So what exactly is meant by these terms?
Before you buy solar batteries for your existing system, it is important you check which type you have. If you forget to do so, you risk purchasing a battery which is incompatible with your existing solar energy system meaning you’ll have to fork out extra money.
So you’ve made the big decision – you’ve decided to purchase and install a solar energy battery. That’s great! But now what?
The whole process can be a little daunting at first – Google searches, sales calls, quotes, more sales calls, documentation and agreements and yet more sales calls!
So we’ve broken down the process and answer the most frequently asked questions we get about installing battery storage in homes.
Installing solar energy storage in your home is generally straightforward. However, this is the time that we should mention that there is no one way to do it.
With that being said, here are the steps you should expect when you decide to purchase:
You should also download our free checklist which summarises all the steps outlined above. This will make sure you don’t miss anything important in the installation process.
The short answer, it depends. If you’re organised and know exactly what you want, there’s a chance that the whole process from start to finish could only take a week. But in most cases, we say it will take approximately 3-4 weeks.
Firstly, finding and requesting quotes from installers can be quite tedious. This involves searching through Google or the Yellow Pages to find the installers in your area. Plus you will have to submit your system requirements for each company and answer their phone calls in order to receive a single quote. This may take up to 3 days to do all this. Or you could let us know your system requirements (5 minutes) and we’ll take care of the rest for free.
Additionally, it can take up to a week to check all the details of your solar energy storage system and installer. You may need to make a few phone calls to confirm the accreditation of your installer, to check whether your electricity provider will allow a solar energy battery to be grid-connected and to confirm the amount of protection your insurance company will provide.
The actual installation process of your solar energy battery will be fairly fast. Battery installations typically take a day, although your installer may require 2 days if you have a particularly complex system. Generally, the most time-consuming part of this entire process is waiting for the day in which you and the installer are free (like any tradesperson for example).
Finally, as mentioned early, you may also be required to receive an inspection of your battery system to ensure it has been properly installed. This may be up to 3-5 days after your solar battery has been installed.
As battery storage become more popular, the number of battery installers will increase. While this is great news, it does mean that finding installers in your area will become more difficult.
A quick Google search for “battery storage” gives 241,000,000 results. Of course not everyone of these results is going to be an installer but Google can be a good place to start your search.
However, we wanted to focus on three other ways which you can find a battery installer in your area: Clean Energy Council’s (CEC) installer list, the Yellow Pages and our battery installer quote request tool.
The Clean Energy Council is a not-for-profit association which aims to “develop and advocate effective policy to accelerate the development and deployment of all clean energy technologies”. On their website, they provide the details of over 4000 installers of solar panels and batteries who have gained CEC’s qualification which demonstrates that an installer is competent in designing and installing solar systems.
In order to find a battery installer in your area, the first step is to head over to their Find an installer tool. You will then need to search by ‘Installer details’ and select the ‘Storage’ under the endorsements list. Hit search and you should get a map of Australia will all the accredited installers as shown:
The next thing to do is to zoom into your city or town. For example, if you live in Sydney you would zoom into Sydney on the map.
Now, to the left of the map, you will see a list of accredited installers. If you live in Sydney, you will see 9 battery installers. These are the installers you should contact in order to request a quote for a storage system.
You might have noticed under this list a button saying ‘Download PDF’. Press this and you will get the same list of installers, the company they work for and their contact details.
All there is to do now is to call each of them and request a quote.
Remember that big yellow book you used to get every year? Turns out it still exists, and is still a great source of information when it comes to local businesses.
On the Yellow Pages website, you need to enter your location. In this example, “Sydney”. Then you’ll need to enter your search term. Try any of these variations: “Solar battery storage”, “Solar battery”, “Solar energy battery” (or anything else you can think of).
Press search and your results will show on the screen like this:
Be warned though that not all of these results will be relevant to your search. You may get all sort of variations of battery installation; for cars, pools, etc. You will have to go through this list and find the installers which specialise in solar energy storage systems.
Once you have found a battery installer just click on their listing. There you can call, email or visit their website in order to get a quote for your proposed system.
If you use the methods described above, you’ll soon realise that it becomes quite tedious. Not to mention your details will be passed onto the company’s salespeople which means that you may receive many unexpected phone calls.
However, using our free battery storage quote tool, Batterybasket, you can find out exactly how much it will cost to install in your home. All without having to worry about searching yourself or receiving any sales calls.
All you have to do is tell us about your current PV system and what you want to achieve with your battery and we’ll send you a collection of quotes for you to compare.
Click here if you want us to find the ideal solar battery for you.
Selecting the right battery installer is crucial. A good installer will be able to do the job correctly and safely. Plus, a good installer will be able to help you maintain your solar energy battery to maximise its performance and lifetime.
Once you’ve received your quotes we recommend you speak to at least 3 of these installers. Some of the questions you should ask them are:
And these are only some of the questions you should be asking!
We recommend that you download our complete (and free) checklist of everything you should ask your installer. Just click the image below to download.
Phew, you’ve made it. If you’ve been following this guide you’ve gone through the long process of understanding how solar batteries work, how to choose one, found an installer and then finally installed it in your home.
The great news is that solar energy storage is fairly low maintenance, provided that you use it properly. Also, batteries are safe to have in your home and can be properly disposed of.
When it comes to maintaining and servicing your battery system, your battery installer will be your best friend. After they’ve installed your solar battery (or even before you purchase) it’s a good idea to ask about its maintenance and service schedule. Every battery storage system has its own unique schedule.
When the installer is performing maintenance on your battery, she/he will be able to provide you detailed information on how to maximise its lifetime and performance. By doing a set of checks on the individual battery cells, they can diagnose problems with your system long before it completely fails.
Additionally, your installer will also provide you with a simple log sheet to help you monitor your system. By looking at your battery’s critical measurements, such as its voltage, you’ll be able to understand when your battery system requires a service. In fact, keeping a record of your battery’s measurements might also be a condition of its warranty. These checks may be required every 3 months.
There are actually a few different ways the lifespan of your battery can be described. You should understand these terms before picking the right battery for your home or deciding to upgrade your system:
However, total energy throughput is not as common as the other two terms. Therefore, it is more likely that your battery manufacturer will quote either cycle or warranted life in their specifications.
Additionally, just because your warranty expires, it doesn’t mean you have to immediately upgrade your system. While useable, your battery will just be able to store less energy than when bought new (similar to your phone’s battery) and will have a lower round-trip efficiency.
There are actually a number of different ways your can increase the lifetime of your battery. For instance, you should make sure you use your solar energy battery only how the manufacturer has described. Poor or heavy usage will decrease its life expectancy. In addition, you should also control the temperature of your battery. A battery which is kept in an environment which is too hot or cold will decrease in performance over the long run.
Finally, your electricity consumption will also affect your solar battery’s lifetime. Generally, increasing your electricity usage will negatively affect your solar energy storage system.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Your solar energy battery is no different.
But before you arrange for your battery to be disposed of, you should check whether it can be recycled. A good place to start is the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI), a not-for-profit organisation which promotes the safe recycling of batteries.
The ABRI, with the Clean Energy Council, has released a 4-page summary of energy storage recycling in Australia. In this report, they outline how your particular type of battery will need to be disposed of/recycled. For example, most components of a lithium-ion battery can be recycled. However, it should only be handled by a certified company.
No matter what home battery system you have, uninstalling it from your home should always be done by a professional. Most used batteries still hold a residual charge and you risk electrocution if you do not handle it carefully.
Solar batteries are completely safe to have installed in your home, provided you follow the guidelines set by the manufacturer and your installer.
With solar energy storage, the best way to avoid an incident is being proactive. This means following your maintenance logbook and reporting anything out of the ordinary to your installer.
It’s a good idea to properly indicate your batteries by adding relevant warning signs. In particular, the type of battery installed. You should also keep the area around your battery clear. Making sure that the area is free of anything flammable or electrically conductive.
Following these simple protocols will ensure that you, and your family, will be safe around your battery.
Want learn more about installing battery storage in your home? Sign up for our free 3 day crash course about battery storage