What is a solar battery?
A home solar battery is the missing link of renewable energy. It is literally going to change everything you know about energy management. Although both solar power and batteries have been around over 100 years, only recently has technology and price converged to combine them into a single system that empowers homeowners to generate, store, and use their own electricity.
The term ‘solar battery’ is nearly synonymous with ‘energy storage’ and ‘home battery’. They are all referring to the same thing; batteries large enough to power a home. However, ‘solar battery’ implies a battery connected to a solar system. Although solar is not required to take advantage of a battery’s many benefits, it does add a significant financial gain – charge your battery with free electricity from the sun.
The problem with solar power alone.
There is one inherent problem with solar power – it is instantaneous. The very moment it is generated, it is gone. You have an instant to either put it to work or it will find the path of least resistance off your property. This causes two problems for homeowners:
- The solar homeowner only has access to free electricity when the sun is shining.
- The solar homeowner has no control over what time they export energy to the grid
Definition: Solar Home Battery
A chemical battery (typically lithium ion, such as the one you would find in a phone battery) that collects energy generated from a photovoltaic (solar power) system. Size: a standard home solar battery is the size of a laundry basket or mid-sized LED television. Noise: minimal, small internal cooling fan running as needed. Weight: generally between 100 and 300lbs, depending on battery capacity and components. Longevity: standard battery warranty is 20 years.
Why is it a problem to have free electricity when the sun is shining?
Because you use most of your electricity at night. You are at the mercy of your utility to buy your excess electricity during the day in return for credits that can be used at night. But what if you don’t want to sell your electricity? What if you simply want to generate and use your own electricity without involving the utility? The solar home battery.
Solar batteries aren’t just a luxury, they are a reality.
Have you gone solar in the last year, or plan to go solar in the future? Your utility has changed the rules. Under Net Metering 1.0, homeowners could sell their excess solar power back to the utility for a credit to be used at night. The end result was a roughly zeroed-out bill. That ended with Net Metering 2.0. Anyone who went solar from mid-2016 onwards is on Net Metering 2.0. All Net Metering 2.0 customers will soon be on a new billing system called Time-of-Use, or TOU. Under this new arrangement, the electricity you sell back to the grid during the day can only be partially used to offset your electrical usage at night, unless you own a solar battery.
How do solar batteries solve the TOU problem?
The simple answer is; solar batteries allow you to release your excess solar energy to the grid when credits are at the highest value. If you sell your excess solar back to the utility during the day, you won’t have enough credits to power your home in the evening. But sell your excess solar back to the grid in the evening and you will. The solar and battery system will do this automatically.
Or eliminate the utility entirely.
Every solar homeowner has fantasized about cutting out the utility altogether. With a solar battery, this can be done. Instead of storing your solar power to sell back to the utility, just keep it for yourself instead. Use your solar battery in the evening; use your solar system during the day. Stay connected to the grid only for emergency purposes. This system of solar+battery use is called Self-Consumption. It differs from Off-Grid in that you stay connected to the grid and might occasionally buy electricity from the grid, where Off-Grid implies there is no connection to the grid, the homeowner is an island.
Reasons for a Home Solar Battery
- Self-consumption: Want to run your house on solar power both day and night? Home solar batteries enable that. Instead of exporting your excess electricity to the grid, store it in your home battery and use it at night. Whatever you don’t consume gets sent to the utility for further savings. And you remain connected to the grid in case you need a little extra juice.
- Backup power: If the grid goes down, so does the safety and comfort of your family. Think your solar panels will keep you powered? Think again. Most solar systems turn off when the grid goes down. But solar batteries leverage the power of your solar system giving you anywhere from several hours to several days of backup power.
- Time-of-Use: If you went solar after mid-2016, or plan to go solar in the future, you are in for a big surprise. SDG&E has changed the rules. Soon, they will give solar homeowners less credit for the surplus electricity they put back on the grid during the day. With a solar battery, you control the time of day to export your power, protecting your solar investment.
- Off the grid: Rural or just want true energy independence? Say goodbye to your utility forever with an off-grid system. Generate and store electricity completely shielded from the outside world. Building a home? An off-grid system might be cheaper than connecting to the utility.