Solar Batteries - Do You Need Them?
Batteries are essentially the missing link in the solar industry. They can solve the storage problem that solar power is currently confronted with, and allow people to go off grid on a budget. By any stretch of imagination these are an off-gridder's dream come true! While solar power and battery backup are no doubt a match made in heaven, their implementation is a little tricky.
Solar Power - Batteries Are Not Included
In theory, you can pair a simple lead-acid battery with your solar power system, and store excess energy for later use. However, one of the bigger draws for getting a solar power system is net-metering, which allows owners to sell off excess electricity they produce to the grid.
The difference between the power your home consumes from the utility and the energy your solar system produces and sends back to the utility is what brings down your monthly bill, allowing you, the homeowner, to make a quicker return on their solar investment.
Putting a battery in this equation is not advantageous from a financial perspective, and this is why most homeowners prefer to purchase solar power systems without any battery backup. Not to mention, a solar battery isn't exactly cheap; in fact you will need to make a sizeable investment to get enough units in place to make it worthwhile.
However, a solar panel battery can be very useful for off-grid, remote locations, or places where grid reliability is poor and blackouts are common.
Types of Solar Batteries
Currently, there are three solar power battery chemistries available:
Deep-Cycle Flooded Lead Acid (FLA) batteries: These batteries come with thicker active plates which are fully immersed in electrolytes. FLA batteries are cheaper and offer superior performance, longer life and are easy to maintain.
Deep-Cycle Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries: These batteries do not require water, and use newer Absorbed Glass Matt (AGM) or gel technology. A VRLA battery can be installed in any position desired, are virtually maintenance free, and have a high rate capacity.
Lithium-Ion (Li-On) batteries: These are the latest development in the world of solar batteries, and what everyone is looking at with great interest! Lithium-Ion refers to a variety of different battery chemistries, with each type better suited to a particular application. These batteries have been very successfully utilized in mobile applications, and are now being implemented on larger scales as well.
A Li-On battery is quite similar to a lead-acid battery in makeup. In a lead-acid battery, the electrodes are made of lead along with a few other elements, while sulfuric acid is used as electrolyte. Li-On batteries come with carbon or graphite electrodes, and use lithium salts in an organic solvent as electrolyte.
A Li-On battery is smaller, lasts longer, has higher energy density, and comes with longer cycle-life than a lead acid battery. The electric car company Tesla has already used Li-On batteries very successfully in their electric vehicles, and are gearing up to bring these to homeowners in the shape of their recently announced product - Powerwall, which will come in 7 kWh and 10 kWh versions. Other companies are working on their own versions of stationary Li-On solar batteries too.
Once mass production of Li-On batteries begins, it is predicted that the cost of solar battery will fall low enough to make it look like a viable financial investment.
Should you buy a solar battery?
This depends entirely upon your requirements. If you live in an area where grid reliability is poor, then you should consider purchasing a solar power battery as a reliable backup power. On the other hand, if you intend to utilize net-metering to sell your solar power system's excess electricity, then it will be better wait it out until solar battery prices come down.
The best way you can find out about solar options is to talk to one of our solar consultants. Verengo Solar has a lot of experience in helping homeowners get the perfect solar power system, and we will be glad to help you as well! Start by getting a free solar quote; it will help you understand how much you can save by going solar.
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What Can You Save With Solar?
With no end in sight for soaring electricity rates, your switch to solar will secure affordable power for your home & family for years to come.