Should I Get Battery Storage?

Battery storage is a hot topic at the moment and there is no doubt that it's a potential game changer and the way of the future. But is it right for you now? What are the options to consider? What if I already have a solar system? These questions and others are answered below

How does solar with battery storage work?

There are two main types of solar storage systems - Off Grid and Hybrid.

Off Grid means you are totally reliant on your solar and batteries with no connection to the electricity grid. This usually requires a back up generator as well. Due to the expense and the needed lifestyle changes, its not usually worth it where you already are connected to the grid. It can be a good option though if the grid is not available or extremely expensive to connect to.

Hybrid systems are where you combine the grid with your solar and battery storage. This means you have all the convenience of being connected to the grid, but offset your bill by using your own power when it's available. A normal solar system will offset your bill during the day, but not at night. See - How Does A Solar System Work? and How will a solar system affect my electricity bill? A hybrid system allows you store excess solar power (power you produced but didn't use) into batteries for you to use at night instead of it going back into the grid. Some hybrid systems will also give you back up power in the case of blackouts - however this is often just for one circuit, not for all your power. It's also good to be aware that any storage system means more than just solar and batteries. All storage systems need components to monitor your production and usage, and to charge and manage the batteries.

A hybrid system is usually the best choice for battery storage if you are already connected to the grid.

Is it for me?

That depends on several factors - not least of which is your budget. At the moment, depending on the type and size you select, a hybrid solar system will cost around two to three times as much as a normal solar system. If that's within your budget then next thing to consider is - how much of my solar power would otherwise go back into the grid? If a large percentage of your solar power would go back(or is going back) to the grid, while you are paying for grid power at other times (such as at night) then a hybrid system may be an option. If you are using up most of your solar power during the day then a normal solar system (without batteries) is probably the best choice for you.

Its also good to keep in mind that if the feed in tariff (what you get paid for what you put back into the grid) is reasonable, then installing a larger system than your usage and getting paid for your excess may offset much of your night time use. To be honest, this is normally a better return on investment than buying batteries.

You may prefer to wait to see if battery prices come down in the future, in which case you may want to consider installing a battery ready system.

Can my solar system be installed battery ready?

Yes. You can install a normal solar system and add storage later. If you want to go a step further you can install a hybrid inverter instead of a normal inverter. This contains the needed battery charging/management components and so its just a matter of adding the battery later - however it does limit your battery choices. As battery technology will likely continue to change, this is probably best considered only if you are going to install batteries in the near term. If you are looking at batteries further down the track, then it's probably not worth installing a hybrid inverter now.

Another option is if you install a micro inverter solar system, as the monitoring can come ready with battery controlling for little or no extra cost - meaning it will be totally battery ready. However, micro inverters can only pair with the same brand battery. - See What about microinverters?

Many new designs in battery backup/hybrid systems are constantly finding their way on to the market, so options will likely increase as time goes on.

What if I already have a solar system?

You can add battery storage to almost any existing solar system. However if you have a smaller system (as was usual just a few years ago) then you may need to enlarge your system or add an additional system to ensure you produce enough power to charge the batteries. However, as noted above, in most cases increasing your panels and feeding back to the grid will be a more "bang for your buck" option.

For expert advice on your options or to get a quote, deal directly with The Solar Power Pro - an experienced, fully qualified and accredited designer and installer. Just go to - Contact