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? 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 normally used in suburban areas - like most of the Illawarra - but more in rural areas where getting grid power to the property is exorbitantly expensive.

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 or other times of higher usage instead of it going back into the grid. Many hybrid systems will also give you back up power in the case of blackouts - however this is usually not for not for all your power - but can allow limited back up of some electrical loads.

There are two main types of of Hybrid system - DC coupled and AC coupled.

DC coupled systems require a hybrid inverter (which is like a normal grid connect inverter but with added ability to manage batteries). A hybrid inverter can have a battery bank added at the time of a solar installation or can work as a normal inverter and have batteries added later. Please note that you can't add just any battery to the hybrid inverter - you must add batteries that it has been matched to. A hybrid inverter is a good choice if you are going to add batteries at the time of installation or soon thereafter. If you think you may want to add batteries further down the track, then an AC coupled system may best.

AC coupled systems can be added to pretty much any existing solar system or inverter. AC coupled systems include the battery and control components in one and so are more flexible in where they can be used. These are usually the best choice if you want to add to an existing solar system as you don't need to change the inverter.

Is it for me?

That depends on several factors - including your budget. Battery technology has improved and battery prices have come down - although not as much as hoped. At the moment, depending on the type and size you select, a hybrid solar system (solar and batteries) will usually double the cost of a standard size 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 battery system will allow you to store and use that power. If you are using up most of your solar power during the day, then a normal solar system (without batteries) would likely be the best choice.

Its also good to keep in mind that you will a get credit for what power you feed back into the grid (what you don't use). In the past the feed in tariff was quite generous, meaning that you might as well just get the credit for the extra power rather than spend money on batteries. Unfortunately the feed in tariff, while still there and helpful, isn't what it used to be - so this has increased the appeal of batteries. Some people are also concerned with the possibility of time of use metering. This is not in place here yet, but as they are changing all meters to smart meters this will become possible - and many feel inevitable. Batteries will be a great way to deal with this as they give you some control over the timing of when you use power or when you sell it back to the grid - allowing you to make time of use metering to work in your favour.

So while batteries don't provide as good a return on investment as a solar system, they are now better value than they used to be. Many people also like to have that extra control over their power - and some backup during blackouts. Taking in to consideration all the above factors can help you decide if you feel batteries are right for you.

Can my solar system be installed battery ready?

Yes- pretty much any system is battery ready as you can add storage later to the system via an AC coupled battery. 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 a normal inverter with the option of AC coupled batteries later may be best.

What if I already have a solar system?

As mentioned above, 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.

For expert advice on your options or to get a quote, deal directly with The Solar Power Pro. Just go to - Contact