Seven Reasons to Buy Solar Batteries
Are solar batteries worth it? The answer depends on your reasons for wanting them. You’re about to see seven good reasons to get solar batteries, but you’ll notice that cost is not on the list. That’s because batteries will save you money only when certain conditions are in effect, which we’ll discuss later.
For most people, the reasons to get solar batteries go beyond the savings they can contribute to your system.
Solar batteries give you energy independence and security. Batteries are a ‘quality of life’ purchase more than an economic purchase. Solar panels, on the other hand, are very much an economic purchase — you will save lots of money over the life of your panels. If you live in Georgia, especially within a few hours of Savannah, make an appointment with a Savannah solar power company, Coastal Solar.
At your consultation, you can ask about solar batteries and see if they make sense for your situation.
If you want to keep learning on your own, be sure to check out the full guide to solar power batteries and solar energy storage.
To get you thinking about it ahead of time, here are seven reasons why solar batteries are worth considering.
1. Solar batteries can keep the lights on in a power outage
The great thing about most solar batteries is that you can have a grid-connected solar panel system, but then still have power when the power goes out. Normally, this is not the case. If the power goes out, you lose power even if you have solar panels.
But with a hybrid solar battery system, you can set it up to function just like a noisy, dirty, fuel-guzzling gas generator — without the noise, dirt, or fuel. The solar batteries kick in when the power goes out, and you get to keep your lights on and your freezer working.
Do all solar batteries keep charging even during a power outage?
Actually, no. In fact, the popular Tesla Powerwall is not designed for power outages, and it will not charge when the power goes out. Only certain brands of solar batteries are designed to keep functioning during an outage. See alternatives to Tesla’s solar battery.
The caveat here is that, usually, you will not be able to keep all the power-dependent systems of your home operating just on solar batteries. This means, when you have the batteries installed, you will need to select the specific home systems you want them to support. Usually, this would be the fridge, freezer, lights, and possibly a few other systems. In the winter, you might want to be able to power a space heater, for example.
But air conditioning and heating use up a lot of power, as does the water heater. To power those with battery backups, you would need more batteries, which drives up your costs.
2. You have solar power in evening and at night
Evening and nighttime are when the majority of homes use the most energy. And since power outages aren’t that common, this is the most frequent scenario when your solar batteries will make a difference for you.
Normally, once the sun goes down and your solar panels stop producing energy, the grid will have to supply you with the energy you need. With solar batteries, you can continue to use the power generated by your panels in the evening and night until the battery gets depleted. Then, the grid will supply your energy needs into the morning, when your solar panels start producing again.
With more solar batteries, you have a greater chance of making it through the night without needing any energy from the grid. But then again, your costs will go up.
You can see how the reasons to get solar batteries really depend on what’s important to you.
3. Use all your solar power
Solar batteries increase your solar panel efficiency, because you get to use all your own power, rather than sending any of it to the grid.
For people who want grid independence, this is a major point in favor of solar batteries. The batteries give you freedom. You can use the power at night, during outages (with the right setup), and whenever else you need it. The more batteries you install and the more solar panels you have, the farther you can make it without needing any help from the grid.
You’ll still need to carefully calculate how many KWH your house uses.
4. For going off grid
Off grid solar energy is a pretty different scenario than grid connected panels, and in general, we don’t recommend it for homes, farms, and businesses as their sole source of power. In some cases, it’s not really even an option due to local regulations and system requirements.
But for some people, going off grid is about the lifestyle and the values behind it, and they want to make it work. For those people, solar batteries are obviously essential, and you’ll need several of them, as well as a lot of panels. That’s the only way to generate and store enough energy to get through the nights, especially in winter.
5. Your utility doesn’t offer net metering
Let’s get back to the money question.
We’ve said that solar batteries sometimes don’t pencil out as well in terms of making back your investment compared to just having solar panels. One exception to that is in places with no net metering, or net metering that pays back paltry rates.
What is net metering?
Normally, any excess energy your solar panels generate during the day goes back into the grid, and they can use that power however they want. Some utilities — some states even require this — will give you a credit on your power bill for any excess energy you generate for them, since you’re reducing how much energy they need to produce themselves.
But does the utility have to credit you the same amount as they charge you, per kilowatt-hour? Again, this depends on where you live.
Some pay 1:1 price matches. For solar owners in those places, batteries don’t provide much economic advantage because you get credit for all your generated power. But other utilities pay very low net metering rates. And some pay none.
So, if your utility doesn’t offer net metering, or pays very low rates, then for you, solar batteries will save you money over time, because it means you’ll be using all the power your system generates, and thus will need much less from the grid at their ever-increasing rates.
In Georgia, net metering isn’t required, and most of the utilities aren’t very generous about it, if they offer it at all. That’s one reason we like our customers to consider solar batteries.
6. Your utility charges time of use rates
Similar to the net metering question, this is a situation where your solar batteries can actually save you money.
Some utilities charge different rates depending on the time of day. Most of the time, they charge higher rates in the evening and early nighttime. Of course, this is when your solar panels are no longer producing energy.
That means you generated all this energy in the day and sent the excess to the grid. And now when you need it the most, you have to buy it from the grid, but at higher rates. If your utility offers net metering, but the rates are flat all the time and don’t keep pace with the changing time of use rates, then you’re missing out on solar energy savings.
Again, solar batteries will let you maximize the savings potential from your panels in this situation, because you can keep using energy you generated, and will avoid those higher time of use rates.
7. Your state has extra financial incentives
The federal solar tax credit known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) applies to solar panels as well as solar batteries. It is currently at 26%. So whatever your solar battery and installation costs, you’ll get a quarter of it back. That’s a good deal. If you install batteries at the same time as your panels, you’ll save more money because installing them separately costs more.
But some states and localities offer additional incentives that apply to solar batteries and panels. Washington state, for example, charges no sales tax for solar installations. Use a local solar installer, and they should know if there are any more savings you can access for your batteries.
Why buy solar batteries?
Solar batteries are a great choice if you want more energy independence from the grid, backup emergency power for power outages, and to make the full use of your solar energy production.
And for people who pay higher time of use electricity rates and don’t have net metering, solar batteries also might be a smart financial decision.
How do you pick the best solar batteries for your situation? There are a ton of choices, and not all of them apply to every situation. As you read earlier, some solar batteries do NOT work in a power outage. In addition to that, here are seven features of solar batteries to help you choose the best brand for you.
You can also just ask your solar consultant about batteries when you get a solar quote, and they can help you figure out which ones would work best for your situation.