Battery backups are seemingly growing more popular in demand in recent years, but why? Today we will dive deeper into why this might be and how you may benefit from one.
A battery backup solution will give you peace of mind knowing when the power goes out, your most critical items will not be powerless. While a battery backup system is an additional upfront cost to your solar energy system, you can save money in the long run. This is because your home will pull power from the battery backup before it pulls power from the grid. The solar panels then will recharge the battery backup when the sun comes back up. Here is what you need to know when thinking about adding a battery backup to your system.
How Does Battery Storage Work?
The energy from the solar panels is sent to the inverter where the direct current (DC) is converted to alternating current (AC). The energy produced is first used in the home, the excess energy not used in the home is then sent to charge the battery backup. If your system is still overproducing and the battery is full, that excess energy is sent back to the grid and in some states you get credited per kWh (net metering).
At night or when you are not producing you can use the energy stored in the battery or have your electricity set up to pull from the grid. Pulling from the grid will allow the battery to stay fully charged for emergencies only. This also means you will be able to use the credits you have built up from net metering.
In an event of an outage all grid-tied solar systems are automatically turned off. This is done to protect utility workers that may be working on the power lines. However, if it is still sunny during the power outage the solar panels will continue to feed energy into the battery backup. If the panels are not producing any energy the house will solely be pulling energy from the battery. The battery is only able to power a select number of appliances (up to 50A) such as: fridge/freezer, lighting, WIFI, sump pump, etc.
Benefits of Battery Storage?
The major benefit of a battery backup up is to have an independent source of power during an outage. Batteries will allow you to replace a conventional gas generator which is not only extremely loud but also releases pollutants back into the environment. A battery backup is a simple, quiet, maintenance free source of energy. However, just like smaller gas generators you will only be able to supply power to items up to 50 Amps. You will not be able to power major appliances like an air conditioner, electric stove or 240-volt EV charger.
The second benefit to a battery backup system is the savings you get in the long term. If you configure your system to draw power from the battery when you are underproducing you are not relying on the grid. Over time those little savings add up to huge savings in the long run.
How Much Does it Cost to Add Battery Storage?
A battery backup will add anywhere from $9,000- $12,000 to your solar energy system purchase. Most batteries are mounted outside near your inverter and power meter. If possible, and requested by the homeowner a battery can be mounted inside the home in the basement. This does require a bit more labor and equipment that will increase the cost.
If you are adding a battery backup to an existing system it is a pretty straightforward installation. However, you will need to switch out your inverter to one that is compatible with a battery backup system. The installation time and the labor costs to add a battery backup to an existing system are generally nominal and prove to be worth the investment. A good idea to future proof your home is to install a “battery ready” inverter when you install solar. If a battery is not right for you at the time of purchase, this readies you to simply add batteries in the future.
Comparing a battery backup system to a generator really puts into perspective how much time and money you can save. Generators are expensive, low end models can start at $2,000 and top of the line models can push well over $8,000. On top of that there is maintenance costs and the cost of fuel to run them. With a battery backup there is just the upfront cost, no maintenance, no fuel and no hassle.