Solar Batteries: Are They Worth It for DIY Handymen?
Solar batteries are devices that store excess electricity generated by solar panels and allow you to use it later when the sun is not shining. They can be a useful addition to your solar system, especially if you want to increase your self-reliance, reduce your grid dependence, or save money on your electricity bills. However, they also come with some challenges and costs that you need to consider before installing them. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of solar batteries for DIY handymen, and help you decide if they are worth it for your situation.
Advantages of Solar Batteries
Solar batteries can offer several benefits for DIY handymen who have or plan to install solar panels on their homes, garages, sheds, or other properties. Here are some of the main advantages:
- Maximize your solar usage: Solar batteries allow you to use more of the electricity that your solar panels produce, instead of sending it back to the grid or wasting it. This can increase your self-consumption rate, which is the percentage of solar energy that you use directly from your system. A higher self-consumption rate means that you rely less on the grid and buy less electricity from your utility company, which can save you money and reduce your carbon footprint.
- Provide backup power: Solar batteries can provide backup power in case of a grid outage or a blackout. This can be useful if you live in an area that experiences frequent or prolonged power cuts, or if you have critical loads that need uninterrupted power supply, such as medical equipment, security systems, or refrigerators. Solar batteries can also provide backup power for off-grid systems that are not connected to the grid at all, and rely on generators or other sources for backup power.
- Take advantage of time-of-use tariffs: Solar batteries can help you take advantage of time-of-use tariffs, which are pricing schemes that charge different rates for electricity at different times of the day. For example, some utility companies charge more for electricity during peak hours (usually in the evening) and less during off-peak hours (usually in the morning or night). Solar batteries can help you shift your electricity usage from peak hours to off-peak hours by storing excess solar power during the day and using it at night. This can lower your electricity bills and increase your return on investment.
- Earn money from the grid: Solar batteries can help you earn money from the grid by participating in demand response programs or virtual power plants. Demand response programs are schemes that pay customers to reduce their electricity demand or supply electricity to the grid during times of high demand or low supply. Virtual power plants are networks of distributed energy resources (such as solar panels and batteries) that are aggregated and controlled by a central operator to provide electricity services to the grid. By joining these programs or platforms, you can earn extra income from your solar battery while supporting the stability and reliability of the grid.
Disadvantages of Solar Batteries
Solar batteries also have some drawbacks that DIY handymen need to be aware of before installing them. Here are some of the main disadvantages:
- High upfront cost: Solar batteries are expensive to buy and install. The cost depends on the type, size, and quality of the battery, as well as the installation and wiring costs. This is in addition to the cost of the solar panels and other components of the solar system.
- Long payback period: Solar batteries take a long time to pay for themselves through savings or earnings from electricity. The payback period depends on several factors, such as the cost of the battery, the cost of electricity, the feed-in tariff rate (the amount paid by the utility company for excess solar power exported to the grid), the self-consumption rate, and the usage pattern.
- Limited lifespan: Solar batteries have a limited lifespan and degrade over time. The lifespan depends on the type, quality, and usage of the battery. The most common types of solar batteries are lead-acid and lithium-ion. Lead-acid batteries are cheaper but have lower efficiency, capacity, and durability than lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive but have higher efficiency, capacity, and durability than lead-acid batteries. The average lifespan of a lead-acid battery is around 5 years, while the average lifespan of a lithium-ion battery is around 10 years. This means that you may need to replace your solar battery at least once or twice during the lifetime of your solar system.
- Strict installation and maintenance requirements: Solar batteries have strict installation and maintenance requirements that DIY handymen need to follow for safety and performance reasons. Solar batteries are classified into three categories applies to batteries installed in a fixed location with a voltage of at least 12 volts and a capacity of at least 1 kWh. Category 1 covers pre-assembled integrated battery energy storage systems, such as the Tesla Powerwall 2, which have internal safety switches and inverters. Category 2 covers pre-assembled battery systems, such as the LG Chem RESU 10, which have internal safety switches but no inverters. Category 3 covers all other batteries, such as lead-acid batteries. Each category has different installation and maintenance requirements, such as restricted locations, ventilation, fire protection, signage, testing, commissioning, and documentation.
Solar batteries can be a valuable addition to your solar system. They have some advantages, such as maximizing your solar usage, providing backup power, taking advantage of time-of-use tariffs, and earning money from the grid. However, they also have some disadvantages, such as high upfront cost, long payback period, limited lifespan, and strict installation and maintenance requirements.
The Lithium battery saves you money by reducing your usage of power from the grid, even when the sun isn’t shining!
13.5kWh usable in each battery and scalable stack up to 10 units for a huge 135kWh of storage!
Solar produced is used by the home first, with any excess charging the battery.
When your battery is full, excess solar not used by the home is exported to the grid to get a FiT (Feed-in Tariff).
Use the stored power at night or as your home needs a boost to reduce power drawn from the grid.
Backup power functionality – Keep the lights, tv and refrigerator on!
When your battery has been fully drained your home will be powered from the grid.
10 year limited warranty – covers 10 years of daily cycling or 3, 650 cycles, whichever comes first.
Monitor the status of the battery via the App or online monitoring portal.
No maintenance required. Add to an existing or a new solar system seamlessly.
The battery will get regular software and firmware updates directly from Tesla as needed.
The battery is built for daily use daily cycling of the battery is expected and covered by warranty.
At end of life, Tesla is accepting the batteries for recycling at its Gigafactory.
Become a green household by reducing your reliance on dirty grid power.
Batteries have other benefits as well. For example, they can store power temporarily and sell it back to the utility when time-of-use rates are higher, ensuring you sell power to the utility at peak rates
Achieve total energy independence and go off-grid using the battery or virtually off-grid by drawing next to nothing from the gr