Installing rooftop solar panels gives homeowners access to free and renewable daytime electricity. But what happens when the sun sets or gets blocked by clouds? This is where adding solar battery storage becomes game changing. Battery systems capture surplus solar energy during peak production hours for use 24/7.
What is a Solar Battery Storage System?
Grid-connected solar panel systems feed unused power back to utility companies whenever generation exceeds a home’s demands. While economical, this arrangement means households still rely upon the traditional electric grid daily. Solar battery storage offers an alternative for homeowners seeking energy independence and backup resiliency.
The experts over at Vivint Solar explain that a solar battery system comprises high-capacity lithium battery banks coupled with smart inverter systems. The batteries store electricity from rooftop solar panels during midday peaks when generation exceeds real-time household usage. The inverter converts stored DC electricity from batteries into 120V AC power on demand for home use. Sophisticated energy management software continuously monitors usage patterns and solar production to optimize system performance.
Quality solar battery systems provide uninterrupted electricity around the clock – even running central AC, appliances, and devices overnight after the sun sets.Storing surplus solar energy created midday means solar battery systems can fully power homes 24/7 with the right battery capacity and solar array size.
The primary motivation for most homeowners investing in solar battery storage is achieving independence from the traditional electrical grid while stabilizing energy costs long term.
For a typical single family household, installing a 10kW rooftop solar array generally costs around $15,000 before incentives. Factor in the 30% federal tax credit plus other state solar incentives, and out-of-pocket could drop below $10,000. Now suppose that home installs an additional $8,000 large-capacity battery storage system to unlock overnight usage of their solar generation. Total outlay lands around $18,000.
In exchange, that household cuts ties with the utility grid entirely thanks to stored solar reserves meeting average household electricity needs – day and night. At a typical rate of $0.12 per kWh, the home previously spent over $1,400 yearly on electricity bills. Over 10 years, their $18,000 solar battery system investment repays itself in avoided bills plus nearly $15,000 saved over the subsequent decade. And the cost savings continue accumulating from there while energy rates inflate over time. Clearly, adding batteries to unlock solar usage 24/7 provides huge value.
Sizing Solar Battery Systems
The key consideration when adding battery storage is proper sizing to match household electricity loads, solar array output, seasonal weather impacts, and projected usage growth. Work with reputable installers using modeling tools that factor in all these dynamics across years of projected system usage. Data like hourly household consumption rates help determine ideal storage capacity and inverter ratings. Military-grade lithium battery componentry lasts 5,000+ cycles before degradation, equating to 10-15 years of effective life. Overall system design needs to enable replacing batteries economically down the road while minimizing component overbuild wastage.
Ideally, the solar array and solar battery system together offer 130-150% or more of average daily household electrical loads for full independence. Over-sizing compensates for days with poor sunlight while providing upside for incremental needs like vehicle charging. It takes advanced simulation tools to appropriately spec all components for efficiency and economy over the full system lifespan.
Maintenance Needs and Considerations
Compared to solar panels that operate maintenance free for 25+ years, solar battery storage has some nominal servicing requirements and replacement need timelines. Environmental extremes can affect performance and lifespan, so monitoring software and occasional maintenance checks are beneficial. Some localized component swaps may prove necessary over years of continuous usage.
Battery replacements represent the main planned cost, needing swap-out as early as year 8-10 and certainly by year 15 when charging capacity drops substantially. Budgeting ahead is wise, as replacement cost for full battery banks and labor can run over $10,000. Some manufacturers now offer capacity insurance guarantees along with options to trade-in aging battery packs at discounted rates on upgraded replacement systems. Proper solar battery storage planning minimizes lifetime ownership costs.
Solar technology keeps advancing rapidly, including battery chemistries with greater storage density, quicker recharge rates, improved lifespans, and lower degradation. Coupled with smart software and converter systems that orchestrate power intelligently, solar battery capabilities should continue getting better and cheaper this decade. Home hydrogen fuel cell systems allowing long-term energy storage may complement batteries down the road too.
Pairing home solar battery storage with electric vehicles that recharge primarily (or exclusively) via the home system represents another emerging trend. Since solar power gets stored centrally, it allows powering both houses and cars predominantly from renewable energy flows. As batteries advance further, once exotic concepts like self-sufficient solar homes powering electric vehicles become mainstream reality thanks to thoughtful system planning.
Achieving Energy Resilience
Rather than just financially motivated, some households prioritize resilience and install solar battery storage to power through grid outages. With climate change driving more frequent extreme weather episodes, regional blackouts are likely to become normalized. Yet even brief power losses can have serious, even life-threatening consequences for vulnerable populations. Solar battery storage connected to rooftop solar arrays creates reliable backup power reserves able to sustain houses indefinitely. Adding small supplemental generators can further reinforce energy resilience during events like storms that limit solar recharging. With sufficient battery capacity, even multi-day outages barely disrupt households equipped with solar backup power systems and smart energy orchestration capabilities. For resilient homes able to power through disasters and infrastructure disruption events, solar battery storage is achieving must-have status alongside emergency supplies and provisions.
Adding solar battery storage to existing or new rooftop solar panel systems facilitates renewable energy independence and unlocks 24/7 usage of clean power around the clock. Proper specification of solar arrays and battery capacity combined with robust product selection simplifies maintaining even high-consumption houses indefinitely. With solar battery systems improving steadily in capacity, intelligence and economics, the technology makes electricity liberation through renewable energy a sound and rewarding investment.