The Home Battery Revolution

Solar Battery’s

Solar batteries are only recently becoming more advanced in the renewable energy world. Solar battery storage technology has moved on a lot in recent years, now becoming an affordable storage solution. The cost of these battery storage systems ranges from about £2000 to £6,000. Installation costs can be £500 on top. A battery can last between 5 and 15 years although your solar panels will last longer – up to 50 years. Having to replace them more regularly can make your costs rise, as the average life time of solar panels is upwards of 25 years. If you are not home during the day though, it makes sense to store the power generated from your solar panels for when you need it most.

So why have a battery

Up until recently solar panels have been used without battery systems. This has meant any excess energy generated has either been sold back to the grid or lost. With technology advancing year on year, energy storage has now become a reality. On cloudy days or in the evening, your battery system can now use the stored excess energy from daylight hours. This means solar energy generated is not wasted. If you are looking to be more independent of the national grid, this may be a good investment. When costing the project, it is a good idea to factor in the amount of energy your household uses daily.

The advantage of this is that energy bills will be lowered even further. When night fell previously or there had been a very cloudy day, solar panels became ineffective and power had to be used from the grid, increasing electricity usage. Now with batteries in place the power from a sunny day can be stored and used at these times.

Things such as power cuts will have less effect as your battery system will have the power supply covered. You carbon footprint will also reduce as your dependence on fossil fuels becomes even less. By storing your clean energy, you reduce the amount of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. If your energy suppliers allow it, you could make money from power stored by selling it back to them.

As discussed, you can expect to pay between £2000 and £4000 for a battery unit. This is quite a high out going and if you are paying for solar panels, this will push up the price. However, if you are looking to further reduce your energy bills, they can be cut by up to 35% just from installing the battery. Some batteries will need to be changed about every 5 years, others will last longer.  So, it is wise to factor in the cost of changing the batteries. The cost of batteries has fallen in recent years as have solar panel costs.  With the government ending the Feed in Tariff payments it is most cost effective, now more than ever, to consider a battery unit.

Installing the battery

You may be wondering, if you already have a solar array, whether batteries are easily added? The answer is yes, you can easily add them to your existing solar panels system. The unit will need to be installed into your home, generally being around the size of one of your kitchen appliances, such as a washing machine. Most people consider places such as the kitchen to install them, but you could put them anywhere you can create space. You could also install them during the installation of your solar PV system. The two technologies work very well together meaning you get more out of both, ultimately saving you money and providing you will clean eco-friendly energy. The units can be floor standing or fitted to walls and can be indoor or outdoor. You may need to factor in the weight of the units when installing them as they are quite heavy.

Types of battery

The types of battery are based on the materials used within them. The main materials used are Lead Acid, Lithium, NiCad, Nickel-Cadium and NiFe Nickel Iron. The most popular type is lithium. These batteries have a much longer cycle life than other batteries and have a lower cost per cycle. This makes them the most cost-effective battery and the safest. Lead acid batteries are the least expensive option. They have been used effectively for years in these kinds of systems. One downside is that their lifespan is shorter than other batteries. If you need batteries en mass, this could be a cheaper option. Nickel cadmium batteries offer long life and are cheaper compared with other options. These batteries are robust and can cope with varying temperatures.

Lithium ion batteries discharge 70% to 90%, lead acid around 50%. This, along with a longer lifespan makes the lithium-ion batteries more expensive. The lifespan of a lithium battery is 11-15 years, much longer than that of a lead acid battery. Depth of discharge is also better with a lithium ion battery, DOD meaning how long you can use the battery before recharging. You must ensure you know what percent you can use without recharging to ensure the battery life isn’t shortened.

The size of your battery needs to be correct for safety reasons. Your supplier and installer should be able to calculate and guide you to buy the correct size and voltage.

Brands include:

. Tesla Powerwall

. Power vault

. Samsung

. LG

There are many other brands out there. These are some of the most popular, well known brands. The prices vary on these brands from £1,700 to £5,970. It’s always best to shop around and get some quotes.

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Maintenance

You should be prepared to keep up with any maintenance and upkeep of your battery unit. It needs to maintain efficiency and also be safe to use. It needs regular checks and charging and should be protected from extreme temperatures. These batteries are as safe as other appliances and electrical items, but they should be installed correctly by a trusted installer.

Finally, you do not need solar panels to have a home battery. They can be used alone and can supply 24 hours of power, this time increasing depending on the amount of batteries you have. Even without solar panels, this kind of system can save you money and give you reassurance that you have back up power. If you wish to sell the energy back to the grid you can even make money.

Learn more about solar panel batteries here.