Battery Storage for Solar Panels
Since solar panels became financially viable one major stumbling block to the power they generate day to day has been how to use the energy when the sun isn’t shining. Up until recently it has been impossible to store your excess solar energy safely and cost-effectively. However, there are now many solar panel battery storage solutions breaking on to the market. They vary in size and cost from a load of bread to around the size of a dishwasher and all have the ultimate aim of reducing your reliance on the National Grid.
Why We Need Storage
When solar power first started to emerge on the market, the concept of power storage and how to achieve it became a heavily discussed topic, and spend quite some time at the forefront of the minds of developers. However, the quick and easy solution of channelling excess power back to the grid took centre stage, leading a great number of people to have panels installed on their roofs.
In addition to this, a number of businesses and organisations also started to see solar panels as a way of boosting their image when it came to green energy, as well as a means of reducing their energy bills overall. However, a lot of this remained dependent on a subsidy that had the utility companies paying for the electricity that was produced.
The issue with this is, and the reason we need battery storage, that the benefit that comes with having them installed will soon be greatly reduced by the government. In some ways, this is a good thing as it will lead to the further research and development of systems that are independent of the grid.
We are already seeing some of the benefits with efficient batteries that can be placed in homes or businesses being released. What this means is that we have a workable storage solution that should allow people to use the electricity they produce at any time they wish. All without needing to pay utility companies.
How it Works
Each of the solar battery banks is designed for a specific charge or discharge level. Some of them are manufactured wet cells, and others are manufactured sealed or gel cells – each of which has their own requirements. Always make sure you read the manual and ask the manufacturers for advice if you get stuck.
When you decide to use a battery storage system, you should always make sure that it is the appropriate size and quality for the amount of solar power that it will be required to store. They should also be a deep cycle battery, unlike a car battery which is classed as a shallow cycle. Using a battery that is too small can be incredibly dangerous. Modern batteries are now made of Lithium so can charge and discharge many more times and can store considerably more energy for their size. This technology requires no maintenance for the lifetime of the battery system, much like your mobile phone battery but many, many times the size.
Batteries do make great ways to store the energy produced by solar power, and they can offer you the chance to be free from the grid. It is important to remember that when you are using batteries, they some tend to require a lot more maintenance, and currently they do not last 20 years like your solar panels. They require storage in a safe, enclosed, location that is well ventilated and non-metallic.
We do not recommend anyone tries to make their own battery at home especially on grid-tied systems. DC batteries will required to be installed by an MCS accredited installer as this will most probably require an inverter change or special retrofit. For AC fed batteries, the process is slightly easier as the battery system operates separately from the PV system and has its own AC to DC inverter built in. These systems are slightly less efficient though but are often cheaper to buy initially.
It is also entirely possible to make your own batteries with materials that you can either obtain online or from your local hardware store. You may even have some of the items at home already. The list of required materials is actually very simple and not particularly long, and you can find a range of how-to guides online. It can be a great option because it is usually a lot cheaper than buying battery storage for your solar panels, as it usually costs at least £2,000 - £4,000.
However, you should also be asking yourself if it is wise for you to be making a battery large enough to store your excess solar energy. If you have the right experience and expertise, then there should be no issues. However, for those with no knowledge or training, it could have dangerous results. A faulty battery is a potentially deadly one, so as said previously, we strongly advise against this.
The Problems with Battery Storage
The main problem with battery storage for solar energy had always been rooted in their efficiency and how long they would last before they needed to be replaced, alongside the cost compared to remaining hooked up to the National Grid.
Initially, the notion of a good return on your investment was incredibly limited, but over the past couple of years, there seems to have been quite a lot of things changing. The main thing to note here is the dramatic decrease in price and increase in quality – a combination that you do not usually see. For example, the Tesla battery was priced at £10,000, and now it is £2,000 (£4000 with installation).
However, while the price has decreased dramatically, there are still issues with the concept of solar batteries. Most of this stems from the question “can you really leave the grid?” A question that many have asked when faced with the prospect of a solar battery.
After all, if you don’t produce enough power in the day and run out at night, you will be completely without power until the next morning if you are cut off from the grid. This is especially true when we take into consideration that you can expect around 20% of the power to be lost through natural means over the course of the day.
The Benefits of Battery Storage
If you decide to remain connected to the grid and your solar battery is essentially full, the excess will still be sent back to the grid, and you will still be eligible for payments for it.
As the price of electricity rises, storing your excess means that you can become more cost effective, saving money and trying to dodge electricity bills from suppliers. You can expect storage systems like this to become more efficient as energy prices rise.
Battery storage is the first step to self-sufficiency.
Want to Know More?
Have you found yourself interested in solar panels? If you want to know more then make sure you head to our marketplace where you can find our full range of products, each with the relevant information. Or simply give us a ring using the number at the top of this page and have a chat.