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Comparing Solar Batteries

Some want to use renewable energy sources for their household's energy needs, and then there are those who are unaware of the benefits. There is a financial benefit when using sustainable, eco-conscious tech in the form of batteries.

The concern, however, is that it can be hard to tell if this style of renewable energy will be worth the cost over time both to you and the environment. The cost of solar panels mounted on your roof and the storage price can vary significantly based on the size of your system.

If you have an extensive system, the total expenses may be higher than expected. This cost might double if you do not take care to prepare and plan beforehand and understand what is required of you before you set it up at home. In this blog, we will explain the cost implication of installing solar batteries at home so that you are better prepared.

Factors To Consider When Installing Solar

Some people who are interested in installing a solar system to power their electrical needs in their home or business are unaware of the process involved. They might not know the right approach as there are many confusing tales on how you can save money by installing a solar energy system.

You are bound to get the cost right by conducting relevant research and, therefore, enjoy the benefits of using solar energy if you take the proper steps. You must consider the cost implication of having batteries and not only think of the benefits you will enjoy with the installation. You should also think about the primary factors that influence the initial cost.

Solar batteries are available in various sizes ranging from the small types that may be used for such things as a remote control to utility batteries often used for solar energy storage. One benefit that may come in handy when purchasing them is that some states frequently provide attractive solar rebates that you may use to offset the cost of the batteries.

Which Battery Is Most Suited For Solar Storage?

There are three options for you to choose from when considering a solar battery for your house. These include lead acid, saltwater, and lithium-ion. Lithium-ion batteries have proven to be quite efficient, but they come at a much higher cost than the others. Saltwater and lead-acid batteries are cheaper and easily affordable, making people opt for them.

Here's some information about each type:

Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are known to be typically lightweight and compact in size. They boast of a longer product life and are also known to have a higher Degree of Depletion (DoD). Although they are more expensive than the other two types, they remain the best choice and are used as the gold standard in battery storage.

Lead-acid batteries

Off-grid generators are usually set up with lead-acid batteries, but they also have their own limitations. For example, they don't last as long and produce less power than other batteries types.

This type of battery can serve as a good option if what you are looking for is an option that costs less than lithium-ion batteries. If you plan to be totally off-grid and would like to have many batteries in place to keep a regular schedule, lead batteries can very well serve that purpose for you.

Saltwater batteries

Saltwater batteries require less energy to create; they're environmentally friendly and offer a more sustainable option than other batteries. You can recycle these batteries easily, but they must go through a special process if you want to dispose of them. Also, they are not recommended because they have not yet been thoroughly tested and are relatively new on the market.

Lithium-ion batteries are the best because they are compact, lighter weight, and last longer than the other ones. If you are low on budget and want an eco-friendly and cheap option, buy lead-acid batteries.

Should People Pay So Much For Solar Batteries?

Solar batteries can cost thousands of dollars, which influences the overall setup cost to a large extent. However, do not expect a substantial or quick ROI (Return of Investment) because their use may not extend beyond ten years, going by current solar battery technology. It takes about three years before a solar system can pay for itself. If you include a battery, it will take at least ten years.

There is still significant work that must be done on solar battery technology. Once we develop cheaper yet powerful options, setup costs will significantly decrease. Owners may be the ones who pay off the expense because the system may not be able to do so during part of its use.

How To Cut Down Solar System Battery Costs

Changes in solar technology can definitely improve the way energy storage systems are used in homes. Just look at the Tesla Powerwall, for example. Such improvements will save people a lot of money and help ease the financial burden of continued usage and add to home affordability in general.

Until such a time, what you can do now is install solar panels and subscribe to an excellent feed-in tariff. When you do this, you will be using the grid as your personal battery, therefore saving your money in the long run. You will be able to get credit from utility companies for the excess solar energy that was generated during the day but that you did not use.

The same energy is fed back to you at night. Note that utility companies will make money from you since they will be buying at off-peak rates. These companies will feed it back to you during peak periods, and you would still reduce your bills by up to 90%.

Lithium Ion Versus Lead Acid Solar Batteries

A direct comparison between lithium-ion and lead-acid can help you decide where to invest your money; the alternatives recommended for now are lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries.

Useable capacity

Lithium-ion

A lithium-ion battery that is used regularly has a rated capacity above 85 per cent. A 100-amp hour battery, for instance, can store 85-amp hours or even more.

Lead-acid

This battery is typically rated for between 30 and 50 per cent of capacity. It is not the best for energy storage needs. For instance, you can only draw at most 50 amp-hours of energy from a 100-amp hour battery.

Charging efficiency

Lithium-ion

You can fast-charge a lithium-ion battery to 100 per cent quickly with a good charger. This process will not take you more than half the time lead-acid batteries take to complete the same process. Also, even if you fail to charge it up to 100% every time, it will still serve you well.

One of the reasons lithium-ion is most preferred is that it does not have a battery memory. This means it is unnecessary for you to deep cycle it each time you charge the battery and discharge it.

Lead-acid

Charging the battery is not straightforward because this is old technology. With a smart three-stage charger, you can get the battery charged up to 80% of capacity, but you can't expect the remaining 20% that remains to be charged equally fast. If you time the two periods, you may find that both the 20% and the 80% of the charge take the same length of time to charge up.

Life cycle

Lithium-ion

Lithium-ion batteries can manage between 2,000 and 5,000 charge-discharge cycles. The battery will still be efficient enough to give 75% of its capacity even after it has completed 2,000 cycles.

Lead-acid

These batteries have a limited charge-discharge cycle of 500 and 1,000. If you use the battery regularly, you will need to replace it in under four years.

Maintenance requirements

Lithium-ion

There isn't much to do when it comes to battery maintenance. All you have to do is ensure balanced charging.

Ensure a balanced charging process by having your solar installer build a remote monitoring system that allows you to monitor everything from an app. With the help of the Battery Management System, all cells in the battery are charged automatically and adequately (BMS).

Lead-acid

Maintaining this battery is difficult because you have to frequently top it up with distilled water. Although gel cells and AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) do not require this sort of maintenance, they may become flooded with water if overcharged.

Energy efficiency

Lithium-ion

The newest models of lithium-ion batteries offer nearly 100% inefficiency. This is vital since your goal is to have a battery storage facility to store as much solar energy as possible. This is important, especially during winter or autumn when solar energy from the sun is at its lowest.

Lead-acid

Lead-acid batteries are not as efficient in keeping energy and, at best, can only be about 85% efficient. With continued use, their efficiency tends to drop off rapidly.

Performance in cold temperatures

Lithium-ion

Both types of batteries lose their efficiency in cold temperatures. However, a lithium-ion battery is still better off in terms of efficiency than a lead-acid battery. Lithium-ion batteries can sustain 80% efficiency even at - 20 degrees Celsius.

Lead-acid

Lead acid can only manage about 30% efficiency when the temperature is -20 degrees Celsius. This is not a good investment if you live in a cold environment. The efficiency is no better when the temperature is extremely high too.

Is Solar Battery Storage A Worthy Investment?

Many Australian homes have shown a willingness to purchase solar battery storage to minimise or eliminate their reliance on mains power. In Sydney, for example, at least one out of every four new systems were fitted with a battery storage system.

A lot of effort has gone into making sure solar battery systems are the future. The use of batteries makes it possible to store solar power generated during the day for night time use. The power stored can also be used on cloudy days when it becomes impossible for solar panels to generate electricity.

It has even been shown that using a battery in a residential solar system can increase the amount of self-generated electricity to twice the amount consumed. However, the hefty upfront cost that consumers must bear has many wondering if it is worth investing now or if it would be better to wait until the price decreases to a more reasonable level.

What Is The Actual Solar Batteries Cost?

There is no simple answer to the issue of how much batteries cost since several variables come into play while installing a battery, all of which can affect the entire cost. A rule of thumb is that a residential solar battery should cost around $1,000 per kWh, including installation cost and GST (Goods and Services Tax).

Some of the variables that you will have to consider include the size of the battery, your preferred brand of the battery, and the solar installers used in completing the works. Several other tasks may need to be done before your system can function properly, such as installing an additional inverter.

There may also be the need for other tasks to be carried out before the battery can work properly with your system. For example, the need for the installation of an additional inverter.

Should Australians Invest In Solar Batteries?

The answer to this question depends on your individual needs. In many cases where decisions are based on the Return on Investment (ROI), the answer is typically no. This is because ROIs for some systems can take decades to recover, and the upfront costs for such systems can be prohibitive.

However, there may be instances where the investment may be worth making now rather than later, and they are listed below:

When utility charges are greater than the feed-in-tariff

Properties that use solar power systems will ideally sell surplus kilowatt-hours (kWh) to energy companies. This is referred to as a feed-in tariff and has many people wonder why they should consider battery storage if they can get paid for the excess solar power they generate.

Note that some of these utility companies charge more for what they buy from a customer. Each kWh that is stored in batteries to be used at a later time is worth more than the price it would cost if sent back to the grid. Savings that may be made by storing and using the electricity yourself can become significant, but this will depend on prevailing market rates.

If federal and/or state incentive programs are available

The financial case made for batteries can be better if local rebates and other incentives are provided. Incentives can be in the form of upfront rebates at batteries outlets or demand response programs that reward non-reliance on the mains' power supply.

There are different active battery programs in Australia, and they vary from one state and territory to the other. More people will be encouraged to adopt battery energy storage systems if incentives are provided that reduce purchase and installation costs. The outlook improves when battery incentives are combined with mains power which is the case in several parts of Australia.

Factors That Impact Energy Storage Cost

Factors that impact energy storage cost include the type of equipment you want to install, the electrical work that is needed for the installation, and where you will find an installer. The most crucial factor of the three is the equipment, although the others are also important and must be considered.

The quality of the batteries you want to use

In a similar manner to the way solar costs influence the overall energy storage cost, so does the quality of the product you choose. The quality of the solar energy storage product you pick impacts the total cost of energy storage.

Most of the storage products in the market meet safety standards. But you cannot eliminate variations in the general quality of energy storage systems. You will likely need to pay more if you need higher-quality products.

The number of batteries needed for your solar system

Storage installations are unique because people's storage needs are not the same. Generally, storage systems are not as flexible as solar panel systems. It is not difficult to add or remove a unit solar panel from a solar system.

However, it is not such a simple task to fine-tune the size of the battery storage system solutions in the market now. As such, the cost of storage systems varies greatly depending on the number of kilowatt-hours of energy that you need to store. This will dictate the number of batteries required for installation.

The availability of an inverter

Batteries are designed to store direct current (DC) electricity. However, our homes and businesses use alternating current (AC) electricity. An inverter is required to convert electricity in the form it is stored in your battery into AC electricity.

If your battery does not come with an inverter, you will have to buy one, which can add to the overall cost of the system.

The chemical composition of the battery

With the different types of batteries available in the market today, you may have to go through a long list of different brand names and do due diligence before you settle for what best meets your needs.

The most common type of battery operates on a form of lithium-ion chemistry to store electrical energy. Lithium-ion batteries that are more commonly seen and available are lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and nickel manganese cobalt (NMC). The chemistry of these batteries is not the same, and they have different characteristics.

While the NMC batteries are known to be more power-dense, the LFP batteries have been proven to last longer. As a result of this, they are sold at different prices. Usually, you will find out that LFP batteries cost more than the NMC batteries.

The installation of energy storage and solar equipment

A significant amount of electrical work needs to be carried out when energy installations are done, and a proportional amount of time needs to be used by the installer too.

As a result of this, if you allow your energy storage installation to be done at the time the solar installation is done, you are likely to observe some time efficiencies in the process. You could save some costs since all electrical work will be done together, and it will not be necessary for your installer to make repeated trips to your location.

The use of critical load panels

Although many storage solutions are readily available today, most of them are not designed to cater to every load in a home. This means that you will have to join specific circuits to a critical load panel.

The critical load panel serves as a secondary electrical panel for you to add all essential circuits that need to maintain their energised status should there be an outage. The critical load panel is not expensive, but the electrical work that needs to be done can significantly increase the total cost.

Considerations Before You Buy Solar Batteries

You may be convinced already or still wondering if solar batteries are for you. Things are not static, and the world is changing. Global business attitudes, international agreements, environmental concerns, and public awareness are factors that are leading us towards a low-carbon economy.

We all should limit our reliance on the grid because of the influence our consumption lifestyle has on the Earth and the security of generations to come. This should motivate everyone to cut down on our individual carbon footprints. It is a case of future-proofing ourselves.

Consult A Specialist On Solar Storage Systems

Becoming less dependent on the main power supply gives your family and business the assurance that there will always be a reliable energy source to use. It is possible that the excess energy you generate is not needed immediately, but it will undoubtedly be helpful in the near future.

If you eventually invest in an electric vehicle, which more than 50% of Australians are looking to do, then installing a battery like the Tesla Powerwall could set you up quicker and better.

The future is nearer than we think, and it will surely get better as more people take up battery energy storage systems. If you would like to shift to solar battery storage but have no clue how to do it, talk to a local specialist.