Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Battery

A battery is an excellent upgrade for a home solar system. When used by themselves, solar panels can reduce your power bills reliably for decades. However, they only produce electricity when the sun is shining, which means you will continue to consume (and purchase) energy from the grid to power your home at night. What’s more, solar panels cannot be used as backup power systems during blackouts, unless they are equipped with energy storage.

You can see why energy storage is so attractive.  

A great energy storage system, such as a home battery, will achieve the best results if you choose a high quality product with the right specifications for your home.  In this article, we will discuss 5 important things to consider when purchasing a solar battery.

1) Energy Storage Capacity and Power Rating


When comparing the technical specifications of battery systems, two values are very important:

  • The energy storage capacity, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
  • The power rating, measured in kilowatts (kW).

If you want to cover 100% of your energy needs with solar power, you need a battery with enough storage capacity for your nighttime consumption. However, you must also consider the electric power used when many home devices operate simultaneously.

For example, if your home has a typical consumption of 10 kWh after sunset, simply choosing a battery that stores 10 kWh may not be enough. If the battery has a power rating of 4 kilowatts, and your appliances are suddenly using 8 kW, the 4 kW difference must come from the grid. In this case, the battery has enough energy storage capacity, but the power output is too low to keep up with your consumption.


2) Type of Battery

Most solar power systems with energy storage use lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries, and each technology has pros and cons.

  • Lead-acid batteries are an older technology with a well established supply chain. They have a lower price than lithium batteries, but also a shorter service life and more complex maintenance needs. A lead-acid battery will typically last for 500 cycles, which is less than two years if charged and discharged daily.
  • Lithium-ion batteries are a newer technology. They can be a more expensive option, but this is compensated by a longer service life – some products are rated for 10 years or more. This type of battery is better suited for frequent charging and discharging, making it an ideal complement for solar panels.

Lead-acid batteries are better suited for applications where they will not be charged and discharged frequently, such as emergency power systems and off-grid installations. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries are a better option for home solar systems, since you need a product that tolerates frequent charging cycles.

3) Clean Energy Council Approval

By purchasing a high-quality solar battery, you can ensure reliability and safe operation. However, having so many options available can cause confusion. The best recommendation is looking for solar batteries in the CEC Approved Product List, which offer the following advantages:

      • They meet Australian standards, including the lithium battery safety standard 62619:2017
      • They qualify for incentive programs applicable in your state or territory
      • They are independently tested for quality and electrical safety

At Arkana Energy we only work with approved brands like Alpha ESS, LG, Tesla and Sungrow. We are a CEC Approved Solar Retailer, and the professionals who work with us are CEC Accredited Installers and Designers.


4) Service Life and Warranty Period


Solar panels are warranted for up to 25 years or more, but battery systems have a shorter service life, which means you eventually need a replacement. However, the best home batteries with lithium-ion technology are normally rated for 10 years – with 10 year warranty coverage.

Lead-acid batteries are also viable, but their short service life of 500-1000 cycles is a limiting factor – this is less than 3 years of use with daily charging and discharging. In addition, you will need frequent maintenance and replacements. Lithium-ion batteries are much less demanding in terms of maintenance, while lasting much more.

Currently, the Tesla Powerwall, Sungrow LFP, Alpha ESS and LG Chem RESU are among the best batteries in the market, and all offer a 10-year warranty. The Tesla Powerwall has a storage capacity of 13.5 kWh, while the Sungrow LFP, Alpha ESS, LG Chem RESU product line offers many options from 6.5kW.


5) Battery Incentive Programs


Energy storage technology still has a high price, but you can claim incentives in many parts of Australia which make home energy storage an attractive solution. 

Before purchasing a solar battery, check the available incentives and make sure you meet their eligibility conditions. The following are the main battery incentive programs in Australia as of 1 September 2021:

  • Solar Victoria
  • Next Gen Battery Storage (ACT)
  • South Australia Home Battery Scheme
  • Home and Business Battery Scheme (NT)
  • Empowering Homes (NSW)

The specific incentive amounts and requirements depend on the program, but in general, only high-quality products installed by professionals will qualify. All the programs listed above offer cash incentives for solar batteries, with the exception of Empowering Homes, which provides interest-free financing.


Final Recommendations


Energy storage technology can greatly enhance solar power systems, but choosing the right battery is very important. Ideally you will want a lithium-ion battery, with enough storage capacity and power output to cover your home energy needs. To ensure high performance and safety, you should look for a CEC approved battery from a trusted manufacturer. Also, make sure you qualify for any incentive programs available in your state or territory.

Keep in mind that even the best battery technology can fail when not installed properly. With a solar battery system from Arkana Energy, you’re getting high-quality products and a professional installation by Clean Energy Council Accredited Retailer, Designer and Installer.

Looking for solar or a battery for your home or business? Fill out the form below to request pricing.


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Solar Feed-in Tariffs: How to Make Money From Solar Panels?

Solar power is one of the fastest-growing electricity sources in the world, and also one of the cheapest. There are now solar farms with lower generation costs than coal power stations, and the installed price of a home solar system is significantly lower than the electricity costs it saves. In most cases, you can expect to spend less than $7,000 on a 6.6-kW solar system after subtracting the nationwide STC incentive, even with high-quality components. However, your accumulated savings will likely surpass $14,000 in less than 10 years, which is double your investment!

Solar panels are only productive during the day, with most production taking place around noon when there is maximum sunshine. However, homes consume electricity throughout the day and night, and as a result, solar panels often produce more power than is required throughout the daylight hours. 

  • Many governments use a simple solution for this: your electricity provider purchases your surplus energy, and the payment is deducted from your power bill.
  • The rate you are paid for each kilowatt-hour sent to the grid is the feed-in tariff or FIT.

Before solar panels became popular in Australia, homeowners were offered very high FITs as an incentive to try the new technology. However, electricity providers now only pay a fraction of what they charge. For example, you may be charged over 30 cents/kWh when using electricity from the grid, while getting an FIT below 10 cents/kWh.

Feed-in tariffs are useful for making money with surplus electricity from solar panels. However, the economic benefit is higher when you consume a larger percentage of that energy. In other words, a kilowatt-hour saved is worth more than a kilowatt-hour sold.

What Percentage of Solar Generation Is Used at Home?

Homes with solar panels rarely consume all the electricity generated, since that would mean using all electrical devices at noon. The exact usage of solar energy will depend on your consumption habits, but many households fall between 30% and 50%, while the rest is exported to the grid. To demonstrate how this affects savings, we will assume that two homes have solar systems of the same size with equal productivity, but different usage habits:

  • Home #1 uses 30% of the solar power generated while exporting 70% to the grid.
  • Home #2 uses 50% of solar generation, exporting the other half.

The two systems in this example have a capacity of 6.6 kW, and they produce 10,000 kWh per year. Both homes are charged 28 cents/kWh for electricity consumed and are paid an FIT of 8.5 cents/kWh. The following table summarizes the savings and electricity sales in each case:

Scenario Savings ($) kWh Sales ($) Total ($)
Home #1 (30% solar consumption) $840 per year $595 per year $1,435 per year
Home #2 (50% solar consumption) $1,400 per year $425 per year $1,825 per year

Savings don’t appear directly in your electricity bills, since they represent energy that never crosses the power meter – it goes directly from the solar panels to the inverter, and from the inverter to your home devices. After going solar, you will simply notice that the quarterly power bill decreases.

On the other hand, solar energy that is sold to the grid gets measured by the power meter, and the amount can be seen in the electricity bill. The kilowatt-hours sold are multiplied by the feed-in tariff, and that amount is subtracted from your quarterly payment.

If both homeowners have a quarterly bill of $600 before going solar, they would notice the following changes after the installation:

    • The quarterly bill for Home #1 will decrease to around $390, and estimated kWh sales of $149 will be subtracted. The payment is reduced from $600 to approximately $241.
  • The quarterly bill for Home #2 will decrease to around $250, and estimated kWh sales of $106 will be subtracted. The payment is reduced from $600 to approximately $144.

In both cases, the return on investment improves when surplus solar energy is sold to your electricity provider. However, your power bills become even lower when you consume a large percentage of solar power.

How To Choose the Best Feed-in Tariff Provider?

You may be tempted to choose the electricity plan with the highest feed-in tariff available, but the answer is not so simple. Some providers will try to lure you with an attractive FIT, while charging a high tariff when you consume electricity from the grid. Unless you have solar batteries, you will likely depend on the grid on cloudy days and at night.

The best approach is estimating your quarterly bill after going solar as we did in the example above. A qualified solar company like Arkana Energy can analyse your previous bills, so you get a better idea of your consumption habits. Based on your actual consumption and the expected solar generation, you can pick the electricity plan that minimises your quarterly bills.

Want to find out more about how you can save on your electricity bill? Click here to request pricing.

New Solar Export Rules From the AEMC: How Do They Affect Solar Owners?

On 12 August 2021, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) completed its new rules on how power networks will compensate solar owners for surplus production. While there have been concerns that homeowners will be paid less, the new rules also create incentives for technologies like battery systems and electric vehicles.

Australia has become a global leader in solar energy. However, power networks have a technical problem that could slow down solar adoption:

  • According to the CSIRO, one in every four Australian homes now has solar panels.
  • However, many homes have minimal consumption around noon, and their solar generation is mostly sent to the grid.
  • Power grids were not designed to handle electricity flows in both directions, and they cannot always absorb the solar power coming from homes at noon – this can be compared to a traffic jam.

The new AEMC rules reduce the value of solar exports when the grid is congested. However, power companies will also introduce paid “solar export plans”, and some of them will reward homeowners for providing energy at times of high demand. The reform will be applied until July 2025, giving power networks and electricity consumers plenty of time to prepare.

How Solar Exports Change Under the New AEMC Rules

Benn Barr, AEMC Chief Executive, has clearly stated that all networks must have a basic free export service for solar owners. According to AEMC simulations, homeowners will still get about 90% of their current earnings from solar feed-in – without changing their consumption habits or choosing a paid export service.

However, the AEMC reform creates an opportunity to earn more, by taking advantage of plans that give incentives during certain hours:

  • As you might imagine, the best rates will not be paid at noon, since most homes with solar panels are already supplying power.
  • The best incentives can be expected after sunset, when there is no solar generation and home consumption reaches its peak.
  • Solar export plans will be subject to approval from the Australian Energy Regulator to ensure they benefit consumers, while preventing misleading plans.

If you already own a solar system with batteries you can benefit the most from storing the excess power you consume throughout the day for use in the evening or when the new export plans arrive in 2025. You can look for a plan that pays high incentives during peak demand hours, and use surplus solar generation to charge batteries at noon. When the export tariff to the grid reaches its highest value of the day, you can supply the stored energy or save that energy for later use in the evening, lowering your household power bills

To complement the earnings from a solar battery system, you can change energy habits to minimise power bills. Electrical devices such as storage water heaters can be programmed to only run when there is surplus solar energy, or when electricity providers charge their lowest tariffs – never during peak demand hours, unless it’s strictly necessary.

About Arkana Energy: 

At Arkana, we’re here to bring more positive energy into the world, pure and simple. It’s why we love solar so much – it reduces your power bills while helping repair the planet. So much positivity! But we don’t just do it through our products; we do it through our people too. 

We’re a family-run, family-owned business. In fact, we named Arkana after a farm that’s been in the family since the 1930s. Why name a modern business after an old farm? Because that farm symbolised what we wanted our business to be: a happy place built on fairness, integrity, and hard work. 

Arkana Energy is one of the top 10 solar installers in Queensland and New South Wales, according to Sunwiz. We have installed thousands of solar power and battery systems throughout Australia, receiving hundreds of 5-star reviews on Google and Facebook. 

How Do the STC Solar Financial Incentives Work?

Australia has many favorable conditions for solar power, which have helped the country become a global leader in renewable energy. Australia deployed 7 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar power in 2020, and nearly 2.7 GW were in the rooftop solar market. The abundance of sunshine makes solar panels more productive, and high electricity tariffs make their production more valuable – each kWh from solar panels is one kWh subtracted from your power bill.

The Clean Energy Regulator has played an important role in the Australian renewable energy industry, with two main incentive programs. The Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target focuses on larger projects, while the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme benefits smaller installations – including solar PV systems up to 100 kW. The SRES can be summarised as follows:

  • The total electricity production of your solar power system is estimated, considering the time period between its installation year and the end of 2030.
  • For every 1,000 kWh of estimated production, you get one Small-Scale Technology Certificate or STC.
  • Electricity retailers and other organisations that purchase large amounts of energy have a legal requirement to support renewables – this includes purchasing STCs annually.
  • The market price of STC is constantly changing based on supply and demand, but it has recently stayed at around $38-39.

As an example, a solar power system that produces 100,000 kWh between its installation year and 2030 gets 100 STCs. If they are sold at $39 each, this project gets an upfront incentive of $3,900 to help cover its installation costs (note these are just example figures to show you how the calculation works).

The Clean Energy Regulator has developed an STC calculator, where you can estimate your incentive when going solar. You simply need to input your postcode the planned solar capacity in kilowatts, and the expected installation date. The calculator will determine the STCs for the project, and you can multiply that number by $39 to estimate the financial incentive.

State and Territory Incentives for Solar Power in Australia

Since the STC incentive comes from the federal government, it is available for solar installations located anywhere in Australia. However, several states and territories have also developed local incentive programs, which can be added to STC rebates. The following are the main incentive programs from state and territory governments in 2021:

Solar Victoria offers solar panel incentives for homes and small businesses, and homes can also get solar water heater and battery incentives.

  • The home solar incentive is $1,400 as of July 2021, and it can be combined with an interest-free loan of the same amount.
  • The business incentive is available for solar power systems up to 30 kW. The rebate is $3,500 for the first 5,000 installations approved, and will then be reduced to $1,750.

South Australia’s Home Battery Scheme focuses on adding energy storage to solar power systems. The incentive is $300 per kWh for energy concession holders and $200 per kWh for other homes. In both cases, the maximum incentive is $3,000.

In New South Wales, the Empowering Homes program offers interest-free loans of up to $14,000 for new solar power systems with batteries and up to $9,000 for adding batteries to existing solar installations. The state also has the Solar for Low Income program, which installs 3-kW solar systems at zero cost for eligible homes.

In the Australian Capital Territory, the Next Gen Battery Storage program offers a rebate of $825 per kilowatt of battery output. The incentive covers up to 30 kW in residential systems and up to 50 kW in business-owned systems. The ACT Solar for Low Income is different from the program of the same name in NSW – it covers 50% of the cost of solar power systems, up to $2,500 per installation.

The Home and Business Battery Scheme provides $6,000 grants for solar panel + battery systems in the Northern Territory. The benefit is not only available for homes and businesses, but also for non-profit and community organisations. To be eligible for the incentive, the installation must have a battery capacity of at least 7 kWh.

Calculating Solar Incentives in Australia: A Brief Example

To demonstrate how STCs and other solar rebate programs make home solar power more affordable, we will calculate the total incentive for three system sizes in three locations:

  • 6.6 kW, 8 kW and 10 kW
  • Brisbane (QLD), Sydney(NSW) and Melbourne (VIC)

Larger installations get more STCs, since the incentive depends on the estimated kWh production between the installation year and 2030. Solar panel systems also get more STCs in sunnier locations, since the kWh output per panel is increased.

Australia is divided into four zones for STC calculation purposes, where Zone 1 gets the most sunshine and Zone 4 gets the least. The number of STCs per kilowatt of solar capacity changes depending on the zone:

  • Zone 1 = 1.622 STC per kW
  • Zone 2 = 1.536 STC per kW
  • Zone 3 = 1.382 STC per kW
  • Zone 4 = 1.185 STC per kW

Brisbane and Sydney are both in Zone 3, which means the STC incentive per kW of solar capacity is the same. However, the incentive is decreased in Melbourne, being located in Zone 4. The following table summarizes the STCs for the three system sizes in the three locations, and the corresponding cash incentive at $38 per STC.

System Size (kW) 6.6 kW 8 kW 10 kW
Brisbane STC – Zone 3 91 110 138
Brisbane Incentive $3,458 $4,180 $5,244
Sydney STC  – Zone 3 91 110 138
Sydney Incentive $3,458 $4,180 $5,244
Melbourne STC  – Zone 3 78 94 118
Melbourne Incentive $2,964 from STCs

+$1,400 Solar Victoria

$4,364 Total

$3,572 from STCs

+$1,400 Solar Victoria

$4,972 Total

$4,484 from STCs

+$1,400 Solar Victoria

$5,884 Total

Since Melbourne is located in Zone 4, the STC incentive is smaller than in Brisbane and Sydney. However, after adding the $1,400 from the Solar Victoria program, the total incentive is actually higher in Melbourne.

In this example, the solar installations in Melbourne would also be eligible for an interest-free loan of $1,400. The installations in Sydney would be eligible for interest-free loans of up to $14,000 from the Empowering Homes program if they include a solar battery.

In conclusion, incentive programs are one of the driving forces behind the growth of solar power in Australia. STCs can be claimed anywhere in the country, you get more of them in sunnier locations, and each STC reduces your upfront cost by around $38. The outlook is even better when your state or territory also offers incentives, since they can be combined with the STC rebate.

However, not all solar power systems are eligible for incentive programs. To get the STC incentive, you must use solar products in the Clean Energy Council approved list, and you must hire CEC Accredited Installers. A simple way to meet both requirements at once is working with a CEC Approved Solar Retailer like Arkana Energy. 

Want to learn more? Click the button below to Request Pricing in your postcode today.


*information is accurate at the time of writing.  Published 9 August 2021.

Solar Batteries: Your Guide to Energy Storage

There are many reasons why going solar is an excellent investment for Australian homes and businesses. Local electricity providers charge some of the highest tariffs in the world, and solar panels can greatly reduce your power bills. Australia is also a very sunny country, which makes solar power systems very productive.


However, you can achieve even better results by installing solar batteries along with your panels, since you can store energy for nighttime or for cloudy days. You can also use a solar battery as a backup power source when there is a blackout. Solar panels are great on their own, but they cannot deliver electricity when there is no sunlight – you need a solar battery for this.


How Does a Solar Battery Work?


The basic principle of a solar battery is very simple. When your solar panels are producing more electricity than what your home or business is consuming, the difference is stored in the battery system. You can then use that electricity when your solar power system is not generating, instead of consuming expensive energy from the power network.


For example, you can use the energy stored in a solar battery to power your lights and home appliances at night, even when there is no sunlight. Without batteries, you would depend on your electricity provider to keep these devices running at night. Solar panels alone can greatly reduce your power bill, but a battery system makes you even more independent from the grid.

The Benefits of a Combined Solar and Battery Solution


Solar panels from quality brands can generate electricity for more than 25 years, while their payback period is often less than 5 years. During that time, they can help you save thousands of dollars in power bills. The only limitation of solar panels is not being able to provide electricity all the time, since they depend on sunlight. However, this issue disappears when you install a combined solar and battery solution.


With a combined system, your solar panels will continue to generate electricity like they normally do, but you can store part of that energy for any time of the day. You can also use more solar panels to increase your surplus production, ensuring that the batteries are always charged fully.


  • Normally, the surplus electricity produced by solar panels is sent to the grid, and you get a credit in your next power bill. However, the amount that electricity providers pay for each kilowatt-hour is much smaller than what they charge you!
  • On the other hand, when electricity is stored in solar batteries, you get to save the full value of that electricity.


There are some electricity tariffs with a higher kilowatt-hour price during peak hours, which are the times of the day when the grid has the highest consumption. If you have a combined solar and battery solution, you can use the stored electricity precisely when the highest tariffs are being applied – this maximises your savings.





Types of Solar Batteries in Australia


Most batteries that are used with solar panels can be classified into two main types: lead-acid and lithium-ion. However, most leading brands are now focusing on lithium-ion batteries, since they can store energy more efficiently, while lasting much longer. While lead-acid batteries may need a replacement in less than two years, there are now lithium batteries that can last for more than a decade. The Tesla Powerwall is a well-known example of a lithium-ion battery.


At Arkana, we only work with leading battery providers like Tesla, LG and Alpha ESS.


Things to Consider When Buying a Battery


Ideally, you should have a solar battery of the right size. A battery that is too small will only be able to power your home for a short time, before you are forced to use electricity from the grid again. However, a battery that is too large represents an unnecessary cost. If you have a battery with enough storage capacity for your nighttime needs, you can use solar electricity 24/7 – even when the sun is not shining.


Another important consideration before buying a battery is the size of your solar panel system. When you use solar panels by themselves, the system size is limited by surplus production. Once you start sending a lot of electricity to the grid, increasing the size of the solar array doesn’t make much sense – you are paid low for surplus production.


On the other hand, when there is a battery to store all the surplus production, you can use a larger solar array because all the electricity stays at home. There is no need to sell your extra kilowatt-hours to the grid for a low tariff.


How to Make the Most Of Your Battery Investment


Going solar is an excellent investment in Australia, unless you happen to live in a property that is covered by shadows all day long. However, with the abundance of sunshine and the high electricity prices, your return on investment is assured. When using solar batteries, the following are some recommendations that can help you save more:


  • Make sure you have a properly-sized battery: As mentioned above, a small one will not be able to power your home appliances for much time, while an oversized one will be more expensive than necessary.


  • Use the battery to avoid peak electricity tariffs: Since the energy in a battery can be used at any time, it makes sense to consume it when the electricity provider is charging the highest kWh prices or peak tariffs. This will maximise your savings, since you are avoiding the most expensive electricity from the grid.


  • Make sure you make the most of any battery incentives available. In some parts of Australia, there are incentive programs for solar batteries. These can help you with either cash payments or financing options, which help you pay for batteries, improving your return on investment. 


Choosing a Battery Supplier – How to Buy Well


When purchasing a solar battery, you must make sure you get a product from a high-quality brand with a solid warranty. This will ensure high performance, and you will also get a free replacement if something goes wrong. You should definitely avoid low-quality batteries: you will get low performance, they will only last a short time, and they can even start a fire.


Other than having a good product, you must also make sure you work with a trusted installer like Arkana Energy. This way you will get a professional installation, combined with good customer service and technical support. When you purchase a high-quality solar battery, and the installation is completed by professionals, you can expect the best possible results.


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