Making the most of a battery

Making the most of a battery

Battery storage plays a pivotal role in enhancing the benefits of a solar system for homeowners. By seamlessly combining solar panels with batteries, homeowners can store excess solar energy, ensuring uninterrupted power during both day and night, thus optimising their green energy investments.

How batteries work

A battery operates by storing energy in a chemical form and then converting it back into electrical energy when required. Within the solar context, this dynamic allows homeowners to capture and store excess energy generated during the sunlit hours, making it available for use whenever necessary.

One of the major benefits of integrating a battery into a solar system is the significant potential for cost savings. With a battery, homeowners have the flexibility to utilise solar energy even during times when the sun isn’t shining. This proves especially beneficial for those households that may not be active energy consumers during daylight hours, or for those with electric vehicles that require charging during the night. Moreover, having a battery provides an added layer of assurance as a reliable backup during unexpected grid outages.

Charging a solar battery is a no-fuss process. As your solar panels soak up sunlight and convert it into energy, any surplus not immediately used by your home gets directed to the battery. Once the battery is full this excess energy is then sent to the grid to utilise feed-in tariffs.

Understanding On-Grid vs Off-Grid Systems

Solar energy and battery storage solutions can be broadly categorized into on-grid and off-grid systems, and the distinction between them plays a pivotal role in how homeowners will interact with the broader electricity network.

An on-grid system maintains a connection to the local electricity grid, offering a flexible approach to energy consumption. By being on the grid, homeowners have the opportunity to feed any surplus solar energy back, potentially earning credits or even revenue. However, this flexibility comes with its own set of considerations. While it provides a backup during periods when solar energy production is low, homeowners might find themselves more reliant on the grid, which can be a drawback especially if there are export limitations set by the local authorities on how much solar energy can be returned to the grid.

Conversely, an off-grid system offers homeowners complete independence from the local electricity grid. Such setups are particularly valuable in remote locations where grid access might be limited or non-existent. One of the notable benefits of being off-grid is the predictability in energy costs, given there’s no dependency on fluctuating grid prices. However, this independence comes with its own set of responsibilities. The initial setup cost for an off-grid system might be higher, necessitating a larger battery storage to ensure a consistent energy supply. Moreover, the onus of ensuring there’s always enough energy, especially during extended periods of low solar production, rests solely on the homeowner.

In deciding between these two setups, homeowners should weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each, considering their specific location, energy needs, and the state of local grid infrastructure.

How a battery can maximise a solar investment

While solar panels are powerful providers of sustainable energy, pairing them with a battery boosts their potential significantly. Beyond mere storage, a battery serves as a strategic tool to elevate your solar investment. Here’s how the right use of a battery can enhance your solar returns.

  • Maximising self-consumption: Batteries mean less reliance on the grid and allow homeowners to store surplus solar energy for use during nighttime or overcast days, resulting in energy bill savings.
  • Low Energy Price Capture: By charging batteries during off-peak hours or free promotional intervals, homeowners can capitalise on lower energy costs during peak times.
  • Energy Trading: In regions with fluctuating feed-in tariffs that surge during high-demand periods, batteries enable homeowners to strategically release stored energy, effectively capitalising on price differences. Find out more here.
  • Solar Export Limit Maximisation: If local regulations limit how much solar you can export to the grid, batteries can capture energy that would otherwise be wasted, ensuring optimal utilisation of all generated solar energy.
  • Reduced Energy Losses: By consuming energy on-site, you bypass losses from long-distance grid transmission.

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How to make the most of a battery investment

By aligning a solar batteries usage with peak times and ensuring regular maintenance, you can maximise its performance and savings. Here are some ways you can ensure you get the most from your battery investment.

  • Discharge During Peak Rates: Familiarise yourself with peak pricing intervals from your energy retailer. By programming your battery to discharge during these times, you can realise significant cost reductions on your energy bills.
  • Capitalise On Off-Peak & Promos: Coordinate your battery charging to coincide with off-peak and promotional offerings from your energy provider. This strategy further magnifies the financial advantages of solar storage.
  • Join A Virtual Power Plant (VPP): Enrolment in VPP programs can offer homeowners the opportunity to earn by sharing their stored energy across a communal energy network. Find out more here.
  • Battery Discharge Management: Minimising deep discharges, such as draining the battery below 20% of its capacity, can prolong the battery’s longevity while optimising cost savings from its stored energy.
  • Routine Care & Updates: Regular maintenance, combined with timely software updates from manufacturers, keeps batteries at peak performance.
  • Keep It Cool: A well-ventilated battery spot ensures it doesn’t overheat, preserving both its efficiency and lifespan.
  • Backup Reserve Setting: Consider setting a backup energy reserve in your battery. This ensures you always have a certain percentage of stored energy available for unexpected power outages or high-demand scenarios.
  • Optimising Solar Panel Efficiency: Regularly clean and maintain solar panels to ensure they are generating maximum energy. The more efficient your panels are, the more energy there is to store in the battery.

With a strategic approach to battery usage and care, homeowners can significantly enhance their solar ROI. By tapping into the full potential of battery storage and solar systems, Australians are not only paving the way to substantial savings but also championing a sustainable energy future.

Make the most of your battery by joining a Virtual Power Plant (VPP)

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