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.
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.