Are you thinking about adding battery backup to your solar system?
You should be!
Adding battery backup to your solar system is like putting sprinkles on a sundae, and the benefits are even sweeter.
Did you know battery backup is the only way to keep your lights on when the grid goes down?
And, here’s the cherry on top: battery backup also increases your everyday energy independence by reducing your dependence on the grid.
Plus, if you plan for a solar plus storage system from the start, you can save thousands of dollars in design fees down the line.
But if your solar system already cost you a small fortune, you’re probably wondering: is battery backup really worth it?
Deciding if battery backup is right for you has never been easier with this ultimate beginner’s guide, which covers all the basics and benefits of battery backup for solar.
Read on to see how battery backup can revolutionize your relationship with the grid and put you in control of your power.
What Is Solar Battery Backup?
Solar battery backup involves adding a solar battery to your system to store extra energy produced by your panels when the sun is high for later use when the sun goes down.
Your stored energy can be used as a “backup” in the event of an outage or just to offset your energy costs and production.
Adding battery backup to your solar system can boost your energy independence, power you through outages, save you money on your utility bill and even increase the value of your home.
Changing Your Relationship with the Grid
Without a solar battery, your solar system is grid-tied, meaning you’re completely dependent on your utility’s power grid. Here’s what that means for your solar use and production:
When you’re producing excess power, it goes back to the grid, oftentimes earning you credits with your utility company through a process called net metering. But, when you aren’t producing enough power, you have to pull from the electrical grid to meet your energy needs.
You’re also at the mercy of your utility company when it comes to blackouts and power outages, which can leave you without heat, air conditioning, or even running water.
But, with a solar plus storage system, you can rely on the extra energy you’ve stored when the grid goes down, or even just during times when your panels aren’t producing enough; like on cloudy days or nights.
It’s important to note a solar battery isn’t enough to take you fully “off the grid”—most solar batteries only have enough storage to power your home for 10-12 hours—but still offers owners more freedom and flexibility.
Can I Add Battery Backup to My Solar System?
Adding battery backup to your existing solar system is certainly doable, but it’s best for your wallet to work with a solar installer that offers solar plus storage in the first place.
That way, your system is “storage ready,” ensuring your battery will be compatible with your inverter and meet your system’s needs.
If you didn’t plan your solar system with storage in mind, you might need to replace your inverter or opt for a less efficient AC coupled solution.
In an AC-coupled solution, some energy is lost in the conversion from direct current (DC) power produced by your panels to alternating current (AC) power needed to run your home.
Planning a solar plus storage system with your solar installer is the easiest way to avoid major expenses down the line, like a new inverter or redesign and rewiring.
How Much Does It Cost to Add Battery Backup?
Depending on if your system is “storage ready” (see above), you may need to make a few costly changes to prepare your system for storage.
You can expect most solar batteries to cost around $5,000-$7,000, or $400-750/kWh, not including installation.
However, we can expect the cost of solar batteries to follow a similar trend to the cost of going solar, which has dropped 60% in just the last 10 years due to advances in technology.
Getting a backup battery installed is nowhere near as costly as your panels—there’s a lot less labor involved and no roof risk—but it still needs to be done by a licensed electrician.
With a storage ready system, you can expect your backup battery installation to cost under $1,000.
What Are the Benefits of Solar Battery Backup?
When you have solar battery backup, you can use more of the power you produced, power through outages, and save on your utility bill by using stored energy during peak demand times.
Let’s take a closer look at the three best benefits of solar battery backup below:
1. Use More of Your Power
Adding solar battery backup to your system allows you to maximize your day-to-day use of the electricity produced by your panels.
For instance, you can use the energy stored in your battery during evenings and nights when your panels are no longer producing enough energy to meet your needs.
Once your battery is fully charged, the excess energy is still sent back to the grid, so you’re not missing out on extra incentives like credits.
Additionally, you’ll only pull from the grid once your battery is depleted, saving you money on your electricity bill.
2. Power Through Outages and Blackouts
When a power outage or blackout occurs, your solar system is automatically disconnected from the grid to protect utility workers who may be doing repairs.
If you don’t have battery backup, that means your panels will stop producing and you’ll be left without power.
On the other hand, in the event of an outage, your battery backup will automatically switch on, keeping your panels producing and providing you with a safety net of stored energy.
Additionally, most solar batteries are designed to work with critical load panels, an electrical panel that ensures only necessary appliances are powered in emergencies, extending your energy and protecting your battery.
If you have frequent power outages and blackouts in your area, battery backup is definitely something you should consider when designing your solar system.
3. Avoid Pesky Time-of-Use Rates
Time-of-use (TOU) rates are adjusted rates implemented by your utility company to account for the difference in energy supply and demand throughout the day.
Many states have adopted time-of-use rates to encourage customers to use more energy when it’s cheaper to make, and less energy during peak times when it’s in high demand.
TOU rates can vary by time of day, day type (weekday, weekend, or holiday), and season, but the result is still the same: you pay a higher rate to use energy during peak demand hours.
Without battery backup, TOU rates may make you think twice about when you do your daily tasks, like running your dryer or dishwasher.
But, with battery backup, you have a better option: simply switch to using your stored energy during the afternoons and evenings when electricity rates are at their highest.
Key Points of Solar Battery Backup
In this beginner’s guide to battery backup, we covered the basics and benefits of solar plus storage systems. Let’s quickly recap everything you need to know about battery backup:
- Solar batteries store your energy for later use
- Without a solar battery, you rely completely on your utility company’s power grid
- You can add a backup battery to your system, but choosing an installer with solar plus storage in the first place can save you money down the line
- Solar batteries typically cost between $5,000-$7,000 and need to be installed by an electrician
- A solar battery can help you maximize your day-to-day use of the electricity your panels produce
- During blackouts and power outages, solar batteries provide a safety net of stored energy
- Avoid time-of-use rates during peak demand hours by switching to stored energy