Solar energy is a game-changer for many homeowners. The ability to harness this abundant and sustainable energy with solar technology helps free many from the burden of ever-rising energy costs. Storing solar produced energy grants more energy independence, but it may not be for everyone. Solar energy storage adds more moving parts, costs, and intricacies homeowners must manage with their residential solar system. If that turns you away, your standard grid-tie system will have less involvement and use the utilities’ grid as a battery backup. You still will have to deal with the provider and have less autonomy, but net metering is a good option for many residents.
Before we write off a battery backup storage system, let’s get into the pros and cons and how to make an informed choice.
Pros and Cons
Let’s get any drawbacks out of the way first. We always like ending on a positive note.
Cons to Battery Storage
- Higher upfront costs than other residential solar energy systems
- More complexity in estimates to get the backup load right for your needs
- More parts that need yearly inspection and/or maintenance
- Puts you into a Time-of-Use rate plan with your electrical utility company which can result in higher electric bills if your solar system is not sized properly to your electrical usage. However, the Tesla Powerwall can combat this by intelligently using stored energy during peak hours.
Pros to Battery Storage
- More incentives to recoup the costs of the system
- 24/7 backup energy ready for emergency and nighttime needs that seamlessly keeps your house and its appliances running
- Great energy independence from utility rate changes; i.e., no more bills
- Can operate in tandem with a grid-tie system for greater efficiency and energy assurance
- Very low maintenance
- Excellent customer service support with any troubleshooting, if needed
- Weather-resistant and family-friendly, safe to be around kids and animals anywhere in or outside your home
- Customize system settings digitally and in real-time for maximum savings and personalization
- Decreases your carbon footprint more and become net-zero users
- Noiseless backup energy, unlike generators
Increasing outages and rate hikes have become the norm for Californian residents. Residential solar systems even the playing field but adding storage completely tips the balance to the energy users’ side.
Is storage right for you?
Despite all the advantages, storage may not be right for everyone. If you don’t experience many outages, maybe 1-2 short-term ones per year, or want to be conscious about your energy use, then you may want to get a grid-tie system and be done with it. It may not be worth the cost of a backup battery system for individuals with those two types of situations.
However, if you find yourself in the following situations, battery storage is probably a worthwhile investment:
- Your area is prone to natural disasters
- You experience frequent outages due to an unreliable power grid
- Own critical/medical equipment or appliances that must stay on no matter what
- You experience ever-increasing electricity rates and fees from your energy provider
- Want to reduce seasonal and/or daily peak costs in your electric bill
- Decrease your dependency on fossil fuels and lower your carbon footprint more
Usually, a grid-tie solar system is enough for homeowners, but the above scenarios put energy users into the category of those who need solar energy storage.
Selecting the type of battery you want to use is entirely up to you. You may have an installer who chooses a specific type for all customers or offers multiple brands. Battery backup technology has improved over the years and is drastically changing today. Therefore, worrying about if you should choose lead-acid, saltwater, or lithium-ion may be a moot point. Battery companies will have their products’ capabilities to power storage capacity, lifespan, etc., listed for you. You don’t have to be as savvy and informed as you did 10-15 years ago. You can simply look at the brands’ specs.
Tesla, and its Powerwall, is one of the leaders in battery storage. You can’t go wrong with a Tesla battery. A Tesla Powerwall generally stores 13.5 kWh and comes with a 10-year warranty.
Can I do it later?
Investing in battery backup is an investment that can help you a lot faster the sooner you get it. However, another beauty of solar power technology is you can add to it. If you already have a system or are thinking about adding one, you can add your battery storage after the fact. It may cause some complexities, but you can plan for those when you are initially installing your system. With the sleek and compact designs of a Tesla battery, most of the challenges are null and void. It is becoming easier to add solar energy storage, which is just another check in the plus column.
No matter what you do, having the insights of great professionals, like Option One Solar, is smart to get the right and personalized information you need to make an informed decision. They have experts ready to assist you and get you up-and-running worry-free.