Energy storage technology has existed for quite some time, but the use of solar batteries in residential energy systems is a relatively new development. Although home energy storage prices have fallen significantly in recent years, solar batteries still have a decently hefty price tag and do not make economic sense for every homeowner. However, a solar-plus-storage system can be beneficial in some situations.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether or not solar battery storage is the right fit for you and your home.
Are you required to pay time-of-use electricity rates?
If your utility company charges time-of-use rates, this means that the amount you pay for electricity will vary depending on the time of day. During hours when electricity demand is high, typically in the evening and at night, you’ll pay more for power than you would when electricity demand is low, typically during the late morning and early afternoon.
If you are subject to time-of-use billing, a solar battery can be a beneficial investment for you because during the daytime, your solar system will be producing enough energy to both power your home and charge up your battery. Then at nighttime, you’ll be able to use the energy stored in the battery to power your home rather than having to pull from the grid at the higher time-of-use rate.
Does your utility require demand charges?
Some utilities charge customers an additional fee that’s dependent upon how much electricity they use. The fee could be determined by the amount of power used when total electricity demand is high, or it may encompass all electricity used during a month.
If you’re required to pay demand charges to your utility, installing home energy storage can be beneficial by helping you to avoid a high demand fee by pulling from the grid less often and utilizing energy stored in your solar battery instead.
Do you live in a state with net metering?
In states where true net metering exists, customers will receive a credit equal to the amount the utility charges for traditional electricity for each kilowatt-hour of energy their solar panels produce and send back to the grid.
If you have access to true net metering, a solar battery may not be worth it for you from a financial standpoint because you’ll be able to freely give and take energy from the grid at no additional cost.
Are you susceptible to frequent power outages?
For safety reasons, all standard grid-tied solar systems have an automatic shut-off switch that will turn off the system during a power outage. This means that those who have a standard solar energy system without battery backup will still lose power when the grid goes down. However, when a battery is added to the setup, the home can still run off of the energy stored up in the event of a blackout.
If you experience regular power outages and would like to continue to have power when the grid is down, or if you’re interested in the peace of mind that comes along with energy backup, a solar battery may be worth the cost.
Do you want solar storage to take you off the grid?
Many homeowners are interested in the idea of going completely off the grid and having the ability to operate totally independent of their electric utility, and some view solar batteries as the means to make it happen. However, on their own, most solar batteries on the market today do not have the capacity to store the energy necessary to keep a home running throughout the entire year.
If going 100 percent off the grid is your goal, solar batteries likely aren’t the best solution unless you have ample space available and are prepared to invest tens of thousands dollars in a large multi-battery storage setup.
Sarah Hancock educates consumers about the workings of the solar industry to help people make decisions that benefit both their own interests and the environment. Connect with her on the Best Company Solar Blog and on Twitter. Read all of Sarah’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.
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