Solar panels have become increasingly popular in recent years. Around 970,000 UK households are using the technology to not only reduce their reliance on the National Grid but to lower their carbon emissions.
With energy bills set to rise by 54% when the new energy price cap is introduced in April, installing solar panels is an even more attractive proposition.
If you already have solar panels or are considering getting them installed on your roof you may want to invest in solar batteries as well. Solar panel battery storage will allow you to store any excess energy your solar panels generate during the day and to use it when your panels are not producing electricity at night.
What is a solar battery storage system?
Pairing solar batteries with solar panels is a relatively new practice, but an effective one. Unless you and your household use electricity every minute of every day you will have solar power that goes unused. Typically, you’ll lose 50% of the electricity produced by your panels if you don’t have a solar battery as your unused electricity will go straight back to the grid. Solar batteries enable you to store any surplus energy for use later, reducing your reliance on electricity supplied by the National Grid even further, cutting your energy bills and lowering your carbon footprint.
Solar battery storage is a type of energy storage technology that homeowners can use in conjunction with their solar panels to store electricity gathered during the daytime. This energy can then be used when needed, for example, at night when the sun isn’t shining.
The two most commonly found chemical materials in batteries used for solar panel systems are lithium-iron and lead-acid. Though lithium-iron batteries are more expensive they still enjoy a bigger market share due to their longer lifespan and higher usable capacity.
A solar battery will typically last you 10-15 years which means over the 25-year lifespan of most solar systems you will need to buy two batteries which effectively doubles the cost.
However, you may find the benefits far outweigh the pain of the initial costs. Here are the key reasons for choosing to invest in battery storage alongside your solar system:
- You can maximise the solar energy used at home. By storing energy for later use you can save more money.
- You can be more independent from the National Grid which gives you better protection from energy price rises.
- You can significantly lower your energy costs.
- You can be sure that more of the electricity you use at home is zero-carbon as many renewable tariffs are not as green as they seem.
- You can earn money by selling stored energy to the grid.
- You have protection from power cuts.
- You can take advantage of off-peak charging by signing up for a time-of-use tariff which means you can store energy when it’s cheap and avoid importing when it’s expensive.
Why combine solar panels with battery storage?
If you have your own solar panels, your energy bills will be reduced due to your energy self-consumption. This is because it is cheaper to use the electricity your solar PV has generated directly at your home rather than purchasing it through an energy company.
If you have a solar PV system and are not at home during the day to use the energy produced by the panels, then a battery will help you use that energy later on, cutting your electricity bills.
A battery is the right decision for many people, but you don’t need to take our word for it, as Which? Conducted a survey by 119 solar battery owners in May 2019, with almost 75% of those asked stating that battery storage has helped them save money on electricity to a great extent or some extent.
What is self-consumption?
Self-consumption is intrinsically tied to the concept and functionality of solar panels. One of the main aims of solar panels is to help homeowners become self-sufficient in electricity production.
When the sun is shining during the daytime, you can meet your consumption needs by using your household appliances. Without a battery storage system, when night-time comes, and your solar panels have clocked off for the day, you will return to being dependent on energy suppliers for all of your needs.
Batteries solve this issue by storing excess energy for use when your panels cannot generate any green energy.
How much does the “average” home battery cost?
It’s important to consider what size of battery you will need. If your battery capacity is too small you won’t be able to store much electricity and you’ll end up using an unnecessary amount of electricity from the grid. You should consider installing a battery with a bigger capacity if you live in a large house.
The cost of a solar battery generally ranges between £1,200 and £6,000, depending on the battery’s quality, capacity, and lifespan.
Of course, the larger your solar battery, the more electricity you’ll be able to store, and the more money you’ll be able to save.
Storage systems can be space demanding
Some high-capacity solar batteries are about the size of a small kitchen fridge, so be ready to give over some room for one of these things – especially if the model can only be located indoors.
You need to pay extra to have backup functionality included
Many more economical and low-cost batteries will not be fitted with a backup power function if you experience a power outage. However, when accepting the Dorset Electrical Solutions personal recommendation, this can be discussed with the installer and can be added to your package at the best cost possible.
You could also provide your inverter with a separate circuit to which you can connect devices with low consumption so that you still have lighting, for example, in the event of a power failure.
You can retrofit existing solar PV systems with a battery storage system
It’s not a problem if you already have solar panels at home; you can easily add a solar battery to an existing solar PV system.
The solar battery must be either AC-coupled or DC-coupled when installed, depending on the type of inverter used by your solar panels.
The solar battery must be AC-coupled if your PV system includes a microinverter. This is the less expensive of the two solutions (because you won’t have to replace the inverter), and the installation is simple.
However, battery storage retrofits cost more – Batteries added to existing solar PV systems are subject to 20% VAT while batteries installed at the same time as solar panels are subject to 5% VAT.
Is investing in a solar battery storage system a good idea?
Having covered all of the points, if you already have a solar PV system or consider having one installed, it may make sense for you to get a solar battery storage system. Read more about battery storage installation.
Using Dorset Electrical Solutions makes it possible to have these systems installed or retrofitted at the best price possible to maximise your energy savings and gain higher levels of autonomy.
You can sell your surplus energy back to the National Grid via the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) which is a government-backed initiative that requires energy suppliers with 150,000 customers or more to pay ‘small scale generators’ for low-carbon electricity. The maximum you can receive currently is 5.5p per kWh (offered by Octopus Energy).
While electricity is at least 18.9p per kWh and soon to be much higher, you’ll save more money by simply storing your surplus energy in your solar battery to use later. Higher grid electricity prices make storing your own energy in solar batteries much more worthwhile. You can lower your energy costs significantly by charging the solar battery during off-peak periods and discharging it during peak hours. The amount you save by paying less to your utility company can serve towards reducing your battery system costs.
Contact us to discuss which battery storage option would suit your household the best.