Can I add a Solar Battery to my Existing Solar Installation?
With solar batteries becoming more affordable, an increasing number of home and business owners are considering adding solar batteries to their existing PV systems.
As of right now, more than 600 000 Queensland homes and businesses have rooftop solar panels helping drive down their power bills and carbon footprint. It is pretty clear that Australians have welcomed solar energy with open arms and slowly but surely, the idea of living entirely off solar energy and not energy supplied from the conventional grid is becoming more realistic and more affordable. However, there are a couple extra steps and components required to help home and business owners fulfil their goal of energy independence.
WHY WOULD YOU NEED A SOLAR BATTERY?
According to the Australian Energy Market Commission, Australian households typically pay between 22-35 cents per kWh of energy imported from the grid and this number is steadily on the rise. While solar energy consumers consume far less energy from the grid they still pay far more money for this energy than they receive from selling their surplus back to the grid. Currently, the average feed-in tariff sits around 5-8c per kWh which far from counteracts the cost of grid-exported energy when your solar system is not producing (e.g. evening & cloudy whether). This issue combined with the rising cost of electricity limits the amount of savings homes and businesses can save from a solar installation. So how do we combat this?
Adding a solar battery to your home or business can significantly increases your consumption of solar energy and it can even completely negate the need to export from the grid. Solar panels create most of their energy during the middle of the day when the majority of homeowners aren’t home to use it. Usually, these homeowners have to buy back that energy they exported to the grid that day back later in the evening to match their energy consumption. However, with a solar battery, this rise in evening energy uptake is covered by your stored, excess energy held in your storage system. According to a recent report by the Climate Council looking into solar battery storage found a battery storage system can almost double a household’s self-consumption of solar PV. This means a lot less energy from the conventional grid.
CAN I ADD SOLAR STORAGE TO MY ALREADY EXISTING SYSTEM?
While most people who are interested in solar batteries include them in their initial solar installation, it is possible to add a solar storage system to your existing system. There are a couple things to cover before you plug in that battery pack as PV systems capable of partnering with battery storage require some special wiring and components to work correctly.
The first thing you will need to consider is your current solar inverter. These days, hybrid solar inverters are the most commonplace technology in standard installations and have the ability to supply AC power to the home as well as store DC power directly to your solar battery. However, standard solar inverters (commonly used in older systems) do not feature the same capabilities. If you have an older system that includes a standard solar inverter you may need to either:
- Replace the inverter for a hybrid inverter.
- Install an additional inverter to connect your current system to the battery.
- Install a battery with inbuilt inverter capabilities.
As well as this, you will also need to consider your current system size. Take a look at your solar monitoring. Are you already consuming the vast majority of what your system is producing? If that is the case it may be wise to first upgrade your system size and monitor your savings from there. However, if your system generates more than enough solar power for your energy needs during the day it may be wise to invest in a storage system.
ARE SOLAR BATTERIES EXPENSIVE?
Over the last few years there have been huge developments in energy storage and they are quickly becoming a much more affordable and viable option in the market. As a general rule of thumb current prices suggest budgeting for around $1000 per kWh of storage and while this still may be slightly out of budget for some, these prices are changing rapidly. Battery costs fell by 14% each year from 2007 to 2014 and even more dramatic cost reductions are expected in the coming years. A report from the Climate Council predicts that half of all households in Australia with adopt solar storage systems as the market grows to $24 billion. With several battery companies such as Tesla and BYD rapidly upscaling production for lithium ion battery options, this number is predicted to drop even further in future.
DOES A SOLAR BATTERY MAKE SENSE FOR YOU?
Installing a solar battery is a sizeable investment, so you must consider all of your options and energy goals before you take the plunge. Ask yourself these questions: Has your installer informed you of the payback period? Is being energy independent important to you? Do you want to consume more of the solar energy your system produces? Is the idea of lowering your carbon footprint something you're interested in? Addressing these questions to discover your driving motivation behind installing a solar battery can help you determine the best optimised smart energy solution for your home or business.
Making the switch to clean, reliable energy is a sizeable investment for any Australian home or business. With countless considerations; system size, design, components and more, it can be easy to begin to feel overwhelmed. We can help! Springers Solar provides quality components with proven performance, backed by industry-leading warranties, and dedicated after-sales support. With 19 years experience designing, installing and servicing solar energy systems and solar batteries we know what performs for Australian homes and businesses. We take pride in only installing premium components with proven performance and are sure to exclusively align our business with manufacturers with the same history of excellence. We are a Premium Certified Tesla Installer, an LG Platinum Solar installer and a Fronius service partner.
If you’d like to learn more about choosing the right solar battery for your home or business, click here.
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