Solar power still remains one of the best sources of power. Since solar batteries use solar power, that also makes them one of the best batteries to use. In this guide, we’ll talk about solar batteries and how they work. If you are interested in finding more about solar batteries, this is the guide you should stick to.
What is a Solar Battery?
A solar battery is a device that you can add to your solar power system to store the excess electricity generated by your solar panels.
You can then use that stored energy to power your home at times when your solar panels don’t generate enough electricity, including nights, cloudy days, and during power outages.
The point of a solar battery is to help you use more of the solar energy you’re creating. If you don’t have battery storage, any excess electricity from solar power goes to the grid, which means you’re generating power and providing it to other people without taking full advantage of the electricity your panels create first.
How do solar batteries work?
With a typical grid-tied solar panel system, any time your solar panels produce more electricity than your home is using, the extra electricity is sent to the grid. In most states, your utility will give you some sort of value for that electricity through a program called net metering.
When you install a solar battery, you can store that excess solar electricity instead of sending it back to the grid. Then, you get to use the stored energy later in the day, when your solar panels aren’t producing enough electricity to meet your home’s energy needs.
Benefits of Using Solar Batteries
Independence from fossil fuels
When you install a solar battery, you reduce your reliance on your power company. This is fantastic news, especially if you reside in a region prone to blackouts. Even if your neighbors’ electricity goes out, a solar battery will keep your lights on and your phones charged.
When the power is out, solar panels normally cease producing electricity to prevent feedback to the grid. When you add a battery to your solar system, your solar panels continue to power your home and charge your batteries even when there is a power outage. A solar battery provides you peace of mind in knowing that even if the electricity goes out, your power will remain on.
Lower your carbon impact.
Using solar energy without a home battery means you’ll ultimately have to rely on the grid, which is often powered by fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, accounts for nearly 90% of Australia’s electrical generation. That’s a lot of filthy energy, on top of a hefty electricity bill.
If being green is your primary motivation for installing a solar system, combining it with energy storage is a fantastic approach to ensure that your home’s carbon impact is reduced.
Source of backup power
Solar batteries offer backup power in the event of a power loss. Solar batteries, on the other hand, do not require fuel and do not make any noise, unlike conventional generators, which are commonly used during power outages. Instead, you may rest easy knowing that your solar system will replenish the battery whenever the power is restored.
Savings on your electric bill
Installing a solar battery can also help you save money on your power bill. However, the amount you can save varies depending on the type of net metering provided by your provider.
Net metering allows you to receive a credit on your electric bill for any extrasolar electricity you transmit to the grid, which may be used to offset part of your future energy bills. If your utility offers full-retail net metering, adding a solar battery makes little economic sense.
If your utility charges by the hour, a solar battery makes more economical sense. The price of power fluctuates based on the time of day using time-of-use pricing. When you have a battery, you may choose to use your stored energy when power is most expensive, allowing you to save more money on your electric bill.
Improved Energy Security
Solar battery solutions enable your house to be more energy robust. Battery systems can power important components of your house for hours, even if the grid goes down. This is especially handy if you live in a location where the grid is periodically unreliable, or if you just want to give a higher degree of dependability for your home’s electricity.
There is no noise pollution
Solar panels and battery storage systems, unlike generators, do not produce noise pollution that will annoy your neighbors. This is a one-of-a-kind advantage that is a terrific way for anyone who already owns a generator to upgrade their system.
Characteristics Of A Good Solar Battery
A good solar battery should be the best combination of the above characteristics:
- Tolerant to intermittent solar charging
- Durable (high number of cycles charge/discharge, long life duration)
- Accept quick charging/discharging
- And ultimately, cheap
You can see the huge technical challenge that scientists and engineers are tackling to bring the best product to the market.
Types of solar batteries
There are four main types of battery technologies that pair with residential solar systems:
- Lead acid batteries
- Lithium-ion batteries
- Nickel based batteries
- Flow batteries
Each of these battery backup power technologies has its own set of unique characteristics. Let’s take a closer look at what each type of solar battery has to offer.
Lead acid batteries
Lead acid batteries are the tried and true technology of the solar battery world.
These deep-cycle batteries have been used to store energy for a long time – since the 1800s, in fact. And they’ve been able to stick around because of their reliability.
There are two main types of lead acid batteries: flooded lead acid batteries and sealed lead acid batteries.
Lead acid batteries are the cheapest energy storage option, making them the most cost-effective. They are also reliable. Plus, because the technology has been around for years, it can be easily disposed of and recycled.
Flooded lead acid batteries require ventilation and regular maintenance to operate correctly, which increases the chances of the battery leaking.
This also limits how flooded lead acid batteries can be installed, because they can’t be placed on their side. They also have a low depth of discharge (DoD), so they need to be charged more often.
Having a low depth of discharge also means they have a shorter lifespan – between 5 and 10 years.
Lithium-ion batteries are the new kids on the energy storage block.
As the popularity of electric vehicles began to rise, EV manufacturers realized lithium ion’s potential as an energy storage solution. They quickly became one of the most widely used solar battery banks.
Nickel cadmium batteries
Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries aren’t as widely used as lead acid or lithium-ion batteries.
Ni-Cd batteries first sprung on the scene in the late 1800s, but they got a makeover in the 1980s that greatly increased how much energy they could store. They are a favorite in the aircraft industry.
The main benefit of Ni-Cd batteries is that they are durable. They also have the ability to operate at extreme temperatures. Additionally, they don’t require complex battery management systems and are basically maintenance-free.
The biggest downfall of Ni-Cd batteries is that cadmium is extremely toxic.
In fact, the use of cadmium is banned in some countries. This makes them hard to dispose of. They also are prone to the memory effect, which limits their ability to hold a charge.
Flow batteries are an emerging technology in the energy storage sector.
They contain a water-based electrolyte liquid that flows between two separate chambers, or tanks, within the battery. When charged, chemical reactions occur which allow the energy to be stored and subsequently discharged. These batteries are now beginning to rise in popularity.
Their larger size makes them more expensive than the other battery types. The high price, combined with the large size, makes it hard to adapt them to residential use. However, reflow manufacturers a residential flow battery, which they call ZCell.
One of the best things about flow batteries is that they have a 100% depth of discharge. This means you can use all of the energy stored in the battery without damaging the battery’s health.
The liquid within the battery is also fire retardant, so you don’t have the risk of thermal runaway. Flow batteries have the longest lifespan on this list – 30 years! And as an added bonus, they’re low-maintenance.
Flow batteries are unfortunately much more expensive than other types of solar batteries. They also have a relatively low storage capacity compared to other battery systems, so in order to hold a substantial amount of energy they need to be large.
They have very low charge and discharge rates, which also means that in order to be effective, they must be large in size.
In conclusion, solar batteries have lots of benefits. If you are looking for a more reliable source of power, then the solar battery is your best bet.