All About Batteries

Rooftop solar arrays, for the most part, are connected to the grid. However, it does not always have to be that way. With solar batteries, you can produce more energy than you can consume. The difference is that you do not need to feed the electric power back to the grid.

When the panels do not produce enough energy for your appliances and other pieces of equipment, you can still have power from the grid. However, if you have a solar battery installed as part of your solar system, you can store extra solar power and keep it there. There is no need to send it back to the grid.

When you have excess power, you can use it to charge your batteries instead. You can then utilise this stored power if the panels do not generate as much energy as required. An example is when it is cloudy, and you need more power than what your system has acquired throughout the day.

A solar battery can also be used as a backup for your home if there is an electrical outage.

There are two main options with batteries:

  • You have the inverter, and the excess goes to charge the batteries. When the batteries are full, the power goes back to the grid, and you get a feed-in tariff.
  • You should have a facility within the batteries for circuit protection. If the grid ever drops out, you can still have power, thanks to the battery. It will not last for a long time, but it can provide a few hours so that you can accomplish your tasks, for example.

Typically, homeowners use batteries for their lights or to power up their appliances, such as the fridge, pool filters, and other equipment.

How Do Batteries Work?

If your solar panels create more power than what you need and use at home, the excess electricity will go into the grid. There may be times, though when the panels cannot produce electricity, perhaps because of the bad weather. In this case, you can turn to your battery storage when you would normally draw power from the grid.

For many households, they use batteries because of any of the following reasons:

  • Excess solar energy is generated during the day, allowing the homeowner to store it. This energy can be used when the sun is not shining.
  • Some homeowners want to have backup power that they can easily access if ever the grid goes down.
  • Other users want to charge the battery during off-peak times and utilise the energy during peak times.

Batteries are known to make it easy for homeowners to use solar at night. Additionally, they are great as backup power sources. However, some systems do not offer both, although it does make the battery storage more affordable. For those who live in Perth or any major city or town in the country, batteries as backup may not make sense. After all, most people probably do not even remember the last time they had a blackout, including one that lasted for more than a few hours.

Nevertheless, some installers would say that batteries are crucial for your solar system to operate without interruptions.

But How Do Batteries Work?

Batteries would discharge at night and recharge in the morning. If you consume more power than normal, you need to have excess power that you are not using to charge the batteries. Some homeowners in Perth would have a huge bill in the daytime, and you want to charge a 14kW battery, it may not be feasible. You should talk to a professional to calculate your needs and what is suitable for you.

Solar battery storage systems work in two ways. The first one is without backup, specifically a hybrid solar system that does not have backup battery storage. This system is the simplest and most affordable type of storage available today.

Electrically, it will treat the batteries just like it would any other solar panel array. Therefore, the pack plugs straight into the spare input on the inverter.
For the battery integration to work, you need the following:

  • A battery pack that has a high voltage DC output, along with an integrated charger
  • Detailed information on how much power is used in the household to aid in determining when to charge the batteries
  • An inverter to manage the battery’s system, as well as a spare input
  • Wires

It can be a little complex, requiring the help of a real professional who understands how everything works.

The other way is to have solar battery storage, meaning you have a hybrid system with backup. This one is more expensive, and it is performed either by AC or DC coupling. AC coupling involves coupled systems that utilise 240V AC for charging the batteries. It is the more common option, particularly in retrofitting batteries to an already up-and-running solar system.

What to Know About Batteries

One thing to watch out for if you would like to use batteries is getting scammed. An example is you get charged $7,000 for a 1kW battery, which will not do anything for you. If you have a 4kW inverter on your wall and it is at peak production in the night, it needs almost four units to power it for one hour. If you only have a 1kW battery, it will only last 15 minutes. Be sure to talk to an expert and understand the limitations and requirements with batteries.

Another important fact is that there are batteries that you can only use for the specific inverter it is designed for. For example, you have a Fronius battery, which should be paired with a Fronius inverter.

An Enphase microinverter uses an Enphase battery. The product is quite handy and impressive. It is a 1kW battery, but you can string ten in a row.

LG Chem RESU10 is also one of the best products out there. It is a 48V lithium-ion with a 9.8kWh storage system. The RESU10 is an optimised solution for those who want to save energy while delivering high-quality power.

Another product worth mentioning is BYD, which uses HV and LV batteries. GoodWe inverters also work with HV.

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