Most homeowners are torn between off-grid and grid-tied solar panel system. If you want to gain independence from the grid, solar energy storage batteries are a must-have. But are they always a necessity?
Like solar energy trackers, solar energy storage batteries can double the cost of solar installation. Therefore, if the energy storage system’s sole reason is saving on costs, it might not be the best option. It might seem like a financial gain to store surplus power for use at night instead of supplying to the grid, but this is not true.
First, batteries last for a shorter period than solar panels- especially if they are the lead-acid type. Therefore, you may need to buy the storage cells twice during the solar panel system’s lifespan. Batteries that can help you go off-grid costs around $10,000. The long period extends the payback period and reduces solar savings.
Before installing an energy storage system on your premises, you should compare it with what your utility company offers. Here are circumstances under which solar batteries are the best option.
When to Consider Energy Storage Batteries
a) High Electricity Rates
What is the cost of a kWh of electricity in your area? On average, the cost of electricity in Texas is approximately $0.11 per unit. You should compare the kilowatt per hour you use every night and during cloudy days to know the amount you will save by storing energy.
For example, if you use 15 kWh of electricity at night, you can save $1.65 (0.11 × 15) every day. In a month, the amount is approximately $50.
But what is the cost of solar energy storage batteries in comparison to the saving? A reliable solar battery can last for around 15 years costs around $10,000. Therefore, the average cost per day of the battery is as calculated below:
10,000 ÷ (365 × 15) = $1.82
Comparing the 2 figures, it makes financial sense to use a grid-tied solar system instead of storage batteries. The savings you make for having the storage cells is $1.65, while the cost is $1.82.
Although our scenario does not support storage batteries, electricity cost in some regions is higher.
b) No Buyback Option
If your utility company does not have a buyback program, you can consider batteries to store excess power. However, most utility companies have solar credit options. You receive credit for every unit you supply to the grid.
As an option, you can install solar panels that supply enough energy for your use during the day. Then, use a grid-tied option for the supply of energy at night. This option does not work well because peak hours keep fluctuating from one season to another. You don’t expect the same output during winter and summer.
c) Off-grid Solar Panel System
If you want to gain independence from the electricity company, solar batteries are a must-have. The project allows you to have control over your utility bills. Apart from that, you can avoid downtime in case of any prolonged power blackouts.
If this is the case, solar energy does not have to make financial sense. However, as solar batteries’ prices keep decreasing, this will be a viable and economical option.
You can also consider solar batteries for the grid-tie system for backup when there is a power outage. You can also store power in the storage system when the prices are lower.
d) Highly Sensitive Businesses
Does your business require constant power supply and any outage could significantly affect the profits? You can consider battery backup for provision of power throughout. The energy storage system also gives you an edge over your competitors. In case of natural calamities which affect electricity, it is easy to restore solar energy storage system rather than relying onutlity companies.
Solar energy storage systems are still considerably expensive and they can double the cost of the solar panel system. However, some businesses and homeowners may opt for them because of the certainty they offer. Apart from that, they give you independence from the utility company.