On-demand electricity is one of the most common reasons that homeowners cite when asked why they are considering going solar. This is likely to become an even more common reason as people react to concerns around the stability of our current power grid amidst the failings of Texas’ infrastructure that occurred in February 2021. If you’re looking into solar battery solutions as a way to provide yourself with peace of mind, here are few things you need to be aware of.
Grid-tied or grid-free
Your home’s energy consumption and solar production can vary greatly throughout the day. Often your lowest periods of consumption are during your peak production windows. If you’re on a grid-tied system, with net-metering as an option, you’re able to return that excess power back to the grid while earning credit from your local power utility. Conversely, when your production is low and demand is high a grid-tied system allows you to pull excess energy from your local power grid. Unfortunately in this type of setup when the grid is down, you have no access to electricity regardless of if your system can produce power at the time or not. In contrast, grid-free systems utilize batteries to store and supply your energy needs. With a grid-free system, your energy demands are limited by your system energy production and your battery storage capacity.
A third option
Some solar photovoltaic system owners are choosing to combine the convenience of a grid-tied system with the added security of a back-up battery. With a battery backup, you are able to store a portion of the electricity produced by your solar system so that you can use it at other times. The battery backup provides the system owner with added flexibility, allowing you to use your stored solar energy during periods when your system is able to produce power because of a lack of sunshine or even during a power grid outage. Here are a few things to consider when selecting the right battery for your system.
Battery type: There are two primary types of batteries lithium-ion and lead-acid. Among lithium-ion batteries, there is also lithium iron phosphate (LFP) versus nickel manganese cobalt (NMC). Each have different features and benefits.
Power needs: When deciding on a battery backup, you’ll want to consider your use. Are you looking for something to offset the cost of peak pricing, a resource to power a few critical appliances during a power outage, or meet the demands of your entire home? Answering these questions will impact the size and number of battery storage systems you’ll need.
System support: Traditional battery back-ups come with some cost savings but require a fair amount of management and maintenance on the system owner's part to take full advantage of the cost-saving benefits a battery back-up provides. In contrast, "smart battery systems" such as the Enphase Encharge® or Tesla Powerwall® handle many of the maintenance and management requirements on their own by using the energy stored in your battery back-up when utility rates are high, or switching to the battery back-up when power outages occur.To learn more about why a battery back-up might be right for you, download our eBook Forward with Solar or contact a certified installer who can talk you through what options are available and right for you.
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