What are the benefits of batteries?
Battery Storage allows electricity generated by solar panels during the day to be stored at night when the sun has stopped shining. While batteries were first produced in the 1800’s, the types of battery energy storage systems that can store solar power and provide electricity to households are fairly new. Installing a battery storage system can provide a number of benefits when used in conjunction with an existing or new solar panel system.
Installing a battery storage system can
- Help reduce reliance on electricity from the grid
- Maximise the energy used from solar panels by allowing it to be stored rather than sent to the grid.
- Offset the increased cost of power used during peak times such as during the evening.
- Save money by storing energy from the grid overnight when prices are high (depending on your power agreement).
- Provide electricity during power outages (depending on the system).
How do solar batteries work?
The significant reduction in the cost of battery storage systems in recent years means that installing a battery is fast becoming a viable option for many Australian households. But what exactly are battery storage systems and how do they work to power a home?
Battery storage uses a chemical process to store electrical energy, which can then be used at a later time. For example, a solar-powered torch stores electrochemical energy during the daylight hours that can be used to provide light at night.
A battery storage system connects to a house in two main ways - DC (direct current) coupled or AC ( alternating current) coupled.
A DC-coupled battery storage system is integrated into the solar system. These systems generally have a single inverter that converts the DC electricity to AC to supply the house or feed back into the grid.
A AC-coupled system is separate to the solar system. It connects directly to the house wiring via a dedicated bi-directional battery inverter, using local AC electricity to charge the battery then discharge it directly to the house.
Once set up, a battery storage system will operate automatically.
What different types of batteries are available?
Lithium-ion batteries are becoming a popular choice for use with household solar panels and may become the main technology used in the future. lithium-ion technology has been used for many years in portable devices, including laptops and mobile phones. Due to falling costs and increased production, they can now be manufactured in larger sizes and are well suited to storing solar power.
The technology has behind lead-acid battery storage is similar to that of a car battery. Lead-acid batteries commonly used with solar panels on remote rural homes, where connection to the grid is prohibitively expensive. Thanks to advantages in technology, systems well-suited to solar power storage are readily available in the form of low-maintenance sealed lead-acid batteries.