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Lithium-ion Home Energy Storage Battery

A Brief Guide to Solar Power

Solar power can provide your home with clean, renewable energy while saving you money on your electricity bill. When installing solar panels on a home, the excess electricity produced during the day is sent back to the grid. However, by combining solar power with an at-home storage option, homeowners are able to store any excess energy produced by their panels during the day and use it when the sun isn’t shining. Homeowners who combine solar power with storage options have many advantages over those who rely solely on solar power alone.

An Overview of How Solar Power Works

The process of converting sunlight into electricity is called the solar-energy cycle. Solar panels work by converting solar radiation—photons—into direct current electricity; inverters are then utilized to convert that direct current into the alternating current used in homes.

Residential solar systems are usually grid-tied, meaning that your home’s solar panels are connected to the electricity grid. Excess electricity created by your solar panels is sent to the grid, and during peak hours (usually in the morning and evening), any unused electricity in the grid can be put back into your home through an energy meter located near your meter box.

Net Metering: How It Works, and Why Utilities Are Concerned

Some states allow customers to sell electricity back to their local power companies, while others do not. In most cases, homeowners are credited for the energy they send to the grid during daylight hours. At night, when solar panels are not producing electricity, those credits are applied to the homeowner’s utility bill for use of other power sources. The size of these credits varies from state to state.

Some states do not have net metering laws, which means that any solar energy you produce but do not use during the day is sent back to the grid and you receive no payment or credit for it. If your state does not have net metering laws or if you’d like your solar system to be more resilient, solar + storage is a great option to consider!

What are the benefits of a solar + storage energy system?

Solar + storage technology allows homeowners to store the electricity that their solar panels produce in batteries. Since solar panels produce electricity but do not store it, the batteries allow homeowners to store the energy that they produce in their homes.

How Solar + Storage Systems Work

If you have a home solar system without storage, any excess energy created by your solar panels but not used at that moment is sent back to the grid. Solar panels produce electricity and send it to your home, and then any unused electricity is sent back to the grid.

When you install solar panels and batteries, the electricity created by your solar system will first be used at home. Any unused electricity will be stored in a battery storage system that is also located in your home.

Why Solar-Energy Storage Is Valuable

Now let’s review how solar-plus-storage systems work. We can explore the advantages of these systems in detail. Among them are:

1. Power outages can make it hard to keep food cool or frozen, which puts you at risk of spoilage

When a solar system is grid-tied, it sends any excess energy back to the grid and receives credit for this through net metering. In the event of a utility-wide power outage, the grid-tied system will turn off automatically and stop producing electricity. Solar storage capability means that when there is no utility power, you can draw electricity from your batteries while the grid is down. This can be helpful for regular power outages as well as outages in the event of an emergency.

2. States that don’t offer net metering can still take advantage of solar

In states without net metering policies, solar storage systems can be an economical way to utilize solar energy. Any electricity not consumed by the home is sent to a battery system, rather than being sent to the grid and not receiving credit. This can make installing solar more economical since homeowners are able to utilize their solar energy throughout the day and night—even when it isn’t being produced by panels on the roof. With that said, let’s look at another advantage of these systems.

3. Some solar panels can continue to produce electricity at night

By having a storage option, solar homeowners can use the electricity their panels produce during the day to power their homes and appliances at night. This allows them to utilize their solar energy at any time they’d like, not just when the sun is shining.

4. The ability to be designed as an off-grid system

Having solar batteries does not mean that you have to be off the electrical grid. If you have a solar system and storage batteries, you can store power in the batteries for use at night or when your solar system is not producing electricity.

There are also options with solar and storage to have an off-grid system, where your solar panels and batteries provide 100% of the electricity you need, and you are not tied to the grid. Essentially, your energy consumption is through a closed system in which the energy you produce is only used in your home. An off-grid system requires a significantly larger battery capacity than an on-grid system with a battery backup because the batteries in an off-grid system must be large enough to comfortably manage all of the electricity load for a home on days when there is peak electricity usage.

Installation of a solar-powered battery backup system

Many solar panel installers offer an option to include batteries in your solar setup. However, if you already have a solar system in your home, you can add a storage option to your existing solar setup. If you’re planning on installing a storage option after your electricity usage has increased from using more electricity or purchasing an electric vehicle, you can also add more panels to your existing solar system. With the addition of batteries and additional panels, homeowners can ensure that their solar system is able to meet their complete energy needs year-round.

How to Calculate the Size and Cost of a Solar Storage System

When working with your solar and storage battery provider, they will be able to provide suggestions on the number of batteries that will be suitable for your system by taking into account your current energy usage, the size of your solar system, and the ways that you would like to utilize the batteries. To cover a typical home’s energy load, homeowners would need two to three batteries. If you are only looking for backup power during power outages, one battery would likely be sufficient.