A guide to solar panel battery storage
If you’re looking for ways to save money on your energy bills in the long-term, installing a solar panel storage battery can help.
To help you work out whether energy storage is right for your home and energy needs, we take a look at what your options are and what you should expect to budget.
What is a battery energy storage system?
Installing a solar battery means you can store the energy generated by your solar PV panels, you can then use that energy later on. One of the big benefits of storing your own energy is that it reduces your reliance on energy providers and saves you money on bills. Not only that, it means more of the energy you use is green, reducing your carbon footprint.
How big is a solar battery?
Size varies depending on the battery model you choose. Average batteries are roughly the size of a small suitcase.
How do solar battery storage systems work?
Solar panels take energy from the sun and convert it for your immediate use, they don’t have the ability to store any unused energy. But having a battery means excess energy will be stored for later use.
Without battery storage, the excess energy generated during the day goes back to the National Grid.
What size battery storage system do I need?
When it comes to energy storage, there’s no one size fits all solution, and it comes down to your household needs. To make sure you get a compatible battery energy storage system, consider:
Most batteries are lithium-ion (the same ones used in the majority of portable devices like mobile phones and laptops). These batteries are the preferred choice as they’re more efficient and less likely to overheat (they don’t need to be ventilated).
You can still use older style batteries (like the ones used in your car) which are also cheaper. However, over the lifetime of the battery, lithium-ion is more economical.
This shows how ‘big’ your battery is and measures the amount of energy that can be stored at any one time. The very largest storage batteries hold up to 20kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy, which is far more than what you’ll need for home use. In comparison, the average household in the UK uses between 8kWh and 10kWh of energy each day.
Energy storage packs don’t last as long as solar panels. Depending on the power storage cells you buy, they can last anything between 10 and 15 years. In contrast, solar panels can keep going for up to 30 years (some even longer).
When you compare different battery storage systems, look at the number of times the battery can be charged and discharged (known as a cycle). The more cycles your battery can cope with, the longer it will last. Most manufacturers will guarantee a minimum number of cycles and offer a warranty to that effect.
If you already have a solar PV array installed and need to retrofit a battery, you’ll need to consider batteries with an alternating current (AC). If not, and you’re thinking of installing panels and a battery storage solution at the same time, you’ll be able to look for storage cells with a direct current (DC) connection.
A renewable energy storage system is similar to your boiler in that it will need regular maintenance to make sure it’s working as it should be. Your installer will be able to give you an idea of the type of servicing it will need depending on the specific type of energy storage you choose.
A handful of batteries will work if your mains power is cut off. If you live rurally and suffer regular power outages, it could be worth looking at batteries with this ability.
Where can I put a battery energy storage system?
Ideally, your storage battery should be as close to your fuse box as possible as it monitors the energy coming into and going out of your home. Batteries also work best at room temperature so they should be installed indoors. For most people, this means batteries are often in the cupboard under the stairs or a utility room.
Alternatively, if it’s not possible or practical to have the battery indoors, you can install it in the loft or in your garage. Generally, for domestic energy storage, batteries should not be stored outside.
Can I install energy storage for my business?
Yes, definitely. Energy storage isn’t just for homes, and there are several options for businesses that want to store the excess energy they generate. The principles for commercial battery storage are similar to those for domestic energy so the battery you need will depend on the size of your business and the amount of energy you need.
One of the main differences is that you can buy commercial battery storage that can be placed outdoors.
How much does solar energy storage cost?
The cost comes down to the type of battery you choose – which is influenced by your energy consumption. It will also depend on whether you need to retrofit a battery storage system or if you’ll be installing a whole new array and battery combination.
Broadly, battery prices start from around £1,500 and can go all the way up to £15,000 for those with the maximum capacity of 20kWh. On top of the battery, you’ll need to budget for installation which will cost in the region of £1,000 to £2,000.
Are home solar battery storage systems worthwhile?
This will depend on your priorities. If bills and long-term savings are the most important factor for you, you’ll need to weigh up the cost of having a solar array and battery storage system installed (or retrofitted) compared to energy bills over the average lifespan of your battery. Don’t forget that if you intend to stay in the same house for the foreseeable, it’s likely you’ll need at least two storage batteries while you’re there.
However, cost isn’t the only reason for installing energy storage. If you’re keen to reduce your impact on the environment, installing your own renewable energy battery storage is likely to be a vital part of doing that.
What’s the best type of battery for solar storage?
If you’re interested in setting up your own battery energy storage system, you’ll need to carefully consider what your needs are, and in particular, the amount of energy you use. Also think about any features that are important to you, for instance, power back up.
To make sure you have the right battery storage for your needs, it’s well worth speaking to an expert who can assess your needs and show you the available options. For help or more advice, why not give us a call on 01953 882 787 or fill out our contact form below.