The big question: more solar panels or a battery?

Posted in Getting battery storage

Beat declining FiTs - DC Power Co

Investing in a battery for your solar system is the logical next step in reducing your reliance on the grid and moving toward energy independence. Everyday Aussies are leading the way and making the battery leap in their tens of thousands.

But if you’ve had your solar system in place for a while, you may be asking: Does it make sense for me? Am I better off investing in more panels before I purchase a battery?

At first you don’t need to crunch the numbers to get a feel for what’s right for you and your next renewable energy investment. And while the decision is often a financial one, there are other important things to factor in.

Here’s our brief guide.


Why more Australians are making the battery leap

Advances in battery technology mean today’s solar storage solutions are more powerful and more accessible to the average home. Long gone are the days when a $30,000 price tag was the only available option. 

Modular battery packages with powerful features such as blackout protection, extended warranties and advanced monitoring are now available at price points well under $10,000. As such, more and more Australians are investing in solar storage and they’re doing it for financial, lifestyle and security reasons. 

A solar battery can store excess power that you would have otherwise exported and use it in the evening peak period. In fact, the right battery solution can help you vastly boost the volume of solar energy you consume – from around 25% to as much as 80% (for an average solar home) – and dramatically reduce your energy bills

But often there are also bigger things at play. Batteries with blackout protection help households keep their essential appliances running when the grid falters.  Whether it’s the fridge, lights, or – in the case of an emergency – the TV and radio.


More panels vs battery – what’s the right next step for me?

If your energy usage has increased significantly since your solar system was installed – for example, you have more people living in your home or you’ve purchased an electric vehicle –  it may make sense for you to consider additional panels. Be aware, however, that available roof space, shading, or inverter capacity may be a limitation.

Even if more panels are a viable option, the real question when deciding on your next renewable energy investment is: Do you want to export more solar or gain greater control and take the next step toward energy independence?

If your solar system is already well specced to your needs and you regularly export excess power, additional panels will allow you to export more at your current feed-in-tariff (FiT). The FiT can vary greatly depending on your location, power company and how long you’ve had your system, but it is generally between 7–20c – that’s much less than what you pay when you buy power from the grid.

A battery, however, opens a new world of possibilities. It allows you to:

  • use your excess daytime solar to charge your battery
  • store that power for use during peak evening/early morning usage times
  • charge the battery overnight and sell that power back to the grid the following day (if your off-peak grid rate is lower than your FiT)
  • keep your essential appliances (like your fridge and freezer, and the TV) running in a blackout (blackout protection required)
  • participate in energy market initiatives (such as virtual power plants) if you so choose.


What size battery is right for my system?

Every solar household is slightly different in terms of their solar setup, energy use and outlook. Crunching your numbers in terms of existing kilowatt capacity, export and usage and overlaying it with your current and future energy needs is certainly helpful (if you’re up for it!) and we can guide you through the process

But you don’t need to get into the detail to get a feel for what’s right for you.

As a rough rule of thumb, households with a 2kW solar system (about eight solar panels) and above are typically good candidates for getting started with a battery. And battery size does matter.

When getting started, you don’t want to over spec (why pay for the extra capacity when you don’t need it?) or under spec (why ‘waste’ excess power that could be working for you?).

To maximise the value of your solar battery investment, we recommend sizing your battery roughly in line with your average daily winter export. You’ll find this information on your electricity bill that captures the winter months – make sure you divide the kWh figure under ‘Solar Exports’ or ‘Feed-in’ by the number of days in the billing period to get your daily value.

We’ve performed a similar analysis on over 1500 of our existing solar customers and found that the vast majority required a battery of less than 10 kWh capacity.  See our battery sizing guide for more information.


Take your next step

If you want to take the next step toward energy independence with a solar battery you need to understand your options. We’re dedicated to solar households and we’ve done our homework when it comes to batteries, creating a modular storage solution that’s hard to beat. Find out more about the DC Power Co Solar Battery Package.


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