For a few years now, we’ve been hearing that solar batteries are on the cusp of a residential boom, much like solar panels were a decade ago.
Finally, these predictions may be coming true. Energy experts are predicting we could skyrocket to be the number one home battery market in the world, with Australians expected to install nearly one in three of every battery sold globally in 2019.
So should you join the growing number of people getting a battery? This handy guide gives some of the information you need before taking the plunge.
- Solar battery basics
- How a solar battery works
- Costs, rebates and the zero dollar bill
- Tips for installing
Solar battery basics
Put very simply, a solar battery stores the electricity produced by your solar panels, so you can use it at night or on cloudy days when your solar system isn’t producing electricity.
A household with rooftop solar but no battery has only two options when it’s generating power in the middle of the day – use it, or export it to the grid. Most people use electricity at the beginning and end of each day, and a solar battery allows them to save their solar energy to use in those peak periods when it’s needed most.
While cool battery tech like the Tesla Powerwall might make home storage seem like a new idea, farmers have been using large banks of lead-acid batteries, fed by solar or wind power, on their remote properties for decades.
Advances in battery technology mean that consumers can now install a battery system that’s much less bulky and more efficient. In fact it’s now possible, with a reasonable-sized solar system and battery, to run a house substantially on solar power and achieve “zero dollar” electricity bills.
How a solar battery works
Home batteries can be installed in a range of different ways. A typical setup involves solar panels feeding electricity through an inverter, which is used to charge your battery and to help power your home. The electricity in your battery is available when you need it later in the day. Any excess solar goes into the grid and you get paid for it in the form of a feed-in tariff.
Almost all residential solar battery systems are connected to the mains electricity network. This power comes in through a household meter and is used to supplement household energy supply if there is not enough sun and/or the battery isn’t full enough.
In this case, your battery would re-charge again when your solar system is next generating electricity. Alternatively, you could re-charge your battery overnight during the off-peak period when electricity is cheaper.
Costs, rebates and the zero dollar bill
Battery prices are decreasing year on year as more households install them (increasing demand and bolstering competition in the industry). In 2019, a typical battery system will cost between $8000 and $15,000.
However installing a battery at the same time as a solar system can be the cheapest time to do so – in fact you could save 5%-10%.
Meanwhile, some State Governments are introducing solar rebate programs, helping slash the cost of solar batteries by thousands of dollars.
Basic details of the State schemes are outlined below:
Solar battery rebates VIC: Victoria is offering a relatively generous $4838 solar battery rebate from 2019, but is only releasing a modest 1000 grants a year and only in certain suburbs, known as “growth areas”.
Solar battery rebates NSW: New South Wales is rolling out a large loans scheme, offering $9000 no-interest loans to purchase a battery system and $14,000 to purchase a solar-battery system.
Solar battery rebates QLD: Queensland was offering households either a $10,000 interest-free loan for a battery system or a $3000 subsidy for a battery system or solar-battery system, however that scheme has now ended.
However what’s making solar batteries even more attractive to buyers isn’t the cost of the battery itself, it’s the relative cost of electricity.
The cost of energy in Australia is on the rise and consumers are feeling the pinch. A solar battery allows a household to decrease its reliance on electricity from the grid and instead maximise its use of its own solar energy.
This means that while the rest of the country has to pay for higher and higher electricity prices, people with solar batteries can focus on generating enough solar energy to cover their usage, get paid to export any excess electricity, and ultimately avoid buying energy from the grid: the zero dollar electricity bill.
Tips for installing a battery
Once you’ve decided that a solar battery is for you, there are still a few things to consider.
As with solar panels, it’s important to ensure you pick a reputable, accredited installer so don’t hesitate to ask you how long they’ve been in business, how many installations they’ve done and even ask for some references.
It’s also important to confirm they’re accredited by the Clean Energy Council, so ask for their CEC accreditation number and double check it on the Clean Energy Council’s website.
Post-installation support is also vital. Look for solar panels that come with a product warranty of 10 years and a performance warranty of 25 years. Look for a solar battery with a warranty of at least 10 years.
There should be strong indications of support from the installer and manufacturer – so you know you’ve got someone to call on if something goes wrong.
For the same reasons, it also pays to give your hard-earned dollars to a well-known brand that will be around for a while. In the past few years, a number of solar panel and battery manufacturers have either folded or no longer service the Australia market, meaning people who bought a Kokam Storeaxe or Ampetus Super Lithium battery are now on their own.
Looking into solar batteries?
At DC Power Co, we don’t think solar batteries should break the bank. That’s why we’ve designed the affordable DC Sunny Saver. A reliable brand, quality products, and an extended warranty, all for under $6000.
Designed to fit you, the DC Sunny Saver’s modular design means it can grow with you and your family’s needs. You can also protect yourself from summer blackouts with the Emergency Blackout Box.