Solar Basics: How Does Solar Work?
First let’s discuss how a normal solar system works, without a battery. To use an analogy, think of the utility/energy company as a bank. You deposit energy into the “bank” via your solar panels, and the utilities will keep track of how much energy you produce and contribute. This is done via an electric meter called a “net meter.” The net meter keeps track of how much energy you use versus how much energy you supply to the grid. Your house will use the solar energy you generated with your panels before it takes electricity from the utility company. This means that, if your system is sized properly, you should never have another electric bill from the utility company!
Sounds great, right? Well, adding a solar battery will make your system even better! Solar batteries make a great accent to an existing or new solar system. Until you have a battery, solar arrays will not work when the grid is down during a blackout, as it can cause harm to line workers during an emergency. Solar batteries are the solution to a blackout, when the grid goes down you automatically disconnect from the grid and start pulling energy from your battery. When power has been restored, your battery will silently recharge using your solar panels. Let’s explore how adding a battery can make a solar system perform like a generator without the gas!
Adding a Battery to a System-
How It Works with Your System
How does a solar system function with a solar battery installed? It is not too different from the solar system without a battery, in that D/C (Direct Current) power is produced by the panels converted by the microinverters on your panels to A/C (Alternating current) which you home can use. With a solar battery, the energy produced by your panels is stored in your solar battery in the form of D/C power and when it is needed, it converts back to A/C which your home can use.
Important Note: SOLAR SYSTEMS DO NOT NEED A SOLAR BATTERY TO OPERATE AND PRODUCE!
You ARE NOT losing energy to the grid if you do not have a solar battery. As mentioned before, your net meter will keep track of how much energy you are producing and providing back to the utilities.
It is helpful to think about a solar battery much like a gas generator without all the fumes and headache. Once your battery is charged, it acts as the emergency backup for your home, so you can keep the lights on, even when the utility company can’t!
Each System and Battery is Personalized to the Home
Sizing a solar battery for home use is not a one size fits all approach. Each home is different in size, needs and energy usage. We know how important it is to properly size your house for the number of panels needed for your energy usage. It is also very important to properly size your solar battery as well. Otherwise, the battery may not be able to keep up with everything you would like to keep running during a blackout. For example, if you use a lot of energy and would like to keep everything going in the event of a blackout, you may need two batteries to supply the house. At American Sentry Solar, our solar experts will take an in-depth look into your home’s energy usage and design and perfectly sized system and battery for your home!
Benefits & Drawbacks
Want to add a solar battery as an energy storage option? If you are looking to install a solar battery to compliment your solar system, there are a few benefits and barriers to considvber.
- The first of many benefits is that solar batteries will only discharge when the power goes out unless the homeowner specifies otherwise.
- Because of microgrid capabilities, another extra benefit of a solar battery is that your panels will still produce in a blackout, whereas a system without a battery will not produce in a blackout. This is not because your panels can’t produce without a battery, this is mostly for firefighter and utility work safety in the event of an emergency.
- The transition to battery power is seamless, so you will not even know when you switch to battery power!
- Furthermore, in the solar batteries that American Sentry Solar offer, they include GPS units. This is so your battery can detect inclement weather patterns and make sure your battery is charged up and ready to go. How cool is that?!
- One of the most powerful benefits is the power to access all the information about your solar system and solar battery by way of your smart phone. You can monitor system health 24/7!
- One of the most common barriers to owning a solar battery with your solar system is cost. A good solar battery will not be inexpensive. For most homeowners with solar, this is one of the main concerns.
- The other prominent concern of a solar battery is how long they will last. Typically, solar batteries are guaranteed to last at least 10 years at 70% capacity. A savvy consumer will know that solar panels can last 30+ years, so this means you may have to replace the battery over the life of the solar system. Therefore, it is important to weigh the costs with the benefits and make an informed decision.
The Solar Batteries at American Sentry Solar
At American Sentry Solar we use one of the best and safest solar batteries on the market, the Enphase Encharge 10. This solar battery competes directly with the Tesla Powerwall & uses less fire-hazardous battery materials. With the Encharge 10, you can always add more storage as your homes needs change. Additionally, the Enphase Encharge 10 uses one of the safest solar battery technologies (lithium iron phosphate) in the industry. To learn more about how our solar batteries stack up against the competition, visit our comparison page.
Solar Batteries & Your Home
To sum it up, solar batteries make a great addition to any solar system and can keep you prepared should you lose power during and emergency. This means your home would not need a generator and no messy gas to refill. However, homeowners should consider their needs before investing in a solar battery to back up their home. Our team likes to emphasize that not all solar systems are the same and will differ depending on the homeowner’s needs. If you are considering a solar system and are curious about a battery, give us a call! We will give you all the information to make the right decision for you. Already have a system and want to add a solar battery? No problem! We offer a Free Solar Analysis for those new/curious about solar and we offer free estimates for existing systems.