Solar Battery Storage – FAQ
Solar Batteries are compatible with any existing solar system, and are connected directly to your meter board where we install a system hub that connects your house to the cloud for advanced system monitoring and management. Solaray Energy Management Systems come with home automation capabilities built-in, and they are fully compatible with micro-grids once they come online over the next few years.
Off Grid vs Grid Connected
Many customers ask us about batteries so that they can go ‘Off-Grid’. Whilst we all appreciate how great it would be to not have any more power bills, this is not practical for almost all homes.
The basic concept behind the use of a combined solar and battery system is that the batteries are charged by solar panels during the day, and then the household runs from the stored solar energy at night time. So far, so good. In this case, the economics say that you should install enough solar and battery capacity to cover most of your night time energy usage most of the time.
However, to go off grid (and therefore not have access to grid power at any time), means you need to install not only enough batteries to run your house overnight and into the next morning (when electricity is usually cheapest anyway), but also to run your house in the event that we get days or even weeks without consistent sunshine. To do this – and not run the risk of running out of power (just before guests arrive for dinner) means you would realistically have to buy and install around 10 times the capacity of batteries than you would otherwise, and only save an extra handful of dollars a month.
When is the right time to install solar batteries?
For almost everyone, the answer to this will be within the next three years. We have already solar hundreds of batteries since the release of the Enphase AC Battery, Fronius Hybrid Systems, Redback Solar Batteries and the Tesla Powerwall. Pricing for solar batteries is much lower than what a lot of people were expecting, and many people have jumped at the opportunity to further reduce their power bills due to the ease of installing and managing these new batteries.
It is reasonable to expect that the prices will start to come down over the next 12 months and keep coming down until they become quite cheap – our crystal ball says this will be around mid-2017 to early 2018.
If you want to find out about current prices and further information on what options are available, please drop us an enquiry and we would be happy to help.
Should I install solar now or wait for the batteries?
Solar power prices are at a record low to the point where a return on your money is now possible in 3 to 5 years, and even less on larger systems. Part of the reason solar power is booming in Australia is the Federal Government incentive (which won’t be around forever). On a 5kW system the current rebate is around $4,000.
A battery ready solar system can be installed today (without batteries) and can start saving you money off your power bills from day one. A 5kW system can save you up to around $2000 a year off your power bills, so if you are likely to buy batteries in 2 to 3 years time, you can save a significant amount of money from your solar system before adding storage. If you buy a battery ready & expandable solar system such as Enphase or SolarEdge, once you are ready to add batteries you will be able to add additional panels as needed.
With battery ready solar system, we simply add the batteries by running a cable from the battery bank directly into your meter board, where we install an energy management hub that connects your batteries to your existing solar system and your home. These smart systems include full system monitoring that is connected to the cloud, allowing you to manage your solar & storage from anywhere in the world.
Will solar storage mean no more black-outs?
Almost all solar storage systems in Sydney will be grid-tied and will turn off in a black out, although there will be certain products that will allow you to use your stored energy in a blackout by switching to island mode. This additional functionality requires an expensive piece of hardware so it will only suit households with a specific set of requirements. For most households solar storage will be about lower power bills and a quick return on investment, in which case a grid-tied system will be more appropriate. For those looking to invest in emergency preparedness the additional expense of having island mode functionality will be worth it for the peace of mind, as certain appliances will stay on during a period of time without grid power.
If you want to use Energy Storage in a blackout you would normally only look to power those circuits or appliances that are absolutely necessary (which could be lights, medical equipment, computers etc) rather than the whole house. When you make an enquiry the Solaray Team will look at all of this to help you choose the right storage system. We will advise you on what options are available and what they can and can’t do.