Solar Energy Storage: Benefits of Battery Backups and Much More
In 2019, 40 percent of all new electric generating capacity was solar power. (Solar Energy Industries Association)
• The highest percentage of any energy source added to the grid
• The largest share of solar power to date
• Enough to power 14.5 million homes in the United States
As more Americans are turning to solar power for their home energy, more of them are also considering backup power storage solutions. There are significant benefits to having your own backup system, including becoming more energy independent. In this post, we’ll share a few more of these benefits, along with tax credit information, energy monitoring insights, and more.
If you already know that you’re ready to back up your home energy system, simply request a free solar consultation online. Or, call (704) 525-6767.
Or, maybe you’re still in the information gathering stage. If so, then here are answers to frequently asked questions about this kind of storage.
What is Solar Energy Storage?
With solar power, panels take in the sun’s energy and transform it into electricity. A piece of equipment called an inverter then takes that electricity and turns it into a form that you can use. When excess energy is produced, it’s sent back to the power grid. When you need more energy than what’s being produced by your solar panels, you can then take it from the grid.
There is, however, another option when excess energy is being created by your solar panels. That’s to store it yourself, rather than sending it back to the grid, for your future needs.
Here’s what’s interesting. If you would go back in time, all solar energy systems were originally off the grid. These energy systems collected the sun’s energy and stored it in a battery. These were usually lead-acid batteries.
In the late 1990s, the grid-tied inverter became used more often. When that became widely available, people using solar energy systems no longer needed their battery. Now, though, we’re coming full circle so that consumers can benefit from the best of both worlds. They have renewable energy that’s tied to the grid for reliable power AND they can have backup batteries for increased energy independence.
How Does Storing Energy Work?
As mentioned, when your system creates more renewable energy than you can use, you can store that excess at your home. How? Through charging a battery created specifically for that purpose. When you have this battery backup system, the only time electricity goes to the grid is when the battery is completely recharged. (Note that batteries have differing amounts of storage capacity.)
The only time you’ll draw from the grid, then, is when your solar panels are not currently creating the energy you need AND your battery energy is depleted.
How Does This System Affect My Electric Bills?
When you switch to solar power, electric bills look different than what you were used to. That’s because of an incentive called “net metering” that’s commonly used and is available in both North Carolina and South Carolina. With the net metering system, when extra energy is sent to the grid, you receive credits. When you need to pull energy from the grid, you use up some of those credits.
If you then add solar energy storage to your system, then the electric bills will start to look different again. That’s because you likely won’t see as much back and forth between receiving and using up credits because you’ll instead be storing much more of what you need.
Why is Battery Backup Important?
As a short-term reason, you can store up home energy that can be used when the sun isn’t shining. That way, you don’t need to tap into the grid and use up your energy credits. Plus, you can have peace of mind when the power goes out, without having to worry about having your life interrupted by, say, food spoiling in the refrigerator.
In the Carolinas, if a solar system doesn’t have a backup method for storing energy, then energy delivery is stopped as a safety precaution. So, in that situation, having a backup is essential for energy, whether that’s for your electric furnace or air conditioner, stove, microwave, or coffee maker.
If there is a middle of the night power outage, your power continues and you can enjoy a normal morning. Plus, with battery backup, your house keeps running in a closed loop system. This means that, once power is restored, all continues as before.
These are just some of the benefits of having a backup system. Here’s even more information about energy storage backups.
What Are the Best Types of Solar Batteries?
We recommend two different types of battery storage solutions: Tesla Powerwall and Generac PWRcell. Here is an overview of each.
Tesla Powerwall 2.0
This is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can store up to 13.5 kWh of clean energy to provide power to your home. You can mount this on your wall, and it’s integrated with the local power grid to give you the flexibility to draw this renewable energy, when needed.
If there’s an outage, Powerwall can detect it, virtually instantly. It will then disconnect from the grid and provide power to your home—in literally just a fraction of a second. You won’t even have time to realize the power outage has taken place.
Here’s a note about lithium-ion batteries. These are the same type that power smartphones and electric cars. These kinds of batteries can store plenty of energy and can easily be installed. Prices are continuing to drop, and they have a small carbon footprint, as well. Learn More About Tesla Powerwall
This is another solution that can harness the sun’s power and store it for backup power during outages to protect your home and family. This battery uses revolutionary technology to provide surge power up to 10kW, with up to 8kW of continuous output. This is enough to keep most homes up and running with power.
Each of these two brands have benefits. Renu can help you determine which is best for your home.
How Can We Monitor Our Energy Consumption and Storage?
Consumption monitoring is actually one of three key steps of gaining energy independence. These steps are to:
• Create your own power
• Monitor and manage usage
• Store excess energy
The first step can be achieved through having a solar energy system installed. Because of tax credits and utility rebates, this is more affordable now than ever before. Step two—monitoring your consumption—involves consciously deciding to make energy efficient decisions. It also includes technology like smart thermostats, using indoor solar lighting, attic fans, and more.
The third step is energy storage, using solar batteries like we’ve been describing in this post.
Are There Federal Tax Credits Available?
Yes! The federal investment tax credit for a solar energy system can help with costs in these percentages:
• In 2020, there is a 26% credit, based upon the solar system’s total cost.
• In 2021, the tax credit will decrease to 22%.
• After that, the amount of the credit will go down to 10%.
Find more information about tax incentives here.