Solar power is awesome. It lets you “harvest” energy from the sun for your home or business, which can help you have a more reliable source of electricity and cut down on the amount you have to spend on power every month. In addition to that, it’s also better for the environment.
But what happens when the power goes out? In this article, we’ll talk about solar battery backups, including what they are, why you might want one for your solar battery system, and how they can help you in disasters and power outages.
What are solar battery backups?
Solar energy systems, as you probably know, involve solar panels which are attached to your business’s or home’s roof. When exposed to adequate sunlight, solar panels will generate electricity from the light, providing it directly to your home and allowing you to meet at least some of your home or business’s power needs without having to pay for external power from your utility company. Sometimes, you’ll even be producing more than you need, and can actually sell excess power back to the power company!
However, a solar system on its own does have times when it will stop working, and you’ll need a battery backup for your home battery.
Why does solar power stop working when the power goes out?
There are a lot of reasons why solar battery backups can be helpful, but one of the most common is to allow you to power your home even during power outages.
Somewhat counterintuitively, most solar systems are not going to continue working during power outages unless they have a solar battery backup attached to their system. Gosunpro.com explains that this is because most solar systems are “grid tied,” or, in other words, they are wired into your power company’s grid. This has some benefits, but the occasional problem you’ll run into is that a grid-wide power outage will also take your solar panels offline.
This can be a problem when natural disasters or accidents occur, and it also means that your solar production system will be at the mercy of maintenance or other work being done on the grid. Fortunately, a solar battery backup system is an effective solution to this problem!
What are the benefits of solar battery storage?
When you have a battery backup system for your solar energy system, your system will not only produce backup power while the grid is working, but it will also save any excess energy to the energy storage system, giving you a backup source of power to rely on whenever the power goes out for everyone else. This is particularly useful if you live in an area where blackouts are common, or if you have to keep the backup power on for critical systems in your home or business. Even something simple like making sure your frozen goods don’t go bad might be enough reason to invest in this kind of backup energy storage.
Do you need solar panels to have a backup battery installed?
Not necessarily. Some companies will install batteries without the full solar system, if you request it. These batteries will still work as an emergency backup system, but the downside is that they will have no way of recharging while the grid is down: you’ll be able to charge while the power is normal, and use them when the power goes out, but you can’t rely on them to continue to generate additional power after that initial backup charge.
Solar panel systems, on the other hand, can connect to your batteries and continue to recharge them even when the grid is non-functional for a time. This means that batteries installed along with a solar panel system will likely last you longer in an emergency, but batteries installed without a system will still be better than nothing!
How many battery backups should my system have?
According to SolarReviews.com, an average home will be able to comfortably get through most power outages with one or two backup batteries. However, this is only assuming that you want the most important systems in your home to run, such as the lights and fridge and/or freezer. Most batteries are not intended to run every single appliance in your home at once, so if you are looking to make sure your heating and air conditioning can stay running at full strength while a power outage is ongoing, you may end up needing even more batteries so that your home has enough energy in store.
The same goes for businesses; smaller ones may be able to keep the most important systems running, such as lights, freezers, storage, or other key functions, with only one or two batteries. However, you will probably need more than just that battery or two if you hope to keep things running business as usual during a power outage.
When you are looking at battery backups, make sure that you communicate with the seller and installer about which of your home or business’s needs will have to be covered in the event of a power outage, and you should be able to figure out how many batteries will be needed for your particular situation.
What solar batteries are compatible with my panels?
Just like with the number of batteries you’ll need, the type of battery which is best for you and your system can also vary. Some systems may work the best with certain types of batteries, and others may have several possible options that could work well for them. SemperSolaris.com explains that lithium-ion batteries are some of the best kinds for energy efficiency and capacity, but lead-acid batteries will be cheaper and more affordable. Once again, this is going to depend on your panels’ systems, and you’ll likely want to communicate with your solar company of choice in order to find the best solution for you.
How much do solar battery backups cost?
Generally, battery backups will cost around $7,000 to $15,000 without installation, and around $13,000 to $20,000 with professional installation.
However, it’s important to remember that many states offer incentives and/or tax credits that may change the price for you, and there is also a 26% federal “solar tax credit” which covers solar backup batteries as well as the rest of the solar panel system. You’ll want to check what incentives or credits are available in your state in order to see what else you might be able to do to bring down the overall price; many solar companies will know what is available in your area, if you contact them, and many even help you by completing any necessary paperwork in order to get those incentives once you’ve made a purchase.
Once you’ve bought solar battery backup systems (however many you need), you’ll also want to consider the installation. While it is possible to install backup batteries on your own in many cases, it’s sometimes worth your while to let the professionals take care of it, especially if you don’t have much experience in that area yourself.
Different companies and systems will obviously have a variety of prices that they charge for the installation services, and the price will also depend on some other factors. For instance, the quality or type of battery that you decide to go with, and whether or not your home or business has its own inverter or will need one installed with the battery (batteries generate DC power, but electrical appliances need AC power. Inverters convert DC to AC).
Is a solar battery or solar generator better when the power goes out?
You might be wondering whether there are any other options for these kinds of emergency situations; as it turns out, solar electricity generators are another, similar method of keeping a backup source of power ready to go in case you experience a blackout. These generators are typically smaller, portable batteries which can be connected to some solar panels in order to store solar production. They are not usually connected right to your home, or to the power grid, so they won’t be affected by blackouts. Most such generators are built with outlets so that you can power your critical appliances directly when needed.
The main difference between solar generators and solar backup batteries is that the batteries can be connected directly to your home or business’s power, allowing you to keep on not only the appliances that you need, but also the lights and, if you have enough batteries, potentially even the heating and/or air conditioning. Solar generators are a much cheaper solution (usually under $2000 per generator) but are intended to work only for specific appliances as needed.
You’ll be able to use both a backup battery system and a generator or two if you want to mix these options, of course!
Conclusion: How can solar power help you prepare for disasters and outages?
In conclusion, solar panel systems aren’t going to be a perfect solution for disasters and power outages on their own, but solar electricity backup batteries are an add-on that can really help you be prepared for those situations. If you’re concerned about these possibilities, you should definitely consider looking at these batteries as an option.