What is solar energy storage? Do I need one? And under what circumstances a solar energy storage system is recommended? These are some of the questions solar shoppers may ask themselves or energy advisors before going solar. Let’s answer them one by one.
A solar energy storage system, in simple words, means batteries. Solar panels draw their power from the sun, a giant bulb. But the sun isn’t always shining above solar panels, thus no electricity is produced during the nighttime. What to do? Solar homeowners use solar energy storage systems to cater to their needs when solar panels stop their operation. During the daytime, the excess power that solar panels generate is fed into batteries. Come a blackout or night, batteries keep you powered!
Do you need a solar energy storage system? It depends. If you want to have a grid-tied system, meaning that if you want to remain connected to your grid, no, you don’t need one. But if you want to go off-grid, yes, you would need a good solar storage energy system. But this will cost you a little more.
You can also choose to remain connected to your grid as well as batteries. That is called a hybrid system. You don’t need a huge battery system as your night’s needs are covered by your grid. This is one of the most preferred arrangements for solar homeowners to go with.
Talking about the types of batteries, the market is flooded with different types of batteries, each calling itself the best. Let’s see which one could work best for your system.
Lead-acid batteries are a tried-and-tested technology, serving the car industry and off-grid solar power system for decades. As compared to its competitors, this solar storage system is less expensive and works well for a home that wants to go off-grid cost-effectively. Their downside is, they have a shorter life-span and lower depth of discharge— the amount of battery’s capacity that can be used.
Unlike their lead-acid counterparts, solar energy storage systems made up of lithium-ion batteries are more compact and lighter. They have a higher depth of discharge and a longer lifespan. More importantly, they don’t require refills and maintenance. If you want your batteries to work for a longer period, lithium is the best choice for you. However, they are expensive as compared to lead-acid batteries.
While not popular like lead-acid and lithium-ion, flow batteries are making their presence felt everywhere. They are suitable for long-duration storage, with no limitation on its cycle. In fact, some developers opine that the flow battery’s technology has no cycling limitations, and can be charged and discharged altogether without having a significant impact on its lifespan. They have the highest depth of discharge and can tolerate extreme temperatures. Their downside is, they are more expensive than both lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries.