A guide to batteries
There are typically two main reasons guiding the decision to purchase batteries. The first reason is to further increase the energy savings achieved through a solar system. The second reason is creating independence, by reducing your reliance on the grid, especially if the supply is unreliable.
Installing batteries can have a positive impact on your energy bill, you may see results like Kevin, a Brighte customer who installed batteries with his solar system. He suggests “being able to store energy during the day, and use it at night means you are not at the mercy of your electricity provider”
While batteries, can be a great investment, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions.
The necessity of a battery will depend on your household energy needs and budget. To make an informed decision you should first understand the amount of energy you are consuming and at what time of day.
The greatest benefit of a battery comes during the early evening hours when electricity is most expensive on a Time of Use (ToU) tariff. Reducing your evening usage will impact your electricity bill. If this is unavoidable, then a battery might just be the thing for you.
A great way to determine if a battery is right for you is to determine if the battery will “pay for itself” before the end of its warranty period. The payback period is the time it takes for a battery to pay for itself with savings in your energy bills. While a battery may make sense in theory, the economic cost may outweigh the theoretical benefits.
Battery schemes can be a great way to upgrade your system with less cost.
In addition, Energy Saver NSW has pulled together some great fact sheets.
What are the benefits of a battery?
Batteries add an additional layer of self-sufficiency.
Instead of planning your daily energy consumption around the sun, use your solar power at a time that suits you, including during peak periods where electricity is more expensive. Further cost savings can also be achieved by charging your battery from the grid at off-peak rates.
By using the power you generate during the day, you will further reduce your power bill as your reliance on the grid decreases. Also, some batteries can provide backup if there is a power outage.
Batteries also have a positive effect on the environment. The ability to store solar energy for use at a later point in time provides a clean and green source of energy that reduces your carbon footprint.
How do batteries charge?
Battery storage typically works by collecting and storing all of the surplus energy created by your solar panels; that is once all of your household consumption requirements have been met. When the time comes for this stored energy to be used (typically as the sun goes down), the energy stored is released through an inverter where it is converted to alternating current (AC) and used in your home.
What size batteries would I need?
The battery size depends partly on your household consumption, as well as how large a solar system you have installed. As the homeowner, it’s important to consider if you want to size the system to support just enough for the evening peak period, or enough to keep you going throughout the night. Make sure if you have a solar system already, that you are monitoring your consumption to understand when and how you are using the energy.
The NSW government has created a factsheet on choosing a home solar battery.
How do I dispose of a battery?
At the end of a batteries life, you will need to choose a responsible company to come and collect the battery. The disposal of a battery depends on the type; used lead-acid batteries are disposed of differently to used lithium-ion batteries.
You will need to identify what type of battery you have, to determine the best avenue for disposal.
The Clean Energy Council and Australian Battery Recycling Initiative has provided a break down of disposal of batteries depending on the type and state regulations (PDF).
Are batteries safe?
A battery system should consider a number of important safety considerations. Clean Energy Council Australia’s has information on battery safety.
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