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Your guide to solar batteries: The life and disposal of a battery

While solar batteries can be a great investment, it's important to ask yourself some key questions when deciding if it's the right move for you.

By Carly Nichols

29 April 2019

There are typically two main moti behind the decision to purchase a solar battery: the desire to increase energy savings achieved through a solar system, and to enhance independence by reducing reliance on the grid, especially if the supply is unreliable.  

Installing solar batteries can have a positive impact on your energy bill. Kevin, a Brighte customer who installed batteries with his solar system, suggests that "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 solar batteries can be a great investment, it's important to ask yourself the following questions when deciding if it's the right move for you.

How much energy is my household consuming?

The necessity of a solar battery will depend on your household energy needs and budget. In order 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 can impact your electricity bill. If reducing your usage isn't possible, then a solar battery might just be the thing for you. 

A great way to determine if a battery is right for you is to work out 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 cost may outweigh the theoretical benefits.

Brighte suggests you research if your state has a solar battery scheme available. Battery rebates and incentives can be a great way to upgrade your system at a lower cost. In addition, Energy Saver NSW has pulled together some great fact sheets.

What are the benefits of a solar battery?

Batteries add an additional layer of self-sufficiency. Instead of planning your daily energy consumption around the sun, batteries allow you to 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 more of the power that you generate during the day, you can reduce your reliance on the grid and further reduce your power bill. Some solar batteries can also 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.

Diagram of household with solar

Energy Saver NSW: How home solar batteries work

How do solar batteries charge? 

Battery storage typically works by collecting and storing all of the surplus energy created by your solar panels 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) to be used in your home. 

What size battery do I need? 

The right solar battery size for you depends on your household consumption, as well as the size of your solar panel system. As the homeowner, it's important to consider if you want your system to provide just enough energy for the evening peak period, or enough to keep you going throughout the night. If you have a solar system already, make sure that you are monitoring your consumption to understand when and how you are using the energy. 

For more information, the NSW government has created a factsheet on choosing a home solar battery

How do I dispose of a solar battery?  

At the end of a solar battery's life, you will need to choose a responsible company to come and collect it. The correct disposal of a battery depends on the type: used lead-acid batteries are disposed of differently than 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 have provided a breakdown of the disposal of batteries depending on the type and state regulations

Are solar batteries safe? 

There are a number of important safety considerations when it comes to home batteries. The Clean Energy Council has answered some frequently asked questions on solar and batteries, including battery safety, here.

Looking to buy solar batteries? find a Brighte accredited vendor.

The information provided in this article is general in nature and does not constitute advice. Please consider your own personal circumstances prior to making any decisions.