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Solar batteries: Are they worth the cost?

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battery storage system with Lumin Smart Panel

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Solar battery banks are an excellent way to get the most from a solar panel installation. The batteries will store any extra energy the solar panels produce so that electricity can be used to power a home at night or on a cloudy day. Oftentimes, however, the price of a storage system might make one wonder if it's worth the investment.

Should you purchase a storage system?

Though a storage system can be quite expensive, there are a number of benefits that could make the purchase worth the splurge.

Advantage 1: Live off-grid

When you see the words “off-grid”, you might picture a self-sustaining homestead somewhere remote with little proximity to cities or towns, and you would be right. However, another scenario in which a house could be off-grid is a home being powered by a battery bank system during a power outage or at night. Because solar batteries store excess electricity a solar panel produces during the day, it allows homes to remain powered on during those times of no sunlight. Without them, any extra energy produced by solar panels during peak production time will get sent back to the electrical grid, thus resulting in a home that needs to rely on its utility for electricity during a storm or in the evening hours.

Advantage 2: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Without a storage system, households have to rely on the grid for electricity at least once a day when the sun sets, and this energy is pulled from utilities that rely on fossil fuels to provide electricity. If you want to go the extra mile in your sustainable lifestyle, a battery bank is a great way to ensure your home continues to use green energy at night or on cloudy days.

Advantage 3: Electricity During an Outage

Most homeowners probably consider a backup battery to be able to have electricity during a storm outage or prolonged blackout. This is another great benefit of pairing a storage system with solar panels. What’s more, when a battery storage system is paired with a smart electrical panel, specific features like Lumin’s Smart Power Mode will automatically shed a home’s  largest energy-consuming circuits to preserve the battery’s life so homeowners can continue with life uninterrupted without having to worry about which appliances to turn off or keep on. Changes to which appliances remain off or on can also be made in real-time should specific circumstances result in the need for a different appliance, like keeping the stove on during a dinner party, for example.

In addition to automated load shedding, homeowners can receive energy usage insights to aid in efficient decision-making during an outage and beyond. 

Advantage 4: Savings On Your Energy Bill

If it isn’t clear enough already, not having to rely on the electrical grid at night or during an outage will inevitably lead to a lower electric bill. This is a great benefit to anyone who is interested in getting the most out of your storage system.

How much do battery banks cost?

There are many factors to consider when pricing a storage battery bank. Things like brand and the number of batteries an installation requires can all affect the final cost. 

Battery Storage Capacity Chemistry Cost*
SolarEdge Energy Bank 10.0 kWh Lithium nickel manganese $7,000
Enphase IQ 10.1 kWh Lithium-iron phosphate $7,000 to $9,000
Tesla Powerwall2 13.5 kWh Lithium-iron phosphate $8,500
sonnenCore 10.0 kWh Lithium-iron phosphate $9,500
LG RESU16H Prime 16.0 kWh Lithium-ion $9,500 to $13,000

*Costs are estimates before installation. Other equipment may also be necessary as part of the installation.

Things to consider when selecting a battery

1. Production Process

Battery manufacturers have many ways of creating their products, and like most manufactured items, various outlets in which they obtain the necessary tools to build their batteries. All of these factors, from acquiring hardware to producing batteries for specific uses (like residential only), ultimately affect how much a battery will cost.

2. Chemical Makeup

Depending on the chemistry of a storage battery, this can affect overall performance. Think in terms of maintenance and longevity. The longer an anticipated lifespan, the more expensive it will be.

3. Installation Quantity

Every home is unique in how much energy it uses. Depending on the amount of electricity your home requires will affect how many storage batteries will need to be installed. Of course, the more you install the higher the cost.

4. Costs of labor for battery installations

Much like a trip to the mechanic or getting a new appliance installed in a home, the amount of time and effort it takes for a professional to install a battery system in a home will add additional labor costs. Depending on the nature of the installation, namely, if it is being done at the time of a solar installation or after the fact, labor costs will vary.

5. Solar battery incentive programs

Each state offers different incentives for installations. A few state incentives will help to lower upfront costs, while other states offer property tax exemptions and sales tax exemptions. There is also the federal solar tax credit available in all 50 states through 2024. 

Check out the map below to see which incentives are offered in each state.

As an example of how solar battery incentives can influence the cost of a battery installation, take a look at the Tesla Powerwall installation example below.

Example: Tesla Powerwall cost in California in 2022

Component Estimated Cost
Powerwall2 Battery $8,500
Installation Cost $3,000 (average)
Shipping + Other Fees $3,500 (average)
Self-Generation Incentive Program -$2,000
Federal Solar Tax Credit -$4,500
Total Cost (approximate) $8,500

 

Is a solar battery installation worth it?

When it comes to deciding on whether or not to install a storage battery with your solar installation, there are many things to take into consideration. If one of your goals is to live off-grid or you have a strong desire to decarbonize your life, those could be strong contenders for taking the leap and installing a storage system. However, if you’re only interested in saving money on your monthly utility bill, installing a battery bank might not be worth it, especially if you can reap the benefits of solar tax credits or state and property tax exemptions.

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