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Solar batteries and how they work Explained

by Victor

Many homes now have solar panels. It’s a beautiful system designed to save the home owners and occupiers money by utilising the solar from the sun, to convert to power for their homes. Unfortunately, these items only work during day light hours and are said to also not work when sunlight is limited, for example in such instances as cloudy days, rain etc.

With household bills being as high as they are and seeming to climb at every quarter, it’s not surprising a lot of households are seeking measures to save money. It’s also better for the environment as it harnesses a natural resource from our inter galactic neighbour, the sun.

The sun produces an immense amount of energy. It’s estimated that it makes energy at the speed of 4.26 million metric tons per second. To break that down in to simpler terms, that’s enough power in one single hour for our whole planet to use in one year. That’s really mind-blowing!

An option to conserve even more power and tap into that stored energy during those times is a battery for solar. They are a great ay to continue to use the suns energy rather than that from the grid.

But, how exactly do they work?

You can store the electricity produced by your solar panels for usage at night thanks to battery storage. Any electricity that a typical solar-powered home does not need is distributed to the grid. The household receives a feed-in tariff as compensation from the power company.

When you combine solar panels with a battery system, the extra electricity is kept by the battery rather than being sent to the grid. When your solar panels are not producing electricity, you can use this power, which will enable you to purchase considerably less electricity from the grid.

This dramatically reduces the amount of electricity you’ll be using from large corporate companies, meaning there is more money in your pocket and less pressure on the environment.

Where do they put this battery?

Your solar battery can be erected either indoors or outdoors, in line with Australian Standards. They are kept out of direct sunlight and generally the garage is the best place for them.

How big are they?

The size needed for your home may vary. This will be dependant on a number of factors. Some of the considerations factored into battery size are if you already have solar panels or if you’re getting them installed.

Whatever the case, you’ll probably need a battery with a capacity of at least 10kWh, more likely up to 13.5 kWh, if you already have a 5kW system or are looking to buy one. Depending on how much electricity you regularly use during daylight hours, you’ll need to know the exact battery size.

Depending on where you reside in Australia, a 5kW solar power system normally generates between 17 and 21 kWh per day. Most consumers feedback about two-thirds of a system’s output, or about 13 kWh per day, onto the grid. Instead, you might use this 13kWh to store your solar energy in a battery.

How much do they cost and are there any rebates?

A 10kWh battery system would cost around $7,000 and a 5kWh battery system would cost roughly $3,500 in todays climate. As a general estimation, it may cost around $1,000 – $2,000 per kWh storage capacity.

Some states in Australia may have rebates available, although unfortunately not all of them. A few may offer loans or rebates, whilst currently others are not offering any incentive.

A battery storage unit connected to a new or existing rooftop solar PV system can be installed at no cost to Australian Capital Territory residents and businesses through the ACT Government Household Battery Storage initiative. For homes, the battery rebate is either $3,500 (exclusive of GST) or 50% of the battery’s cost (exclusive of GST), whichever is lower.

In Victoria, the rebate is up to $3500, although there are some boxes to tick. You must be the owner and live in the property and your home can’t be worth more than $3million dollars. It’s also means tested, so your total household income can’t be more than $180,000. You need to currently have a solar panel system of a minimum of 5kW or in the process of getting them and not to have previously received a rebate.

In the Northern Territory the rebate is up to $6000 and some selection criteria needs to be met. You need own the property and either have solar panels or be buying them with the battery.

Meanwhile in South Australia, you must be linked to the grid and either be the owner or have the owner’s permission. The rebate is up to $2000. There are also low interest loans available, which are funded by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

New South Wales have loans available, up to $9000 for a battery if you have solar panels and $14000 if you are getting the panels and battery simultaneously.  Both loans are interest free. As with all loans, there is criteria to be addressed. You need to be the home owner and live in the home and earn less than $180000 combined. Only particular locations are eligible for these loans.

The remaining states of Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania do not currently offer rebates for solar batteries.

Are they actually worth it?

The initial outlay may be quite costly if you’re not eligible for any assistance. Each household’s finances is an individual and personal matter and will have their own unique factors to consider. With that being said, the actual concept of a solar battery makes perfect sense. You start paying for your electricity without a battery as soon as the sun sets. In contrast, a battery gives you the assurance that you are in complete control of your electricity, making blackouts obsolete. Additionally, when your system includes a battery, your financial savings improve dramatically.

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