If you have been enjoying solar panels for a while, there are plenty of reasons why you might be considering whether to upgrade your system with more panels or a battery. Perhaps the family has grown and your home’s energy usage has gone up. Perhaps you have been enjoying Premium Feed-in Tariffs you will no longer have access to, opening the possibility of change. Regardless of the reason, your existing solar setup might not be suitable for your needs anymore – where to go next?
No one can deny the financial and environmental benefits of solar power alone. However, the idea behind solar storage solutions is to reduce your reliance on the grid a step further, making your solar energy available to use even when the sun’s not shining.
Tens of thousands of Australians are installing solar batteries
Despite its challenges, 2021 is set to mark another strong year for home battery installations. Since the advancements of the technology behind solar batteries has made them bigger and more accessible, it comes as no surprise that the trend shows more and more Australians are installing solar batteries. The data for the first two quarters of 2021 shows an estimated total of 35,535 new batteries installed, overtaking the previous 2012 record.
In 2020 alone, 23,796 households installed a solar battery, out of which almost 35% were added at the same time as solar panels. With the current rate of installations, we are likely to see these numbers keep increasing. But why?
Image credit: Clean Energy Regulator data, Australian Energy Council analysis, August 2021
Batteries vs panels
Solar batteries have come a long way since the technology became first available to us. Powerful features complement the monetary decision to install a battery, with benefits like 24/7 system monitoring, blackout protection, modular extendable capacity, amongst others. For the most part, none of this is possible by simply adding more panels.
Hence, a solar battery not only will store excess power you would have exported to the grid otherwise, but it opens possibilities to maximise your solar investment. As a matter of fact, an average household with a right-sized battery solution could see a boost in solar energy usage from around 25% to up to 80%. Using more free energy from the Sun will decrease your consumption from the grid (and your electricity bills). And when the grid fails, blackout protection will keep your essential appliances running and your lights on.
Modern, modular battery designs – allowing the battery’s capacity to increase in the future if needed, also overcome the limitation of available roof space, shading or available inverter capacity you need to consider when adding more solar panels to your system.
One final consideration for the case of batteries is making sure you already export enough to fill its capacity. If not, it would be worth adding more panels at the time of installing a battery. Solar is not a one-size-fits-all kind of solution, so be wary of any company that offers a battery or more panels without trying to understand your home’s energy consumption patterns and what you already pay for power.
The real question in the debate goes beyond panels OR batteries: How can you maximise your energy independence by increasing the usage of solar energy at home in the most cost-effective way?
Generate more power… get lower Feed-in Tariffs?
Back in 2008, all Australian governments agreed that small-scale solar generators have the right to export electricity to the grid in return for a payment called the Feed-in Tariff (FiT). Premium tariffs of up to 60 cents per kWh certainly helped to cement our solar installation boom – selling excess solar for these prices was definitely worth investing into.
However, FiT’s have significantly decreased in value across the board since then. For example, the FiT in Victoria is now down to 6.7c/kWh, its lowest since 2016. Similarly, the benchmark rate 2021/22 for New South Wales is 4.6 – 5.5 c/kWh. This should not be a problem on its own, as lower FiT’s would only mean the return on investment takes a bit longer. Reality is though, Australians pay exorbitant electricity retail rates from the grid, so not only are you left waiting longer for a return on investment, but you are also slammed with high electricity bills coming from your consumption when solar is not producing (like at night). The key to save then, is to buy less electricity from your retailer.
The average Australian household does not use all the solar energy produced by their rooftop installation over a day, especially in Summer when our days are so long. All of the energy you generate and don’t use, gets irremediably sold to the grid for less than what you will pay to buy it back in the evening. That is unless you have somewhere to store that excess energy, so you can use it when you need it.
A battery might be for you
As we mentioned above, without a battery you can only use your own electricity when it’s being generated. You still rely on the grid at other times. A battery gives you greater independence from the grid, so much that you could power your home at night or when unexpected interruptions happen through blackout protection. Extending the use of your free energy also means you pay less to your retailer, keeping more money in your pocket. And, if you ever want to, modular architecture lets you expand your battery’s capacity, future-proofing your investment.
Talk to us today and find out the perfect battery solution for your energy needs.