Do I Need Battery Energy Storage for My Solar Panels? Here’s How To Decide

As solar energy becomes more popular, many homeowners, business owners, and farmers are considering adding batteries to their solar arrays.

Solar panels alone can significantly reduce electricity bills and environmental impact, but integrating batteries can result in even more savings by allowing you to store excess energy that your solar panels create to use later. However, the decision whether to add batteries comes with some considerations, such as the higher cost.

Could a battery energy storage system be the right solution for your solar array? Let’s explore how they work, the advantages and disadvantages, and factors to consider when making your decision.

What Is a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS)?

Battery energy storage refers to systems that retain the energy your solar panels produce so that you can use it later. When you have battery storage, your solar panels store the power you don’t immediately use in your battery until your home, business, or farm needs it.

Then, when you’re not producing energy but need it, such as at night or on a cloudy day, you can tap into the stored energy to meet your electricity needs.

There are many ways to store energy, but many home solar battery storage systems use lithium-ion batteries, the same material of battery that’s used in cellphones, laptops, electric vehicles, and many other products. Other less common options include lead-acid batteries, nickel-based batteries, and sodium-based batteries.

What Are the Benefits of Battery Energy Storage for Solar?

Battery energy storage allows solar users to tap into saved solar power when they need it, as well as have a backup during a power outage — or even give them full independence from the energy grid.

Here are the main benefits of a battery energy storage system.

  1. Energy storage: The ability to store excess energy generated during the day for use during peak demand or at night when solar production is low allows you to reduce your reliance on the grid by consuming more of the energy you create. It can even help you be completely independent from the grid.
  2. Backup power: Batteries are a reliable source of backup power during grid outages. This can be particularly beneficial for areas prone to frequent power cuts or for homeowners who prioritize uninterrupted electricity supply for essential appliances.
  3. Time-of-use optimization: In regions with time-of-use electricity pricing, batteries enable you to store solar energy when rates are low and discharge it when rates are high, helping to minimize electricity costs over time.
  4. Financial incentives: The same 30% federal tax credit for solar systems also applies to any battery energy storage system that you install along with it. Learn about more financial incentives here.
  5. Alleviating the grid: Battery energy storage reduces the amount of energy you’re sending through the electricity grid during peak solar production hours. It also reduces the amount of energy you need to draw from the grid during peak consumption hours. This helps alleviate stress on the grid during periods of high demand.

What Are the Cons of Solar Batteries?

When you’re deciding whether to add battery energy storage, it’s important to weigh the pros with the cons. Here are some of the disadvantages that may arise from adding a battery storage system.

  1. Cost: The upfront cost of purchasing and installing batteries can be significant, adding to the overall expense of a solar energy system. While prices have been declining in recent years, batteries still represent a substantial investment for many homeowners.
  2. Maintenance: Batteries require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. This may include monitoring and managing battery health, performing software updates, and occasional replacement of worn-out components, adding to the ongoing maintenance costs of the system.
  3. Space requirements: Depending on the size and type of batteries you choose, they can require a significant amount of space for installation. For homeowners with limited space availability, finding suitable locations for batteries may pose a challenge.
  4. Technology evolution: The field of battery storage is rapidly evolving, with advancements in technology and decreasing costs. Opting to install batteries now may mean missing out on future innovations that could offer improved performance or lower prices.

Do I Need a Battery Storage System?

If you’re trying to decide whether adding a battery energy storage system to your solar array would be beneficial, it’s helpful to think through the following considerations.

Your System Size & Energy Usage

If your solar panel installation only offsets a portion of your energy costs and is not large enough to regularly produce more electricity than you need during peak times, then battery storage may not be a worthwhile investment for you.

On the other hand, if you regularly produce more energy than you can consume and need to purchase additional energy during off-peak sunlight hours to compensate, then it’s worth looking into battery energy storage as an option.

Your Potential Savings

The largest factor to consider is the cost. Installing a battery at the same time as your solar system is the most cost-effective approach, but it could add thousands of dollars to your system’s price tag, depending on its size.

If the overall cost of a battery is higher than simply purchasing energy from the grid when you need it, then it likely isn’t the right choice for you. If it will result in long-term savings, however, then it’s an option to consider.

Other Cost-Saving Arrangements

When weighing costs, it’s important to take into account other cost-saving arrangements that may be available to you. If you are already taking advantage of net metering, then you are already receiving financial benefits for your excess energy. This should play into your decision when you weigh the potential cost of adding battery energy storage.

If you don’t have access to net metering in your state, it may be advantageous to look to battery energy storage if you are not going to receive compensation at the retail rate for excess energy that you produce. At 1 Source Solar, our team will help you run a cost-benefit analysis to determine the best course of action for your situation.

How to Start Saving Long-Term With Battery Energy Storage

The best way to get started with battery installation is to talk with a trusted solar professional to discuss the variety of factors that will play into your decision and decide what’s best for you.

At 1 Source Solar, we’re passionate about helping every solar user we work with know the pros and cons of their choices and help them determine what’s best. We work with each of our clients to produce a no-cost savings analysis to help in the decision-making process. To reach out to one of our solar specialists, send us a message today!