Solar Battery Myth Buster

Arm yourself with the facts on solar batteries so that you are clued up when shopping around.

Myth: With a solar battery I can use as much power as I like at once.

Your solar battery can only power so much at once. Your battery power (kW) refers to how fast the battery can deliver energy to your home. The more powerful the battery, the faster it can deliver power to your home but the faster the battery will discharge.

If you use most of your energy in a small window then it may be beneficial to install a powerful battery such as the Tesla Powerwall at 7kW peak. However, depending on your individual needs and energy management, you may benefit from a battery that discharges slowly such as the Enphase.

Myth: I can put my solar battery anywhere

It’s important when buying a solar battery that you understand its IP rating. If it has an IP rating of 55 or over then it should be OK to place outside. Any battery with a rating lower than IP 55 would need to have a protective cover to ensure it’s safety from the elements.

You may also need to consider the positioning of your inverter in relation to your solar battery.  Adding additional cables to connect your battery to your inverter may cost you excess time and money.

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Myth: All solar batteries are the same

Different brands of batteries operate vastly different from one another. They vary in size, usable capacity, chemistry type and coupling.

The key things to consider when choosing a battery are:

  • The capacity and power of the battery.

The capacity is how much energy the battery can hold (measured in kWh), whereas the power of the battery is the rate at which the battery can deliver electricity at one time (measured in kW). A battery with a low capacity but a high power could run your entire home but for a short period of time. Whereas a battery with a high capacity and low power could run fewer things but for longer periods.

  • AC coupled vs DC coupled.

AC coupled batteries require an additional inverter, known as a ‘storage inverter’ to charge your solar battery. However, a DC coupled battery has an inbuilt inverter that directly charges your battery from your solar system.

  • Monitoring

Some batteries come with monitoring technology, where you can see how much energy your system is producing and storing. For example, when you install an Enphase battery you get access to their superior monitoring platform; Enlighten.

  • Modular

Want the option of growing your battery storage when your energy demand grows? Look for a battery that is modular. A modular battery means additional batteries can be added to increase storage size.

Myth: I automatically have blackout protection because I have a solar battery

A wonderful advantage of having a solar battery is that most batteries are fitted with blackout protection so that you are not left in the dark if the power from the grid stops. However, adding blackout protection comes with additional engineering and electronics to isolate your house from the grid. This additional work does usually include an additional fee prior to installation.

When shopping around for a battery it’s important to ask if the battery you are buying is capable of blackout protection and what level of protection it provides.

Myth: I should buy a battery at the same time as buying my solar PV system

Solar panel and battery systems are not a ‘one size fits all’ product. Your system should be tailored to you and your households’ energy consumption. We recommend that before jumping in and purchasing a complete solar panel system and battery package, you take the time to talk with one of our solar specialists who can analyse your energy consumption and determine if a solar battery is right for you.

For instance, if nobody is home during the day and you use all your power in the evening, we would recommend a solar battery. We also look at the number of people in your household and analyse your energy bill to see your current usage rates. This allows us to confidently recommend the right energy storage solution for you.

Myth : I should buy the biggest battery available

If your system currently sends back to the grid 5kW of energy per day, you wouldn’t buy a Tesla battery with the capacity of 13.5kW. Simply because you will never manage to fill up the battery with power.

If you are considering upgrading your solar panel system in a few years, look for a battery that is modular so that you can add on battery storage as your energy production grows.

Myth : With a battery I can be completely off the grid

In most homes your solar system is currently connected to the grid to feed in your excess power and to draw from it when there is excess demand. As a consumer staying connected to the grid resolves any shortfall between the energy you are storing and the energy you need.

For example, if your battery runs out of energy overnight, the grid lets you keep things running until the sun comes back up. You will also be safe in the knowledge that you will always have power regardless of the weather conditions.