One of the decisions that homeowners have to make about their solar system is whether to get a battery backup. These batteries can store energy from your solar panels, providing power when the local grid is down or when your solar panels are not actively capturing and converting electricity (such as at night or on a cloudy day). Installing a battery backup does add to the overall cost of your system, so homeowners need to understand what they are getting and what other costs might be associated with a solar battery.
A residential solar energy system uses photovoltaic panels to capture energy from sunlight by activating electrons from atoms, but those panels create direct current (DC) energy, but your home uses alternating current (AC). To translate the DC energy to usable energy your system needs an inverter. The challenge when shopping for a battery backup system is knowing which systems come with built-in inverters, and which will need a separate inverter for the system to work properly.
Even if your battery backup doesn’t come with an inverter, you can purchase a separate one to install as part of your overall residential solar system. However, it’s important to know that batteries with built-in inverters tend to be more efficient. The reason is that every time energy is transferred between systems you will lose some of it, meaning your panels need to produce more solar energy to account for that loss.
Most companies that produce batteries for solar energy systems don’t offer a built-in inverter. There is one exception: the Tesla Powerwall 2 has the option to get a built-in inverter, and is currently the only one available in the U.S. with that option. It has other benefits in addition to the efficiency—installers have more flexibility to figure out how to install and design the system, and there is one less thing to install on a wall in your garage or basement as part of your system. The finished look is sleek and you don’t need to have an advanced knowledge of energy conversion to benefit from this battery backup.
There are other options for batteries that don’t include the inverter inside the battery, or ones that include storage inverters only. There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, so talk to Intermountain Wind and Solar to find out more about which one would be best for you.
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