Solar Power Battery Basics and Necessity

When it comes to a solar power setup on your property, the solar panels themselves are just one important piece of the puzzle. There are a few other vital components, one of which is the battery that stores the energy your panels are taking in for future use.

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're happy to provide a wide range of commercial and residential solar power services, featuring the Tesla Powerwall battery backup that boasts the most battery backup capacity on the solar market today. How do these and other solar batteries work, and why do you need one for your solar setup? Here's a quick primer.

How Solar Panel Systems Operate

To grasp the importance of a solar battery, it's good to understand how this component fits into the system at large. This system will contain your solar panels plus a solar inverter, then all the equipment needed to mount the system on the roof. In addition, it will contain a performance monitoring system and, in most cases, a battery.

In the majority of cases, solar panel systems will be connected to your local electrical grid, making them "grid-tied." In situations where they produce more power than needed for your home, excess power can be sent back to the grid using a process called net metering. This same process allows for you to obtain further power if your panels are not producing enough. In both cases, there's potential need for the storage of power for transfer – and this is where the battery comes in.

Battery Storage Method

When your system includes a high-capacity battery, it stores the energy produced by your panels. Instead of excess power being immediately sent back to the grid when your home doesn't need it, this power will first be diverted to the battery, which it will charge completely.

Only when the battery is fully charged, then, will the system begin to send excess power back into the grid. From here, though, this allows your system to have reserves of power always available, including at night when the sun's rays are not creating new power. The Tesla Powerwall battery, for instance, holds up to 14 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power, making it easily able to power a home through a full night or even many darker days where the sun is blocked.

Do You Need a Battery?

The biggest determinant of whether you should or should not install a battery as part of your solar panel system: How your utility company works in terms of net metering. A common approach is full net metering, which gives you a credit for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced – in these cases, the only reason you'd need a battery is if your system's capacity isn't large enough to power the home through an average night.

However, if your utility uses time-of-use rates, demand charges or any other program for net metering, or does not utilize this method at all, a battery will help with both overall power capacity and long-term energy savings, in which case it's a must.

For more on solar panel batteries and their value to your system, or to learn about any of our solar panel installation or solutions, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.

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