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Solar Batteries – Make and Store Your Own Energy

Solar Batteries – Make and Store Your Own Energy
April 3, 2017 Kozco

About 15% of Australian homes now use solar energy as a sustainable source of electrical power. And according to predictions from experts, this number will only grow in years to come. This comes as high electricity costs, in addition to climate change, push more entities towards switching to renewable energy. Solar batteries can store solar energy for use when sunlight isn’t present. This makes Solar Energy a far more viable and reliable source of energy for Adelaide homes and businesses.

Battery Background

Although lead-acid based batteries were invented over a hundred years ago, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the technology behind modern lithium ion cells was developed. Pioneers in this area discovered a way to store lithium ions within layers of other chemicals, and in a manner that allowed for the battery to be recharged. However, these cells would inevitably break down, or even explode, after some time.

Later on, experts singled out components that were more stable, besides having the ability to store larger amounts of energy. This made it possible to produce smaller batteries that were more user-friendly. Their successors are now available in a range of sizes. But even as lithium-ion cells continue to evolve, the pioneers are still hailed as geniuses within the field.

How do Solar Batteries Work?

Solar batteries work by storing the energy produced by the panels in the form of DC power. Although the concept is quite simple, some high-tech processes are involved. The components include:

Solar panels: Situated on the rooftop, these convert sunlight into electrical power. Most Australian homes use solar power systems ranging between 3kW and 15kW. Meanwhile, the number of solar panels varies from 10 to 50.

Battery: This stored the surplus power generated by panels during the day. Solar batteries may also connect to the grid when there’s need to store energy during off-peak hours.

Inverter: The battery stores electricity in the form of direct current, while household appliances need alternating current. The inverter converts DC power into AC, so that it can be utilised around the home.

Unlike regular lead-acid cells, solar batteries are designed to discharge at low voltages, over long periods. They can also be charged and recharged safely over numerous cycles. Because the typical warranty period falls around 5-10 years, solar batteries are a viable long-term investment and saving households thousands of dollars over the years.

Solar Battery Diagram

This simple diagram illustrates how solar batteries work to power your home. The Solar panels harness the suns energy, which is stored in a battery, and then utilised in the home through a converter so the energy can be accessed as AC electricity.

Earth with solar and wind power

Clean energy that relies on the elements (wind and sun) has traditionally been considered unreliable as it depends on the presence sunshine and wind. Solar batteries help mitigate the unreliability of clean energy by storing clean energy for times when the elements are not producing energy.

The Evolution of Solar Storage Systems

Although the solar energy storage solutions have been available for years, they’ve mainly been confined to enthusiasts. The main reasons for the lack of wider adoption in the past include:

-High prices of deep-cycle batteries and other components

-Cumbersome equipment that required a great deal of knowledge to operate and maintain

So, what’s fuelling the shift towards renewable energy sources? The answer is the rapid evolution of solar battery technology. The new generation of energy storage equipment is not only more cost effective, but it’s also more appealing to the eye. But there’s more. Thanks to plentiful sunshine, many parts of Australia are perfectly suited for solar energy harvesting and storage. The country is thus expected to become one of the biggest markets for battery storage in the near future.

See the Wikepedia Article on Solar Batteries for further information

What are the Types of Solar Batteries?

In recent years, many different battery technologies have emerged onto the market. While most are specifically designed for residential use, the right choice will depend on specific requirements and factors. Knowing the different types of solar battery storage systems available in the market will help you pick one that suits your own situation.

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries have been around for decades, and are the most common of all battery types. These batteries use grids of metallic lead for electrodes, with the electrolyte being dilute sulfuric acid. When properly sized, wet cells are ideal for low-cost standalone applications. However, the batteries also need regular maintenance, which typically includes:

-Checking electrolyte levels

-Topping up with distilled water to avoid drying out

-Cleaning the surface

– Boost charging to prevent acid stratification.

In Australia, lead-acid cells must be kept in their own storage compartment, away from other pieces of equipment. The area also needs to be well-ventilated to prevent gas build-up.

Gel Batteries

Also known as gel cells, modern gel batteries use a specially formulated paste to hold the electrolyte. This paste is made by combining fumed silica with sulfuric acid, with the result being a gel-like, immobile mass. Unlike their traditional lead-acid counterparts, gel batteries are non-spill able, and don’t need to be kept upright. A proven technology in off-grid applications, gel cells are preferred for their high recharge efficiency, in addition to low installation and maintenance costs.

Lithium-ion Batteries

Most residential battery storage systems available in the market today use Li-ion (lithium-ion) technology. Because they’re lighter and smaller than lead-acid batteries, their energy density is vastly superior. The ability to discharge deeply on a regular basis is another notable benefit of lithium-ion batteries.

Still, no Australian standards have been developed on the use of Li-ion batteries for large, stationary applications. This is mainly because the technology is relatively new in this arena. That said, they could still be used for hybrid storage applications, as long as there’s a good battery management system in place. Also important is an effective temperature monitoring mechanism for purposes of minimizing the risk of fire.

Flow Batteries

These are quite common in large-scale commercial applications, something that could be attributed to their high efficiency. Compared to other types, flow batteries are friendlier to the environment. Their useful life typically spans a couple of decades, which equates to about 10,000 charging cycles. Because flow batteries use technologies that are somewhat complex, they may not be suitable for some areas. The lack of a recycling facility for this battery type in the country could also drive more Australians towards other alternatives.

Salt Water Batteries

Also known as sodium-ion analogue batteries, these store energy using saltwater-based chemistry. Besides being highly efficient, they’re also safe and relatively affordable. Most saltwater batteries however tend to be quite big and heavy, besides having a shorter life span.

How Much do Solar Batteries Cost?

In general, battery storage pricing ranges between $600 and $1200 for every kWh of capacity. As such, smaller battery units can be purchased for $2,000, while their larger counterparts start from around $10,000. Still, the systems need to be precisely sized to suit the requirements of a particular household. You may want to consult a specialist for an analysis of your options and a realistic quote for the package.

Solar Panels

Many Adelaide homes and businesses invest in Solar Panels. Solar batteries enable them to further utilise the energy that is generated from these panels.

How Much Can You Really Save with Solar Batteries?

Depending on the setup of your household, a solar battery system could reduce your mains grid electricity usage by 100%. For a more accurate figure, you will need an assessment of your individual circumstances, which could themselves vary with time. That said, a solar battery can still improve the economics of your panels by a significant margin.

In the past, most Australian homes with solar panels opted to feed as much power as they could to the grid, thanks to generous feed-in tariffs. The incentive is however dropping, as these feed-in schemes continue to be scaled back, or even halted, in recent times. This, coupled with the rising electricity prices, has forced homeowners to seek viable alternatives.

In light of these factors, solar battery storage systems will grow to become the best solution for residential electricity needs. Currently, the payback period for solar PV and battery systems falls between 4 and 9 years. Solar Battery storage is finally at a cost effective price, constantly being considered by more South Australians particularly when including back up protection in the event of a power failure.

In a nutshell battery storage is becoming more and more affordable with ROI percentages increasing rapidly. Solar storage solutions can eliminate your electricity bills.  They’re also ideal for properties situated in remote areas, especially when compared to using a generator over the long term.

For other examples of how homes can save energy, see the Energy Matters website.

Get a Free Quote on Solar Batteries for Your Adelaide Home or Business

If you are looking for a free quote for your Adelaide home or business, talk to Kozco energy group today. As energy efficiency consultants, We are able to come to your premises and asses the best type of Solar Batteries for your property that will save you the most in the long run. We offer a complete energy efficiency solution that includes Solar Panels, Solar Batteries, Efficient Air Conditioning, LED Lighting and much more. Contact us today on 1300 056 926 or complete the contact form and we will contact you:

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