by Carter Toni

One of the pillars of progress throughout humanity’s existence is energy. In all its forms, energy has driven advancement and innovation throughout the ages. The proof of its importance lies in the global upward trend in energy demand. Added to that is the general awareness that we need to better care for our environment. Consequently, there is also a collective shift in altering our energy sources. The increased prevalence of the use of solar power and related products to power the home serves as evidence of this movement.

How Do Solar Panels Work? 

Currently, the primary method of harnessing solar power for use in the home is with solar panels. They work by generating electricity from sunlight hitting the panels. This electric charge then moves into an inverter through a conductive wire positioned at the edge of each panel. At this point, the inverter’s purpose is to transform the direct current (DC) to the more conventional alternating current (AC) typically used to power appliances throughout your home. This form then moves into the home’s breaker box, from where the circuitry distributes it to the various electric points. Afterwards, any excess generated electricity gets transferred to the main grid through the utility meter.

Another alternative is to ‘store’ whatever electricity you generate from the panels in batteries. This combination of solar and batteries presents significant benefits to the end-user, primarily increased savings on energy costs. Additionally, increased reliability and availability in low production periods comes a close second.

Beyond the ability to store what you produce, the use of a solar home battery system is also cheaper. It affords you a greater measure of freedom from the energy retailers who often stand to benefit from Feed-in-tariffs (FITs) paid to homeowners that supply their excess solar-generated electricity to the primary power grid. The government calculates these FITs according to a certain rate per kilowatt/hour. The number has been declining since its peak amount of 60cents per kWh in 2009. Today, there are rates as low as 6 cents for every kWh cycled back into the grid. Therefore, with the retailers’ charge of 45 cents per kWh, they stand to profit significantly from solar panel homeowners.

Why Aren’t Solar Batteries More Widely Used? 

Despite its advantages, solar battery technology has been lagging behind the corresponding panels for a long time. But there is a major push to catch up as more companies begin turning their attention toward creating solar batteries. This attention shift is driven by increased consumer demand as people find more uses for solar energy, thus searching for viable storage methods.

Now, with more companies driving innovation and creating a more diverse range of solar batteries, there is a resultant decline in the cost of these products. So, you can find a state-of-the-art battery of your choice today, which costs less than what you would have paid for it two or three years ago. Moreover, it is likely to contain more features than its previous iterations.

How Do You Select the Right Battery Technology For Your Home? 

Currently, there are two key products available on the market:

  • The Alternating Current (AC) home battery from Tesla.
  • The DIrect Current (DC) battery.

The Tesla Powerwall Home Battery System’s design compels you to fit it on the grid side of the home. Consequently, you don’t even need a solar panel system to utilise this product. You can set it up to ‘collect’ and store electricity during off-peak periods when it is cheaper, then release it into the home for use at peak periods. This way, you gain a measure of control over your energy costs and keep them low.

On the other hand, the DC battery system comprises three components: a hybrid inverter, the battery and solar panels. As mentioned above, the inverter facilitates current conversion from DC to AC to make it useable in the home. It also charges the batteries. Finally, the manufacturer installs a Battery Management System (BMS) that manages the battery to keep the pars at optimum operation.

Both the AC and DC batteries can supply power when there is a blackout, thus giving some additional assurance that your power supply will remain uninterrupted.

Are Solar Battery Costs Matching the Reduced Solar Trend? 

Like most new technologies, the cost was the primary deterrent for installing solar panels. When innovators first introduced them, the price of a 1.5kW solar system would be $12,000. This amount would translate to an overall cost of $80,000 for a 10kW system today, thus rendering solar power inaccessible to the majority of the population.

Solar panel costs have found a saving grace in increased demand. Therefore, the more popular and widely used the technology, the lower its costs. Higher manufacturing volumes of all components partly drive this trend. As a result, you can get a perfectly adequate 10 to 12 kW system today for the same price as a 1.5 kW one 14 years ago.

Technological improvements also increased the wattage capacities of residential solar panels to a recent average of 400W without a need for larger panels.

There is a clear downward trend in solar battery prices. This reduction corresponds with the observations made for their solar power counterparts, down to the primary reason driving the shift. Therefore, as more manufacturers begin to offer solar batteries to meet the demand, product costs will continue to lower accordingly.

Why Should You Buy A Solar Battery? 

There are numerous inducements to considering the purchase of a solar home battery, including:

  • More costs savings when using a combined battery and solar panel installation.
  • The reduced Feed-In-Tariff benefits will no longer be a hindrance.
  • You will be better positioned if the proposed ‘Solar Tax’ legislation goes into effect.

The use of solar home batteries may be a trend that is still in its infancy. Still, their addition to a new or existing solar panel system only serves to help you maximise their benefits fully. Therefore, giving serious consideration to purchasing solar home batteries may be the best thing you do today.

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