One of the misconceptions about solar power systems is that anyone with solar panels on their roof is automatically independent of the power grid.
In fact, this is only true of solar power systems that are equipped with battery storage. Many systems put power back into the grid, offsetting electrical costs, but include no actual battery storage. At Northwest Renewables, many of our rural customers, however, are entirely off-the-grid, and their battery systems allow them to save power for times when their panels aren’t generating.
But this trend is changing. EnergySage, a leading renewable energy marketplace, found that more than about one fifth of new solar installations in the U.S. over the past year included a battery system. However, more than half of installers surveyed said that their customer inquired about a quote for adding a battery system in the future.
This marks a change in the industry – one likely fueled by customers who are weary of natural disasters, overuse, or weather knocking out their power, even if they live on the grid.
Here are some battery basics. The two basic kinds of batteries are lead-acid and lithium-ion, with the latter being smaller, a little more expensive, and more tolerant of deep discharge (which can still ruin any battery, however). Yet lead-acids still excel in handling surge needs for large electric motors such as well pumps. In either case, batteries large enough to power your basic loads usually cost thousands of dollars, while shipping and installation add thousands more.
Your electrical service panel probably also needs some work to allow battery backfeeding, and to create a backup loads circuit, so add another thousand or more for that. Even a starter system can easily exceed $12,000.
And because batteries are also somewhat sensitive to extreme heat or cold, an unheated outbuilding isn’t the best place to put them, so you’ll probably want to make space somewhere in the house close to the main electrical service panel. If that panel is out in the shop building, the usual solution is to house the batteries in a climate-controlled box.
However, thanks to the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, all of these expenses are eligible for the 30 percent federal tax credit.
Let’s talk more about your solar system and how you can benefit from batteries.