Battery Backup – Separating Hype from Reality

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When speaking with groups or individuals about solar energy, the most frequent question we receive is: what about solar + battery backup?  Clearly there is a motivating ROI for installing solar on a home or business, but many owners are also seeking to leverage that with backup power in case of outages. Batteries and new tech are visible in the press, but it is important for potential solar adopters to understand the realities and limitations of current battery technology, while also considering where it may be going in the future.

The most well-known battery suppliers on the market currently are LG, Tesla, Sonnen and Pika.  Each unit comes with its own positives and drawbacks.

While ‘averages’ are dangerous, a battery backup system for a small home (800 kWh/month usage) can vary greatly in price, ranging from $12,500-$25,000 depending on desired controls and solutions. This is in addition to the price of the solar PV system. Larger homes usually require an additional investment due to the current technology’s capacity limitations.

Because of battery costs and capacity limitations, solar + batteries make the most sense for:

  • Individuals and businesses located in high-power-cost areas (>$0.20/kWh)
  • Individuals that are not price-conscious and desire a home back up ‘at any cost’
  • Businesses that require 100% power up-time and deem renewables a key element of that strategy
  • Individuals and business located in storm-prone areas that require minimal power in cases of grid outage

The good news for those seeking solar + battery is that implementing solar now, and then adding battery backup in the future, is a viable option, and one that is becoming more attractive.  Solar is an incredibly scalable technology: i.e. one can install a 5 kW system today, and next year add 3 kW + batteries without significant redundant costs.  Additionally, tax credits may be used in multiple installations, potentially applying to a solar PV install one year and a battery install the next.  Solar + battery certainly makes sense for some investors, while for other, implementing solar now to begin saving money, with the plan of implementing batteries over the next 12-24 months as prices continue to fall is also an attractive option.

If battery prices continue on their recent downward cost trend line, they will be a ubiquitous presence in homes and businesses over the coming two decades.  Currently, they are a wonderful addition for the correct investor, but remain costly to perform a true ROI on their purchase.  If peace of mind on power up-time is priceless to you, then we would be privileged to help you install the solar + battery solution that works for your home or business.

Contact us for a free estimate!