How much are solar batteries and are they worth it?

As renewable energy becomes more mainstream, many homeowners and businesses are embracing solar power as a cost-effective solution to reduce their energy bills.

But when it comes to enhancing a solar setup, one question often arises:
Are solar batteries a smart investment or just an added expense?

Understanding Battery Storage

Firstly, let’s clarify what battery storage entails.

A solar battery serves as a reservoir for excess energy generated by your solar panels that isn’t used immediately. This energy is stored and can be utilised during the nighttime or power outages, ensuring a continuous supply when your panels are inactive.
The ability to store and manage the energy you produce ensures optimal use, particularly, during periods when electricity rates are high or when you need it most.

Essentially, they allow you to store and use the energy you produce for use when the sun isn’t shining.

Graphic Image by Lenergy
Graphic Image by Lenergy

The Optimal Time to Add a Battery
There are two primary times to consider adding a solar battery: during the initial installation of your solar panels or by retrofitting it to an existing system.
Installing a battery during the initial setup of your solar system is often more seamless and cost-effective, allowing for integrated design and functionality.

However, retrofitting a battery to an existing system is also feasible, especially with the advent of advanced hybrid inverters and AC-coupled battery systems that can accommodate older solar setups with minimal modifications.

Making the decision to purchase batteries at the start of your solar journey as opposed to later makes for a larger initial outlay, but a more cost-effective option in the long run as there are certain economies of scale with doing everything all at once. For instance, some DC coupled batteries like Sungrow’s batteries are only compatible with the Sungrow Hybrid inverter.

Starting with a hybrid inverter with a modular battery, such as Sungrow, means you can have your cake and eat it too!
By opting for a solar system with a modest storage capacity that is easily expanded, you’ll have blackout functionality and the ability to store excess solar power to use at night, opposed to donating it to the grid for a small feed-in tariff.

The 3.2kWh Sungrow battery is modular by design, which makes it a versatile option to combat changing energy demands, as you can easily add more and more batteries to the same battery stack.

Image taken from a Tesla installation by Lenergy

Expanding Your Solar System with a Battery Later
If you initially opted out of a battery, adding one later can still substantially boost your savings and energy independence. Professional installers can efficiently integrate a battery with your existing setup, optimising it for energy efficiency and safety.

It’s sensible to begin with a solar system designed to exceed your energy needs, ensuring ample surplus power for future battery charging.

Before making the decision to install batteries, we can monitor the system for a period of time, in particular the winter period, which is typically the worst time of year both for energy consumption and solar production.

We can then use this data to make an informed decision as to whether or not battery storage is feasible. By looking at import and export data we can determine exactly how much power is being used overnight to calculate what size battery is required, and ensure that there is enough surplus power throughout the day to charge the battery. 

Most electricity bills we see tend to spike in winter as the homeowners use more power heating their home, and during this time, solar energy systems produce significantly less power per day as there is less peak sun hours. This is why it is crucial to assess your consumption profile in winter, so you don’t have a battery sitting on the wall collecting dust.

Graphic Image created by Lenergy

Factors to Consider

Maintenance and Care:
Solar batteries generally require minimal maintenance, which is an important consideration for many homeowners. Regular checks and occasional updates to the system software can keep the battery operating efficiently over its lifespan.

Future-Proofing Your Home:
As energy prices continue to rise and power outages become more frequent due to extreme weather events, having a solar battery ensures that your home remains powered, secure, and functional. It’s a smart way to future-proof your property against increasing energy uncertainty.

Energy Independence:
With a solar battery, you can store surplus energy that would otherwise be returned to the grid. You can then use this energy during grid outages or when solar production is low, reducing your dependence on external power sources and enhancing your home’s self-sufficiency. During power outages or grid failures, you can continue to power your home with stored solar energy, providing peace of mind and potentially saving you from disruptions.

Energy Consumption Patterns:
Evaluate your energy consumption patterns to determine if battery storage aligns with your needs. If you typically consume the majority of your energy during the evening or at night, when solar production is low or nonexistent , then a battery storage system can help offset reliance on the grid during these times.

Photo created and taken by Lenergy

Return on Investment (ROI):
While battery storage systems do require quite a large initial investment they can save you money in the long run. Fortunately, financing options are available to make the upfront cost of battery storage more manageable. But if you’re after a quick payback period, battery storage isn’t for you.

By storing unused solar energy, batteries ensure that the energy capacity your panels generate is fully utilised. This increase in efficiency can accelerate the return on investment of your entire solar system and lead to greater energy autonomy. As the cost of electricity continues to rise and the feed in tariff (FiT) approaches $0.00, batteries are really coming into their own.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather keep the power my system generates than donate it to the grid.

Now, to break down an example:

This simplified example indicates a payback period of just over ten years, however, actual conditions can significantly influence this estimate. In regions with high electricity rates, where your solar battery optimally offsets the more costly grid power, the payback period might be shorter.

This estimate underscores the importance of closely examining your energy usage, local electricity rates, and how effectively a solar battery can meet your specific energy needs to determine its financial viability.

With a large initial investment and a long payback period, this is where Virtual Power Plant’s (VPP) really come into play. This is where your retailer gives you access to wholesale electricity prices and allows you to send power from your battery to the grid during high demand periods when the price of electricity skyrockets. With feed-in prices reaching levels well over $1/kWh you can collect quite a handsome reward for your power.

One of our customers, Harry, has stated:

If I look at the amount of money that we’ve invested in both the battery, the solar system and everything else, plus the electric car, I’m actually earning a better rate of return on the investment than I was with my money being just on term deposits.

You can view Harry’s full video testimonial here.

Image by Lenergy

Environmental Impact:
Beyond financial considerations, battery storage can also have environmental benefits. By maximising self-consumption of solar energy and reducing reliance on fossil fuel-based electricity, you’re contributing to a cleaner, more sustainable future.

As the popularity of battery storage continues to increase annually among homeowners, the demand for recycling processes and facilities has surged. Contrary to popular belief, solar batteries can indeed be recycled in Australia.
Recent advancements in recycling technology have led to the establishment of several facilities in New South Wales that specialise in recycling lithium-ion batteries, the most common type used in Australia. Furthermore, the elimination of cobalt from new batteries is expected to boost lithium-ion battery recycling.

Tes-Amm Australia, one of the leading lithium-ion recycling facilities in Australia, utilises sophisticated technology to separate raw materials, Lithium Carbonate, Cobalt Hydroxide, Sodium Sulfate (by-products), Graphite/Copper/Aluminum, for repurpose.
These batteries are recyclable not only at the end of their lifespan but also when they need replacing.

Graphic Image by Lenergy

Further Electricity Bill Reduction:
Integrating battery storage into your home’s energy system can decrease electricity bills by storing excess solar energy for later use during peak consumption times. Solar batteries can drastically reduce your electricity bills by allowing you to use stored energy during peak tariff times. This capability not only provides immediate financial benefits but also helps offset the battery’s initial cost over time.

Photo created and taken by Lenergy

Now let’s talk about price

At Lenergy an installation of:

  • Tesla Powerwall 2 from $15,800 with an additional Tesla Powerwall 2 at $12,800. (AC coupled battery which can be paired with any type of solar inverter)
  • Enphase IQ 5P battery from $11,499 (AC coupled battery that can be paired with any type of solar inverter)
  • Sungrow Hybrid Inverter & 9.68kWh Battery from $9,687 (DC coupled battery can only be paired with a Sungrow hybrid inverter)

These prices above include the complete supply & installation of your battery for a single phase home.

Avoid Cowboys

Deciding to invest in battery storage should include discussions with solar experts or energy professionals. They can evaluate your unique situation, energy objectives, and financial plans to offer customised advice and help you decide whether a solar battery fits your needs.

While the initial cost of a solar battery may seem daunting, the long-term benefits of added energy independence, reduced utility costs, and enhanced environmental sustainability make it a worthwhile investment. 

As the push toward renewable energy grows stronger, equipping your home with a solar battery positions you at the forefront of energy efficiency and proactive environmental stewardship.

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