You might not need a home battery (yet) to complement your solar energy investment. But there are increasing reasons you may find yourself wanting one in the near future. Here’s how to make sure you’re keeping your options flexible.
Home battery technology has vastly improved
Why is everyone talking about batteries in the context of residential solar? One key reason: Home batteries are now available as state-of-the-art appliances, rather than as the science experiments they’ve been in the past. For many years, adding batteries to solar meant having a garage or basement floor covered in batteries and cables, with lots of inefficient equipment cluttering up the wall and a regular maintenance schedule for the customer.
With the sleek, compact design of modern smart battery technology, it’s clear that home energy storage is finally ready for the mainstream.
Not all solar energy devices are ‘battery-ready’
Despite technology advancements in batteries, it’s not always easy to add a battery to a solar energy system if you don’t prepare for that option upfront. In fact, many of the most common solar energy systems are not designed to incorporate batteries at all, and while adding a battery can sometimes be possible, it’s not always cost-effective and it’s rarely very efficient. Getting the right equipment –specifically, a hybrid inverter that has battery inputs along with its solar inputs– can save lots of costs and gain lots of performance qualities if you choose to add a battery later.
Home battery prices are falling
A common hang-up that deters solar customers from buying a battery today is the associated upfront cost of a lithium-based ‘smart battery’ that’s powerful enough to meet the needs of the modern home. However, that deterrent is dwindling rapidly.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, lithium-based smart batteries are poised to follow a similar cost experience curve as that of PV modules, crossing the $200/kWh threshold in the next several years. This means that a home-sized smart battery that serves for many years as a key home energy storage resource could soon become as affordable as many other high-end home appliances that are already widely used.
Phil Coupe, President of ReVision Energy, a leading solar installer in northern New England, says, “More and more, people are recognizing that storage costs are beginning to decline, and they want their solar energy system to be able to integrate batteries when the price point justifies the investment.”
ReVision Energy has been installing the Pika Energy Island™ for clients throughout New England to prepare them for future battery additions. Some of those customers are already adding a Harbor Smart Battery™ or a Coral Smart Battery™ to their homes and businesses to ensure they have quiet, clean, smart power on demand.
Why get a solar home battery today?
Clean backup power is a great reason to add a battery to your solar energy investment today; having a backup battery connected to your solar will help you to avoid ever needing a noisy, costly gas generator to back up your home when the grid fails.
Beyond backup power, there are markets in the United States where having a battery can be a great addition to solar simply for managing energy costs. Some utilities are introducing ‘Time-Of-Use’ (TOU) billing, which raises electricity pricing at night when grid power is in high demand, and keeps pricing low in the middle of the day. Since solar panels make the most power in the middle of the day, you can see why storing that excess power in a battery when prices are low can be an appealing option for markets where it can be used in the home at night to avoid high grid costs.
Some parts of the United States currently don’t allow residential solar to be installed without batteries at all, making the argument for adding batteries as clear as a sunny day. For the rest of us, it’s a matter of assessing whether there’s a compelling reason to have a battery today, or whether it makes sense to be “battery-ready,” so that when your future energy needs evolve, you have an option for adding a battery that’s clean, efficient and powerful… and not a science experiment.
In either case, you need a solar energy system that’s capable of directly connecting a battery for high efficiency, ample power, and simple, smart operation.
How to get started on your battery-ready solar energy system
Pika Energy developed the Pika Energy Island™ to keep solar customers’ options flexible and make it simple to add batteries, either today or tomorrow. Learn more about why the Pika Energy Island may be right for your home, and read more about Pika’s compatible smart battery options here.
By Chip Means, Director of Marketing