Solar Panel Battery

The sun provides an endless amount of renewable energy. You can harness this power with a solar photovoltaic system. A leading way to make your solar PV system even more reliable and efficient is to use a solar panel battery, which will allow you to store energy for later use. Several different options are available for solar storage. Each offers independence from the grid, backup power during emergencies and other benefits.

Whether you have a solar power system or you're thinking about investing in one, a solar battery is a wise addition. You might find it helpful to learn about solar batteries, as different types have unique pros and cons. Regardless of the battery type, solar energy storage can increase the energy efficiency and independence of your home, farm or ranch.

What Are Solar Panel Batteries?

First things first, you'll need to know what a solar panel battery is and how it works. It's helpful to about solar technology to understand the benefit of adding a battery.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

A few different types of solar system technologies are available, but the most popular is solar PV. A solar PV system contains individual "cells." Each cell has two layers of semiconductor material, often silicon. The top layer contains phosphorus, which creates a negative charge. The bottom layer contains boron, which creates a positive charge. The opposing charges result in an electric field between the two silicon layers.

The magic happens when sunlight hits the cells. Sunlight contains photons that knock the cell's electrons free, creating a current of energy. Conductive plates collect the electrons and send them into wires, resulting in usable energy.

Solar cells combine to form solar panels, and a collection of panels makes a solar array. Many individual solar cells generate enough energy to power your appliances, equipment or devices. As you may already know, solar power systems can only produce sufficient energy when ample sunlight is available.

Why Are Solar Panels Connected to the Grid?

Most solar systems connect to the local electricity grid. On a long, sunny day, your panels might produce more energy than your household can use. In this case, your system will send the extra electricity flowing back into the grid.

On the other hand, if the skies are overcast and the weather is gray and gloomy, your panels' energy production may fall short of your needs. When that happens, you'll pull electricity from the grid. Every month, your utility company will bill you for the energy you use minus the energy you've supplied to the grid, in a process called net metering.

What Are Solar Panel Batteries?  

While net metering saves you on utility costs, you have a different option for maximizing the energy your solar power system produces. Solar panel batteries allow you to store your panels' excess energy instead of sending it back to the utility company in the net-metering process. When sunlight is not available, you can rely on the energy stored in the battery.

Why Should You Store Solar Energy With a Battery?

A solar system without batteries must still rely on inefficient energy from your local utility company when sunlight is not available. Solar batteries solve this problem by allowing for energy independence and maximal use of your panels.

What Are the Benefits of Solar Panel Batteries?

Home energy storage batteries offer several practical and financial advantages. Here are a few reasons to include a battery in your solar system.

1. Power During Emergencies

When you can function off-grid, emergencies are no longer a significant concern. If extreme weather like a severe storm leads to an outage, you'll still have power. While backup generators tend to be noisy, solar energy is always quiet. You might want to pair your battery with an electrical panel so you can control where the energy goes.

Remember, solar panel systems that lack a battery will not supply you with energy during emergencies. Solar panels shut down during outages — otherwise, they could send electricity onto transmission lines where utility workers are making repairs, posing a safety risk. If you want to have power during blackouts, you'll need a storage battery.

2. Freedom From High Utility Rates

Many utility companies charge higher rates during specific times, such as evenings and weekends. Having a battery can help you avoid paying these expensive prices. Instead, switch to your battery power when electricity prices are at their highest, and save money by using your saved solar energy during these hours.

3. Predictable Expenses

Will participating in net metering reliably save you money? The answer depends on how much your system produces and how much energy you use. Often, these factors are unforeseeable, which can complicate your budgeting. You can improve your energy expenses' predictability by using a battery to function off-grid.

4. Reduced Carbon Footprint

Unfortunately, many power plants still rely on carbon-emitting coal, petroleum and natural gas to generate electricity. Solar energy is a 100% renewable, clean energy source, but deciding not to invest in a solar battery means you are still reliant on traditional energy sources, thus negating some of the ecological benefits. Solar batteries allow you to make a much more significant environmental impact.

5. Efficient Power Use

Why not maximize your solar investment? A battery allows you to use your solar energy when you need it. With no battery for storage, much of the energy your system produces will go into the grid rather than powering your property. Batteries let you use all the energy from your solar panels.

Different Types of Solar Batteries and How They Work

Several types of solar batteries are on the market. Each uses unique technology to achieve solar energy storage. It's helpful to understand these various battery types and how they store energy.

Battery Basics

All batteries are devices that store electrochemical energy, converted to electricity for practical use. Batteries use the flow of electrons through a circuit to create an electrical current. All batteries have three parts.

  1. Anode: The anode is the negative side, where electrons build up. The electrons repel each other, causing them to travel through the circuit.
  2. Cathode: The cathode is the positive side, where the built-up electrons travel.
  3. Electrolyte: The electrolyte sits between the anode and cathode. It forces the electrons to travel the length of the circuit rather than going straight from the anode to the cathode. As they go through the circuit, they provide usable power.

A solar system recharges a battery, meaning it changes the direction of the electrons' flow. As it does, it restores the anode and cathode, allowing them to provide power again. Solar energy systems can use several battery types for storage, including the following.

1. Lead-Acid Batteries

Lead-acid battery technology has been around for many years. It's the same battery type found in most vehicles. A lead-acid battery can store solar energy using lead, water and sulfuric acid. The anode is lead, while the cathode is lead oxide. The electrolyte is a combination of sulfuric acid and water.

Pros

Lead-acid battery technology has a long track record and remains a popular choice. The benefits of using a lead-acid battery include the following.

  • Cost: As one of the oldest energy storage technologies, lead-acid batteries are inexpensive. They're mass-produced, leading to favorable prices.
  • Reliability: You can be sure your lead-acid battery will get the job done. These types of batteries have been storing energy for many years.

Cons

While they have notable benefits, lead-acid batteries also have a few downsides.

  • Space: Lead-acid batteries are not the most space-efficient. They take up a lot of room.
  • Lifespan: On average, one of these batteries will last for about 1,000 to 2,000 cycles, which is the number of times you can charge it up and discharge it for use. If you run the battery completely out of charge, its lifespan will be shorter. Depending on how much you use your battery and how well you maintain it, it may only last for a couple of years.
  • Maintenance: These batteries require careful maintenance. You'll need to check their water levels often and refill as needed. Otherwise, they'll degrade and fail.

2. Lithium-Ion Batteries

You may have heard of lithium-ion batteries, which are the ones in your cellphone. The same technology can store solar energy. As their name suggests, these batteries use lithium ions, or negatively charged molecules of the element lithium. The batteries' anodes are carbon and their cathodes are metal oxide. Their electrolyte is a lithium-salt solution.

Pros

Lithium-ion batteries offer unique advantages, including the following.

  • Size: These batteries are lightweight and portable, which is why they're a staple of cellphone technology. Lithium is the lightest metal ever found on Earth.
  • Low maintenance: Unlike the older technology of a lead-acid battery, lithium-ion batteries require almost no maintenance.
  • Scalability: The technology allows you to combine multiple batteries into one pack, serving higher energy demands.
  • Lifespan: Lithium-ion batteries have a longer lifespan than other battery types. You can increase their lifespan by keeping them in a temperature-controlled environment and using them regularly.

Cons

Despite their marked advantages, lithium-ion batteries have a few drawbacks.

  • Cost: They're more expensive than lead-acid batteries. However, higher demands have been driving down costs.
  • Safety: The chemical mix within these batteries can cause a fire hazard if overcharged.
  • Draining: If you do not use your lithium-ion batteries for an extended period, they can drain out and become unusable.

3. Nickel-Cadmium Batteries

A less common choice is a nickel-cadmium battery, which you'll often find in aircraft. Its anode is cadmium hydroxide and its cathode is nickel hydroxide, which are chemical compounds containing two oxygen molecules. Their electrolyte solution is a combination of water and potassium hydroxide.

Pros

Nickel-cadmium batteries offer a few advantages.

  • Durability: Aircraft manufacturers rely on nickel-cadmium batteries because they can withstand extreme temperatures and challenging conditions.
  • Low maintenance: They also require little upkeep to operate.

Cons

You will not often find nickel-cadmium batteries in solar power systems, as they have a few notable disadvantages.

  • Toxicity: Cadmium is toxic and poses a severe health risk. Safe disposal of a used cadmium battery is a challenge. Lawmakers in some parts of the world have even banned these batteries.
  • Cost: These batteries are also more expensive than other options.

4. Flow Batteries

Flow batteries are one of the newer battery technologies and use a complicated process. Flow batteries use two oppositely charged chemical-filled tanks. A liquid electrolyte flows between the two tanks, storing and discharging energy.

Pros

The emerging technology has some unique benefits.

  • Total discharge: While most batteries will sustain damage if fully discharged, a flow battery will not. You can use all the battery's stored energy without causing issues.
  • Long lifespan: A flow battery's most substantial benefit is its extensive lifespan. Some varieties last for over a decade.

Cons

  • Size: Flow batteries contain two separate tanks, plus pumps and channels. They can take up a lot of space.
  • Cost: As this is a newer technology, the initial cost is higher.

Solar Battery Installation

Solar energy systems work better with batteries. Whether you're looking to retrofit a battery into an existing system or invest in a whole new solar energy solution, you'll need help from industry professionals. An expert will help you determine how many batteries you need and where you should put them.

They'll also provide information on maintenance and care to ensure your solar panels and batteries last as long as possible. If you're getting a brand-new solar power system, you'll need a solar technician to perform a complete evaluation of your property and create a customized solution.

Choose S&H Solar

If you're interested in a solar energy solution for your property, consider S&H Solar. We specialize in bringing solar power to small towns and rural locations, giving you the ability to own your energy. We'll perform an in-depth property evaluation to find what's right for you. We'll then create a customized solution.

We pride ourselves in our ability to help rural homeowners, farmers and ranchers achieve realistic goals for solar energy projects. We'll help you every step of the way, even long past installation — we'll be your energy partner for life.

Request a Quote From S&H

Are you interested in harnessing the sun's power? With solar power equipment and a battery storage solution, you can enjoy long-term savings and energy independence, all while helping the environment. If you want a customized solar energy solution and help from the experts at every step of the way, partner with S&H! We'd love to help you get started. Once you request a quote, you'll be on your way to a solar-powered future.



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