If you’re looking for information on solar battery storage, perhaps you’re like many Northern California residents who can’t deal with another blackout. Perhaps you have a solar energy system but are thinking of ways to improve your savings. Or you might already have a battery backup system but want to know how to care properly for your investment.
In any event, this article can help. Here’s what you need to know about solar battery storage for your Bay Area home.
If You Want Grid Independence
There are generally three types of solar energy systems: on-grid, off-grid, and hybrid systems.
On-grid, or grid-tied systems, depend on a power company (like PG&E) to work. These systems usually generate more electricity than needed, so customers can sell their electricity back to the electric company. However, for safety reasons, on-grid solar energy systems will not work during a blackout. So if PG&E turns out the lights, you’re still without power.
Hybrid systems are connected to the grid but also have battery storage. Since power companies have different rates for peak and non-peak hours, you can control when you use your battery power. You could potentially sell your electricity back at a time when you’d get the most money for it. The battery in a hybrid system ensures that you’ll have electricity during a blackout.
Off-grid systems are completely independent from the power company. Generated power is stored in a battery system connected to your home. Since these systems stand alone, they provide consistent power, though a generator may be necessary to take care of power needs on dark and rainy days.
Different people have different goals for their power systems, but if independence is your goal, battery storage can keep your power on, even when your neighborhood is in the dark.
Are You Looking to Maximize Savings?
Hybrid solar power systems allow you to sell your electricity back to PG&E, making it the most obvious way to maximize your savings. However, many power companies are phasing out these incentives, making storage the most effective way to get value out of your solar power system. How do you do this?
One of the best ways to save begins with monitoring your system and your current power rates. Here in Northern California, PG&E uses a time-of-use (TOU) rate structure – this means they’ll charge different prices for peak and off-peak hours. If you use your own stored energy during peak hours instead of the power that PG&E provides, you are taking advantage of significant savings.
How Can I Maximize My Battery Life?
Battery life is based on cycles. Imagine your battery can match the energy you need for five days (which is not unrealistic). If you set up your battery to cycle at 20%, it would last five times longer than if you had it cycle at 100%.
Here’s another way to look at it: imagine your smartphone has charged to 100%, but instead of unplugging it and using it, you continue to use it while it is plugged in and charging. As good as the 100% looks, what’s really happening is your battery is draining a little from usage and then immediately recharging, which taxes your battery. Now imagine doing that with the battery for your house. Certain battery settings will match your usage and will charge the battery any time there is extra solar energy. This could end up cycling the battery multiple times per day.
Depending on whether or not your system is grid-based, you can also decide if you want your battery set to be a primary source of energy or a backup source. If you take California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) rebate, you’re required to have 52 full discharges per year, so finding a balance between minimal but necessary use and meeting state requirements is a must. If you don’t take the rebate, then you get 100% of the control over the battery settings.
Get the Best from Your Solar Battery System
Every home, customer, and set of goals are different, so there is no hard-and-fast standard for what home or business owners should do. The best way to find out how to make the best use of your solar battery system is to get in touch with us. We’ll send a knowledgeable technician to understand your specific situation and what you want to accomplish and help you find the most affordable way to reach those goals.