Energy Service Partners installed 3000% more batteries in 2023 than in previous years and expects to continue that trend.
Battery storage projects are shaping up as the future of solar in California and beyond. Across the country, capacity has consistently grown since 2021, with projects getting larger each year. California has shown the greatest amount of growth, with more installed battery storage capacity than any other state, at 7.3 gigawatts (GW). The marked growth of distributed solar capacity in California supports the continued expansion of battery storage projects.
1. What is a Solar Battery?
A solar battery is a device used to store excess power provided by residential panels. The stored power can be used during times when solar panels are not generating at their peak capacity, such as nighttime, during storms, on cloudy days or when there are general power outages. When battery storage is not in place, or the battery storage limit has reached full capacity, the excess energy created by residential panels goes to the grid. That means the electricity you produce for your home is sent to the power company, who will compensate you according to your Net Metering rate – which is almost always a lower value than if you used it yourself.
2. The Benefits of Solar Batteries
The most significant benefit of solar battery storage is that it helps offset costs. Storage helps reduce charges incurred during times of peak energy demand by storing excess electricity generated during low grid demand. Residential solar panels in California typically produce more energy than is needed, especially on sunny days. Batteries can be charged for later use inside the home, instead of the power going directly to the grid, where it benefits others before the actual homeowner. The stored energy can then be used during times when the panels are not generating electricity.
This translates simply as storing power during the day and using that stored energy in the evening, when demand is at its highest, as well as during critical weather situations. Basically, “use it or lose it”. When the sun goes down or it’s cloudy and solar panels aren’t generating electricity, homeowners are forced to fulfill their energy needs with the grid. Solar battery energy helps homeowners avoid drawing from the grid at peak times, when it’s most expensive, and to be more independent and resilient when the grid is down and power outages ensue.
Battery storage provides additional benefits, including reducing the need for fuel-guzzling backup generators and adding capacity for EV charging. Their chemistry is safe and NEMA-rated for residential use, and the ROI for homes in blackout-prone areas is priceless. Think of it this way: how much does a fridge full of spoiled food cost? Or several nights at a hotel? Can you put a price tag on keeping your devices charged, to communicate with family and let them know you’re safe?
3. How Solar Batteries Work
Solar batteries are the most common method of storing power for residential installations. They store excess energy during periods of low usage and release it when demand rises. When a battery is charged with solar power, a chemical reaction takes place that enables it to store energy. When the battery is activated, the reaction reverses and the current is then released as electricity to safely use in your home.
PRO TIP: There are advantages to using each type of battery, depending on the homeowner’s system. DC-coupled batteries are more efficient, while AC batteries are easier to integrate with existing solar arrays.
4. Size Matters
Batteries are routinely undersized due to cost or because system loads are underestimated. It is essential to fully understand a customer’s energy needs so that you can determine the right sizing when designing their system. Which devices are needs versus wants, and how long should they be able to run independently?
5. How Long Solar Batteries Last
The duration for stored solar energy depends on several factors, including how much energy the household consumes and the capacity of their battery system. Small systems may only power key appliances for a couple of hours, while a larger system can provide enough energy for an entire home all day long.
6. Reduced Carbon Footprint
Using clean energy provided by solar battery storage is an excellent way to further reduce your carbon footprint. As mentioned above, stored energy helps homeowners reduce reliance on the grid, even when their panels are not providing energy. This helps homeowners avoid using the dirty energy that fossil fuels generate. The more distributed solar and storage we can help attach to residences, the better off our communities will be now and in the future..