Solar PV systems are popular with homeowners seeking to reduce their energy bills and their impact on the environment. But when considering solar panels, a common challenge is that solar arrays only generate electricity when the sun is shining and homes often have a significant evening usage. If this is the case, solar battery storage offers an ideal solution – allowing homeowners to fully harness that clean, green energy day and night.
Solar battery storage works by capturing any excess electricity generated by solar panels during daylight hours and holding it in reserve for use at a later time. This stored energy can then be tapped into after dark to keep the lights on or during cloudy spells to avoid drawing from the grid. With the combination of solar panels and battery banks, you can use more of the power you generate and it’s often more cost effective than exporting your energy to the grid.
Understanding Solar Battery Storage
We’re used to using small batteries as stores of energy, and your solar battery storage systems are very much the same, large rechargeable energy stores that you can charge up and then discharge at a later date when you need the power.
Batteries can be installed as standalone units, and charged from the grid at times when tariffs are at their lowest; or installed as part of a solar installation to use any excess energy that is being generated but not used during daylight hours.
Some systems use a hybrid inverter that is used for the battery and the solar PV installation, whereas some batteries have their own inbuilt inverter. Depending on your individual needs and energy consumption a battery storage system could be an effective way for you to reduce your energy bills and in some cases provide a back-up during power cuts.
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Types of Solar Batteries
There are a number different types of battery suitable for storing energy in residential installations, the most common options are:
- Lithium-ion batteries: The most popular choice today, lithium-ion batteries are lightweight, compact and efficient. They have a life expectancy of 5-15 years.
- Lead-acid batteries: A more affordable option, lead-acid batteries are time-tested but much heavier and larger. They have a life expectancy of 5-10 years.
- Saltwater batteries: An eco-friendly emerging option, saltwater batteries contain a water and salt solution. They have a long lifespan of over 15 years.
The Homeowner's Case for Solar Battery Storage
Installing solar battery storage along with solar panels offers homeowners a range of valuable benefits that make the investment worthwhile:
Solar batteries allow homeowners to store solar energy during the day and use it in the evening or overnight, delivering maximum savings on electricity bills. With today’s energy prices, storing excess solar electricity in batteries and using it later is more cost effective that selling it to the grid through an export agreement even with the cost of the battery factored in. By installing batteries homeowners can reduce energy consumption from the main grid by up to 90% in some cases; and using the system’s settings to charge the battery using solar PV or cheapest tariff grid energy can help you achieve the most cost effective set up.
By investing in solar panels home owners create their own electricity supply, which cushions them from energy market price hikes. Adding battery storage to this can also provide a back-up facility to maintain power even when the main grid goes down, reducing vulnerability to grid interruptions. This provides energy independence and reliability. Not all systems provide a back-up functionality, and if this is important to you ensure that you opt for a system that will deliver this.
Solar power provides clean renewable energy, and adding battery storage enables you to use more of this clean, green energy within your home and reduces your reliance on electricity generated using fossil fuels. Using stored solar energy in the evening, when fossil fuel-heavy power plants are supplying a significant proportion of the main grid, you can reduce your home’s carbon footprint significantly.
With costs falling and return on investment improving, adding energy storage is an essential next step for any homeowner who already has a solar PV installation or is considering one. For home energy savings, reliability, and sustainability, solar batteries are a smart investment.
Real-life Examples of Residential Solar Battery Storage
We’ve worked with homeowners in a variety of property styles to install efficient battery storage systems, from detached properties and terraced houses to flats and MHOs. Each property requires a tailored approach to ensure the battery chosen is appropriate for the budget and energy consumption.
Geo Green Power previously carried out an installation for a Grade II listed property in Nottingham. Homeowners David and Marisa were looking to make their home more energy efficient and reduce the carbon footprint of the property. We worked with them to assess their current energy usage, bills and goals.
Based on their specific home and lifestyle, we then recommended a customised package which included an Air Source Heat Pump system to provide efficient heating and cooling, a solar PV system to generate renewable electricity and a lithium-ion battery system to store excess solar energy for evening use.
By combining these technologies, the calculations showed David and Marisa could cut their home’s carbon emissions by around 27 tonnes per year, maximising energy efficiency and cost savings.
We also have experience working on modern properties, such as our installation of a solar battery and renewable heating system to update a new home. The property already benefitted from high insulation levels and an underfloor heating system, but the family was interested in integrating a more efficient heat pump solution to replace the current LPG boiler.
Given the existing level of insulation and heating, we advised keeping the underfloor system and upgrading to an air source heat pump to boost overall efficiency. The home also had existing solar panels but limited battery storage, meaning of the generated solar energy was being exported to the grid during the day. To optimise their solar system, we suggested expanding the home’s solar battery capacity to 7kWh, saving the home 1.7 tonnes in annual CO2 savings.
Choosing the Right Solar Battery Storage for Your Home
Installing solar battery storage requires careful consideration, taking into account your specific home energy needs and budget:
The battery bank size, rated in kilowatt-hours (kWh), determines how much solar energy can be stored. The size that you choose will depend on your energy usage, the amount of energy you can generate through your solar panels and whether or not you require a back-up during power cuts. Once they have discussed your requirements our experienced surveyors and designers can help you determine the ideal unit for your home.
In general, the longer the battery lifespan, the better return on your investment. Lithium-ion batteries perform well for between 5 and 15 years, while lead-acid batteries have shorter lifespans of 4-8 years. Our battery storage systems come with a 10-year warranty for added peace of mind.
The cost of solar battery storage for homeowners in the UK varies depending on a number of factors, including the size of the battery, the type of battery and installation costs. However, in general, solar battery storage systems cost in the region of £1,200 to £6,000.
There are several considerations for homeowners to take into account when choosing the right battery system:
- Review electricity bills to determine energy consumption patterns
- Estimate how much solar power will be generated based on the panel system size
- Decide vital backup needs for use during grid outages
- Consider future energy needs, such as for electric vehicles.
Installation and Maintenance of Solar Battery Storage
The installation process should be handled by professional installers who have the experience and expertise to get the system up and running properly. The installation process typically involves a site visit to inspect the existing electrical installation and any solar PV system already in place. This will enable the team to design a system that will integrate with what you already have. If you having a entirely new, combined system installed this will also help to determine where everything will be installed with regards to the battery unit itself, inverters, cabling and anything else that your system requires.
The physical installation of your battery will take around half a day, longer if you are having multiple units or a more complex set-up. The battery units are mounted and wired to integrate safely with the home’s electrical system and solar panel installation. The system will be updated with the latest firmware available and settings will be configured to meet your requirements. Once complete, your installer will provide guidance on how to properly operate and maintain your new battery storage system during a full handover.
Regular maintenance is also crucial to keep solar batteries functioning efficiently and safely, and to extend their lifespan. Routine maintenance includes inspecting the batteries for any damage and loose connections, checking charge levels and recharging when low, cleaning away dirt and dust, monitoring battery performance and periodically re-calibrating the system. Preventative maintenance helps avoid unexpected failures or safety issues down the road. Most solar batteries require maintenance checks and servicing once a year, which we can carry out for you.
Government Incentives and Policies Supporting Solar Energy Storage
The UK government offers several incentives to support businesses investing in renewable energy:
- Smart Export Guarantee (SEG): The Smart Export Guarantee compensates residents for sending surplus solar electricity back to the grid. Homeowners typically earn around 5p per kWh exported. If your battery storage system has reached capacity an export agreement such as the SEG can ensure that you receive a payment for any energy you export.
- Reduced VAT Rate: Currently there is no VAT charged when installing equipment like solar panels combined with battery storage for domestic properties.
Homeowners should research which incentives provide the greatest benefit for their specific solar and battery storage system, and check they are eligible and meet the necessary criteria.
Each supplier will have their own specific application process that homeowners must follow. All licensed SEG suppliers are obligated to provide an export tariff option to eligible solar battery homeowners, but the rates offered can vary.
Our Services: Installation, Servicing, and Maintenance
At Geo Green Power, we have extensive experience in installing and maintaining solar arrays and battery storage systems for homeowners across the UK. We can advise you on the right sized system for your energy requirements and help you choose a battery system that fits your needs and budget.
We’ve installed solar battery storage for a host of different properties, from terraced and semi-detached homes to traditional properties looking to modernise their electrical supply and new-build homes. We’re well equipped to help you find the right battery storage to accompany your solar PV system and look after your system for the long-term.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does home solar battery storage cost?
Solar battery costs vary depending on system size and batteries, ranging from just over £1,000 to £6,000 or more. Incentives like the Smart Export Guarantee can offset overall costs.
What are the best solar storage batteries?
Popular options like the Tesla Powerwall, Symo Hybrid and Victron Energy Systems range work well. When choosing, look for batteries with high energy density, long warranties, smart software and good performance in UK weather.
What is the typical lifespan of solar batteries?
With proper maintenance, most lithium-ion solar batteries last around 10-15 years in the cool UK climate. While lead-acid batteries degrade faster, they still offer an average 5-8 year lifespan.
Is it necessary to choose solar with battery storage?
Batteries aren’t essential to make use of a solar array but they do allow homeowners to maximise consumption of the solar energy they generate. They can also provide backup power during grid outages. Without batteries, excess solar electricity is can be exported to the grid for a small income.
For homeowners in the UK, adding solar energy storage systems can provide a powerful way to take control over energy bills while also building energy resilience and sustainability. By investing in a home battery system, homeowners can get the most out of their solar panel investment and rely less on grid electricity and fluctuating rates.
To explore whether solar battery storage is right for your home, get in touch with our experienced team to arrange a free, no obligation consultation.