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The Challenges of Home Solar Storage

The Solar Storage Problems for Homes

One of the main draws of setting up a home solar system is the idea of complete energy independence. People often think that putting solar panels on their roof will essentially allow them to go “off-grid” and possibly save $1,345 per year, or the average annual electric bill in the U.S. Many shoppers tend to forget, however, that going completely off-grid will require some sort of solar storage technology, namely batteries. Solar production ebbs and flows with the seasons. Of course, the sun doesn’t shine at night, and a week of cloudy days could certainly reduce the amount of energy available to a household.Batteries allow homeowners with rooftop solar systems to store some of the energy produced by their PV panels.

Despite the fact that recent developments in battery storage technology have been promoted with great fanfare, there are still a number of solar energy storage challenges.

woman in yellow shirt holding pen and calculator

The Cost

First and foremost, batteries for storing solar energy are expensive. Prices for solar batteries range from $5,000-7,000. The price tag, however, may or may not include the necessary installation and mounting equipment. Your home many also require more than one solar battery, depending on the  kWh of energy used per day.

The Batteries Won't Pay for Themselves

An investment in solar panels may pay for itself over their lifetime depending on the size of your home, how much energy you use and the state that you live in through reducing a monthly electricity bill. However, the same cannot be said for solar battery storage. Let’s imagine an example where a household purchases two solar batteries for a total cost (including installation) of $15,000. The average household in the United States uses an average of 867 kWh of electricity per month, or around 29 kWh per day. The solar batteries, however, will only be saving you from drawing energy from the grid when the sun is not shining. For argument’s sake, let’s say that your solar batteries will save you roughly 15 kWh of electricity on a daily basis, or 5,475 kWh per year. 

The average price of electricity in the United States currently stands at $0.12 per kWh. Each year, then, solar batteries could potentially save you $657. Common solar battery warranties however, only last about 10 years. By the time the warranty is up, you will have saved about $6,500 dollars, while your initial investment was well over $15,000.

Battery Storage Doesn’t Save You from Paying the Full Cost of Grid Electricity

Another common argument for off-grid household solar systems with solar battery storage is the money saved by not having to tap into your municipal electricity supply. The fact of the matter, however, is that households who have solar panel systems that are connected to the grid can also benefit from feed-in tariffs in many states. California, for example, offers a $0.12 feed-in tariff, meaning that homeowners can sell the excess energy generated by their solar panels back to the grid, thus offsetting some (if not all) of the costs of the energy they purchase from the grid during the nighttime hours when their panels are not generating electricity.

Solar panels under dark grey, cloudy sky

Extra Costs for Blackout Protection

In some cases, homeowners with a grid-tied solar power system might be interested in purchasing a solar battery system for protection during blackouts. No one enjoys being without power, and batteries are often billed as a way to avoid being stuck without power. What few people realize, however, is that you will need to invest in extra electronics and engineering for blackout protection for a grid-tied solar panel system. These costs will include engineering that will isolate the house from the electric grid, electronics to safeguard that the battery system is not overloaded from the solar panels or the house load, and the need to balance generation and loads for supply and demand. Simply put, all of this will cost a fair amount of money.

Alternative Solar Energy Solutions

Solar battery technology is still fairly new. While huge strides have been made on generating and storing power from sustainable sources, the prospect of living off the grid is still not a widely accessible option for most homeowners. Offsetting electricity costs through solar energy however, is still something that can be accomplished in most homes across the country. 

Community Solar projects, like those supported by Clearway Community Solar, deliver solar power to municipal power grids and help to lower their load from traditional energy sources. Homeowners and renters alike can join their local Community Solar Farm and by doing so not only offset their electricity costs, but also lower their carbon footprint. Community Solar delivers all of the benefits of solar energy without the overhead of solar panels and solar storage. You can learn more about how Community Solar works by clicking here.

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