Is it worth purchasing a solar battery?

The solar industry is booming, with a greater number of households opting to purchase solar battery storage thanks to the promise of cost-effectiveness and self-sufficiency. The thinking goes: Instead of exporting the excess solar energy into the grid, why not store it in batteries for night time use? Is it worth purchasing a solar battery storage? 

The answer? It’s important to know whether purchasing a solar battery storage is worth the investment. But, If your primary purpose for purchasing batteries is to save money, then purchasing a solar battery storage may not be the most viable decision.

Although prices have dramatically increased, a solar battery will set you back thousands of dollars, depending on the system size you choose. In saying that however, whether or not your purchase will make economic sense is weighted down to individual circumstances, such as demographic location, how much energy is used, and time of use. If you’re prepared to venture into a solar battery storage, it is important you familiarise yourself with the different types of solar batteries and how they work. 

Different Types of Solar Batteries

  1. Lithium-ion

The electric car industry has given rise to the higher uptake of Lithium-ion batteries. Headed by the brilliantly marketed LG Chem and sonnenBatterie, Lithium-ion batteries, are increasing in popularity due to their affordability, practicality and ease of adoption.

  1. Lead acid

Lead acid batteries are by far the most common form of solar battery storage currently available in the market, thanks to their reliability, tolerance, and low internal impedance. No to mention, solar powered lead acid battery banks eliminate the need to be directly connected to a traditional electricity grid.  

Lead acid batteries are one of the most commonly offered product options in a rural household battery bank and solar panel system – due to their affordability in comparison to spending almost $30,000 in attempting to extend the grid to your home.

  1. Sodium Nickel Chloride

Sodium Nickel Chloride has been successfully used in electrical energy storage, but are more challenging to use in comparison to conventional battery technologies for lithium ions. GridEdge manufactures its Quantum Battery in Australia, which, like the Aquion (a salt water battery), offers a wide range of safety and environmental benefits due to its own distinctive battery chemistry.

  1. Flow

A flow battery is made of a water based solution of zinc bromide.

Flow batteries are a relatively recent entrant (although their technology has been around for many decades) to the battery storage market. As of now, only several companies manufacture flow batteries for the residential market, perhaps the most notable example of which is Redflow, an Australian flow battery manufacturer that subcontracts battery production to Thailand (formerly North America).

Worth it vs Breaking even

Is it worth purchasing a solar battery storage for economic reasons? We are getting nearer to this much expected cost milestone. But, for now we’re mainly looking at whether a solar & battery system will pay for itself until the battery warranty expires.

Please note that we refer to battery & solar storage systems as ‘whole’ or ‘battery only’. In reality, the great bulk of the value delivered stems in the solar PV section of the system, not the battery itself. If your main goal is energy independence and reduced energy bills, then using batteries will allow you to reach them. However, batteries might not necessarily be the best choice from an investment perspective. 

So, when is it worth purchasing a solar battery storage? Lithium batteries are becoming to be the most popular choice for residential use, with around 80% of rising products available on the market containing lithium. The majority of these (good quality) lithium battery banks possess a 10-year warranty, and once we speak about batteries that’s generally what we are referring to: a lithium ion battery with a 10-year warranty. (As an example, solar panels normally have 25-year performance warranty, and warranty for solar inverters are generally 5-10 years.)

While the batteries will most likely continue to perform after the guarantee has expired, there is no concrete assurance that they will. We therefore suggest that when planning to purchase batteries you should aim for a system which will break even over its 10-year warranty period or even longer.

However, whether ‘breaking even’ inside the warranty duration is ‘worth it’ is a subjective question. Features such as safety, efficiency and low costs of purchase have, however, accounted for the rising uptake of residential battery storage systems, signifying that for many people, solar batteries are worth the purchase. So, is it worth purchasing a solar battery storage? Purchasing a solar battery storage is entirely dependent on a number of factors, as listed above.