With a large enough installation, you can capture enough free energy during the day to power all of your electricity needs. But – you need a way to store that solar energy for nighttime use.
An increasingly popular option is the solar battery – on-site storage units that collect excess energy during the day for use once the sun goes down.
But how much are solar batteries and are they worth it?
Solar Battery Prices – the Good and the Bad
First the good news. Like most renewable energy technologies, solar batteries are becoming cheaper every day.
Now the bad news. They’re still prohibitively expensive for most San Diego homeowners. In fact, standard storage units can increase your solar installation costs by 50% to 100%. Worse still, they need replacing every 7-12 years.
If you’re looking to save money and reduce your monthly expenses as much as possible, there are better options.
For the majority of San Diego homeowners and businesses, grid-connected solar panels make way more financial sense.
Grid-Connected Solar Power for Virtual Storage
Most solar installations are connected directly to the utility grid. And in regions of the country that offer net metering (like in San Diego), it’s possible to sell excess electricity to the utility company during the day (when prices are high) and buy back electricity at night (when prices are low).
When you use this approach, the entire utility grid becomes de facto storage. In essence, you’re using virtual solar batteries.
The beauty of this system is that:
- It doesn’t cost a lot of money to set up. Most San Diego solar installers provide this service as part of the overall installation fee.
- There’s nothing to maintain or replace. The grid already exists. You just plug-in, sit back, and let your panels do all of the work.
- It’s possible to earn credits from the utility company. With net metering, you’re only responsible for the “net difference” in electricity sold and bought. If your panels produce more energy than you could ever use, SDG&E will owe you instead of the reverse. That’s pretty sweet.
Are Solar Batteries Ever a Good Idea?
99% of the time, we tell our customers not to bother with solar batteries. They’re expensive and relatively high maintenance. But there are times when a solar battery is necessary.
- If you live in a remote home far away from the utility grid, you’ll need some type of storage or backup generator to power your appliances when the sun goes down. Vacation homes and cabins are perfect examples of off-grid solar applications.
- If you operate a business that must have 24/7 uninterrupted power, then batteries are worth exploring. Solar panels don’t provide protection against blackouts (even during the day). You still need on-site power backup if the electricity grid goes down.
But in most other cases, the added expense of solar batteries simply isn’t worth it. With net metering, you enjoy all of the same benefits at a fraction of the cost.