Solar generated energy was originally designed to use panels and an inverter to harness the clean, reliable and renewable power from the sun and convert it into electricity to power the appliances, heating and lighting you have around your home or business.
But next generation systems are already learning that you can maximise returns and reliability by storing that energy and using it when the sun isn’t shining. The most trusted names in storage are both Harrisons products: Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and LG’s RESU.
In a normal, grid-connected domestic solar system, energy that is generated during the day but that isn’t used, flows via an import-export metre back into the national system. Depending on where you live, you’ll get some sort of cash credit for this supply of clean energy back to the grid – but, realistically, it’s not going to be a huge amount.
Instead, you can choose to capture that energy in one or more batteries and then have some of your solar-generated power in reserve to use at night.
For most New Zealanders investigating whether solar power is right for them, the first hurdle to get past is whether their energy use makes day-time generated power cost-effective. If, for example, you run a business from home, or you are a retired couple, or you use a lot of energy during the day to, say, heat a swimming pool or run washing, heating and cleaning appliances, then capturing energy from the sun is a free and efficient way to run your home – these people are going to maximise their return on their investment and see the system pay for itself quickly.
For working couples or families who aren’t at home during the day, but who use most of their power on heating, lighting and electrical appliances and entertainment systems in the early mornings and evenings, then it can be more difficult to make the numbers add up. The first way to maximise their investment is to make a few changes to the way they use power around the home – setting timers on spas, hot water boilers, washers, driers etc – and the second is to invest in battery storage.
For anyone investigating solar energy there are four key messages when it comes to researching batteries:
1. Existing solar systems can be retro-fitted to support battery storage. Harrisons Solar ensures that all our systems are battery-ready (ie use an inverter that is capable of “talking” to a battery) but that isn’t the case with all installers. Clearly the chance to upgrade any system with LG RESU or Tesla storage rather than committing to an entire replacement system or waiting until the end of the current system’s working life and then upgrading, is appealing to many domestic solar energy users. And that’s why any system with an existing inverter can be converted to battery storage with a SolarEdge product and additional battery management.
2. Assess your overall household energy use. Buying a solar system is an investment so you need to ensure you are maximising your returns. This is achieved when you look at how and when you use your electricity, any changes you can make to your home’s energy-efficiency (via insulation, heating or ventilation systems) and any changes you can make to how you use your power. Getting a wide-scale energy audit can help you work out whether batteries are right for you now.
3. Return on investment. We’ve already heard on this blog from Harrisons Solar technical adviser Cyril Marychurch, who said that batteries can be installed in homes without a solar system simply because they give you the smarts and control to be able to import and store cheap off-peak electricity and reuse it when it would normally cost more. At their most basic level, batteries are designed to help increase your system’s return on investment and maximise the use of free, renewable energy – but that only comes from understanding how you use power, where it comes from, and when it’s most used.
4. Being at the cutting edge. There are those who want to save money on their power bills by having access to cheap, clean, renewable solar-generated electricity – and then there are those who want solar and battery storage for other reasons. Some, for example, are more interested in the environment than their bottom line and so want to lower their reliance on grid-supplied power. Others simply want to stick it to the power companies and want to reduce the amount of times they have to call on them to top up their energy consumption. And then there are those early adopters who just love the sleek lines, cool tech and cutting-edge innovation that goes into battery storage.
For more information on Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and LG’s RESU batteries, or how battery storage and solar generation can change your household’s energy costs and needs, contact Harrisons Solar to book a consultation with one of our experts or visit the website to find your nearest Harrisons Solar expert.