If you’re looking to reduce your household carbon emissions, you really can’t go past installing a home solar photovoltaic system with battery storage. But with so many dealers and installers out there, and with such a high investment cost, where do you even start?
In Part 2, Bernie kindly shares how home battery storage systems work, their cost, how long they last and traps you should be aware of before you make the investment.
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Why should our listeners consider installing a home battery system, in addition to a home solar system? What are the benefits? And are there any disadvantages?
Well, that presently is a very, very hot topic and hotly debated as to whether you should go battery or whether you should not go battery.
Let’s first look at the advantages of a battery. The clear advantages are that you’re able to store power for your evening use. Now, I’ll put a bit of an emphasis on evening use and I’ll come back to it later.
Some of the disadvantages of going with battery is that they are unbelievably expensive. The Melbourne Test Centre ran a programme that they recently wound up about six to eight weeks ago. And sadly, pretty much every battery in the marketplace failed within its first three years. Now that’s that’s a problem because batteries are very, very expensive. So the reason they’re expensive is because the manufacturers have priced into that battery, the cost of replacement under warranty.
What happens if there is a blackout?
When you install a battery, and your listeners should make note of this, make sure whoever you’re talking to actually understands how batteries work from an installation perspective.
Most people invest in batteries without fully understanding what a battery can and can’t do. People think that if solar battery is installed, and there is a blackout, that will be have power still running. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In order to have a battery system work in a way that you can essentially island your house, in other words, cut itself off from the grid during a blackout, requires another piece of technology.
You need to be essentially rewiring your metre board to isolate your home in the event that there’s a blackout. Now, if you do not have that piece of hardware with that rewiring, then your battery simply won’t work when there’s a blackout.
You need to make sure that your system has what they call backup capacity, which means that your system will be able to feed power into your home during periods of blackout. Now, that piece of hardware and that rewiring is not an inexpensive process. Depending on your location, it could be anywhere from $1500 to about $2500.
How does a home battery system typically work?
So the solar system is working, as we said in the Episode 168 of Eco Chat, where it’s producing power, sending it down to the inverter, and the inverters converting that for use in your household, and you’re exporting some of that, if you’re fortunate enough, back to the grid.
Now, when you have a battery, you’re now doing a couple of other things. You’re not only using power in your home, but the excess amount of power is charging your battery.
So think of that as doing three things
- powering your home
- charging your battery
- sending excess back to the grid
A very straightforward process. It’s just the mechanics of wiring up the battery are a bit more difficult.
When is a good time to install a home battery system? Should consumers bite the bullet and install now or wait until prices continue to fall?
The best time to install a battery will depend purely on your personal circumstances and the economics as well. Batteries are expensive and at the moment I think it is a hard call.
You should do a household audit, so look at when you are using your power the most. If you’re using the power during the day, then that might negate the desire to install a battery. Compared to a household that might use a lot of power at night or say perhaps has an electric vehicle needing charging.
If you’ve already got an existing solar system, and you want to retrofit a battery, in the past, it was expensive, you needed to replace the inverter and put it a hybrid inverter. So the battery manufacturers have got smart. And now what they’ve done is they’ve put the AC coupling or the charging unit at the battery level. So pretty much most solar systems now are plug and play. So you’ll be able to get a battery and plug it straight into a an inverter that’s not hybrid.
If you’re thinking about installing solar and whether you should include a battery there a few things to think about. A good quality solar system should be paying itself off in around 3 years. If you are thinking about installing a battery with your solar system, that calculation is going to extend your payback period conservatively by another four to five years. So all of a sudden, your payback period on your investment will be somewhere between eight and 10 years. Now, that needs a lot of consideration.
What system would a typical home require and what infrastructure is required? Are Tesla batteries the only choice?
The Telsa batteries have brand value, and they are a very, very expensive battery. In Australia there are a few options, some a bit better than others. If one of these batteries has a better price point, I’d say consider it if the warrant is the same and if has impressive stats.
What is the average cost of a home battery system, including installation?
A good measurement is about $1.50 per watt. So a good quality 10 kilowatt battery fully installed will be somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 depending on the brand.
Are there any good government incentives or schemes that help homeowners make the switch to battery systems?
There’s some very good state-based grants and interest free loans available (in Australia).
One of the most attractive at the moment is coming out of the ACT. They’re piloting a programme that provides about a $15,000 interest free grant towards sustainable homes.
The Victorian solar rebates, they’re also attractive, their grant towards a solar battery is around $3,400. Each state generally has an incentive programme.
It’s worthwhile jumping online and visiting the state websites to see how you qualify. You’re also welcome to jump on to bidmysolar and the staff can tell you what your grants or financial incentives are based on your particular area.
How long does a home battery system last?
A good quality battery, if you follow their warranties, should be lasting 7 to 10 years. Look, based on the Melbourne Test Centre results, the reality is obviously something else. Some batteries will perform better than others.
So if you are installing a battery, look at the warranties. The devil is always in the detail. Don’t believe what the salesperson tells you, get it in writing and do some of your own independent research and always double check what you have been told.
What are some of the traps that consumers should look out for when sourcing their home battery systems?
Ensure that the company who’s doing your installation is in fact certified to do the battery installation. You want to try and understand their capabilities so they don’t do a half-baked job. Ask lots of questions, do your own independent research and talk to other people.
Also make sure you ask the question about what will happen in a blackout and if there is back up. If you want the back up, make sure you get it in writing.
Why did you establish bidmysolar and how does it work?
bidmysolar allows a homeowner to independently have a bespoke solar system meticulously designed, have all their questions answered specifically about their solar system, look at multiple system options and have a number of Clean Energy Council accredited retailers lodge blind bids to win their project.
Throughout that entire process, the client remains anonymous to the solar company. No one is going to be calling up and trying to sell them a solar system. So for the very first time, independently, without any pressure or rush, they’ll be able to make a very informed decision through the bidmysolar process.
Well there you have it! I hope you found this episode useful.
For further information on bidmysolar visit their website www.bidmysolar.com.au
If you’re ready to reduce your emissions, your household waste, live toxin-free and embrace a more sustainable lifestyle with the support of Laura, join the Self Sufficiency in the Suburbs community today!
Over to you!
Have you installed a battery storage system at your home or office? Share in the comments below!
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