As solar power becomes increasingly popular, more homeowners are exploring how they can store more of the energy their solar panels generate with battery storage. In fact, the U.S. was the second biggest energy storage market last year and residential homes played a large role.
Dan Glaser, a senior sales engineer for Panasonic, says that a desire by homeowners to be more self-sufficient is driving the demand for energy storage.
“Some of the interest is from homeowners who want access to backup power during grid outages,” he says. “In other cases, people are interested in strategically using stored power, especially if they live in areas where they can’t put it back on the grid.”
An energy storage system, which is an on-site unit for storing energy generated by your solar panels, makes this possible. Glaser says that asking these key questions before you buy ensures you find the right system for your home and budget.
What components do you need for a proper battery storage system?
A standard battery storage system (also referred to as energy storage or solar storage systems) comprises batteries for storing the power and at least one inverter for converting the energy into a usable form. In some instances, there’s also a software component for monitoring energy usage remotely. Glaser notes that you can purchase one unit that includes all these components, often in conjunction with your solar panel purchase. Or you can buy a standalone system to retrofit an existing photovoltaic (PV) setup.
Whichever you decide, Glaser says this is not a DIY project. “The technology is complex enough that you want a professional installer who is familiar with how it works, and aware of local codes and regulations.”
AC or DC battery storage?
These terms — alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) — refer to the direction the power flows. Solar panels produce DC electricity and that’s what most batteries store. However, your house and most of the appliances in it require AC power.
The system that works best for your home depends on whether you already have an existing solar power system. While an AC-coupled system requires two inverters and is often less efficient, if you have a pre-existing solar setup, then it’s the only option available.