Are Solar Batteries Worth It?

Are Solar Batteries Worth It?

Are solar batteries worth it?

Adding solar batteries to your home is the best way to slash your bills to zero and achieve energy freedom. However, deciding to install solar batteries isn’t always a simple equation. While this innovative technology has come a long way, solar batteries still require a significant investment on top of a standard solar system.

This leaves some homeowners asking themselves: are solar batteries worth it? 

As you lose much of the energy your solar panels produce without batteries, it's wise to explore whether it makes sense to install home battery storage. Here, we break down the major factors in your decision, helping you reach an informed conclusion that supports your everyday needs. This way, you can decide to invest or wait a little longer as prices gradually drop.

What are solar batteries?

Solar batteries add a new dimension to your home solar system, enabling people to store more of the energy they generate. In the past, energy companies paid their customers lucrative ‘feed-in tariffs’, where excess power produced from home solar panels was fed back into the grid to help power homes and businesses.

Yet now that many Australian homes have solar, the grid can’t handle all the excess energy produced, meaning some goes to waste. Instead, solar batteries are an exciting alternative, as you can capture the energy generated – particularly when you’re not at home – and use it even when the sun isn’t shining.

On the surface, solar batteries are a great idea. However, the cost of installing these cutting-edge products remains expensive. While solar batteries will help slash energy bills, the time required to payback your purchase might not add up depending on factors like your solar system size, location and energy consumption.

How do solar batteries work? 

Most solar batteries in Australia use lithium-ion chemistry to store excess solar electricity as energy. While solar-powered homes without batteries often need to use the grid to keep up with demand, solar batteries convert this stored energy into electricity when you need it.

When you’re at home and your energy consumption rises above the power produced by your solar panels, a charged solar battery can help make up the difference without using the grid. Once the power depletes from the battery, your solar system will work to refill it the next day.

The main types of solar batteries

When exploring if solar batteries are worth it, consider the varying solar batteries available on the Australian market. Check out this brief explanation of the main types to understand how these might suit your needs.

Lithium-ion: Most modern solar batteries use lithium-ion, with these products known for their reliability, efficiency and capacity. This improved technology comes with a higher cost, potentially making it unsuited to homeowners on a strict budget.

Lead-acid: While lead-acid batteries used to be the go-to choice, lithium-ion technology has largely superseded them. Some people living off-grid still opt for lead-acid batteries due to their lower cost and long-proven functionality.

Flow batteries: Flow batteries offer an alternative to lithium-ion, as they can be fully discharged without impacting battery longevity. Plus, they work in extreme climates while being cheap to refurbish. However, consider the high cost and reduced lifespan.

Benefits of solar batteries

Although solar battery costs are a hurdle for homeowners, the benefits are massive in many circumstances. Not only can some homeowners say goodbye to energy bills, but you can also protect your home against blackouts while reducing your environmental impact.

Reduced bills

If you have a solar system without battery storage, you’ll probably need to use energy from the grid to access power throughout the day and night. This means you’ll still need to remain mindful of your energy bills. However, a sufficiently sized solar system combined with battery storage enables many homeowners to avoid the grid entirely. In the best-case scenario, you can reduce your energy bills to zero.

Power during blackouts

Australia has unpredictable weather with heavy rains, powerful winds and sweltering days occasionally leading to blackouts. If you want to maintain power when the grid goes down, installing solar batteries is a great solution. However, you’ll need to choose solar batteries with backup capabilities that provide enough capacity for your home’s needs.

Slashed carbon emissions

Reducing emissions is a key consideration for countless Australians looking to install a solar system. Those who invest in solar batteries can often slash their reliance on the grid to virtually nothing, meaning their energy consumption is powered by renewables. Meanwhile, excess power generated can go back into the grid as sustainable energy.

Understanding the cost of solar batteries

You’ll need to fully understand solar battery costs before launching into the process. With no one-size-fits-all solution for every home, the costs can fluctuate significantly depending on your circumstances. 

However, in general, the cost of solar batteries runs about $10,000 before installation, with products offering advanced features and higher capacities more expensive. As solar batteries have increased in popularity, customers now have numerous local and international options.

Choosing a reputable manufacturer is usually best, as cheaper batteries may have performance issues or short warranties. Installation costs are also crucial, typically ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on complexity.

Achieving a return on investment

The upfront cost of solar batteries might seem daunting, but achieving a return on investment (ROI) in less than a decade is now within reach for many homeowners. For example, those with larger solar systems can keep their solar batteries charged throughout the year and access free energy year-round, helping to payback costs quicker.

Your ROI also depends on your energy provider, with time-of-use tariffs highly beneficial compared to flat rates. As this allows you to adjust your energy usage depending on peak and off-peak pricing, making the most of your solar battery storage during expensive periods boosts how fast your investment pays off.

Where you live also impacts your ROI. As each part of Australia offers various energy prices, solar system expenses and sunlight hours, solar batteries make more sense in some regions than others. For example, Perth-based homeowners can expect to payback costs within 5-7 years, while those in Melbourne might have to wait around 10 years.

Factors to consider

There’s no shortage of factors when evaluating whether solar batteries benefit your home and lifestyle. Review the following considerations to ensure you make an informed decision.

Rebates and industry fluctuations

Although numerous government schemes encourage homeowners to install a solar system, this doesn’t always include battery technology. Outside of the Northern Territory, there are currently no federal battery rebates. However, those in Victoria and the ACT can access interest-free loans to help manage their costs. Check with your local and state governments regularly to see if you're eligible for assistance.

Compliant installation locations

The installation of solar batteries is heavily regulated, with standards like AS/NZS 5139:2019 defining specific safety obligations. This includes where your solar batteries can be installed, such as not within 600mm of windows and doors leading into habitable spaces. You’ll need to remember this when installing solar batteries, as the most obvious spot might not be compliant.

Energy network limitations

Some homeowners want to increase their solar system size to maximise their new solar batteries. However, your energy network might have policies that dictate your options. This can mean you must navigate a complex approvals process to gain permission or find yourself ineligible for feed-in tariffs and other benefits.

Are solar batteries worth it?

So, are solar batteries worth it? The answer, unfortunately, isn’t straightforward for everyone. If you live in an advantageous market with a suitably sized solar system, achieving a return on investment in under 10 years is quite possible. And with energy costs rising across Australia as solar battery prices decrease, the financial outlook makes even more sense.

Yet many homeowners struggle to justify the cost of solar batteries, especially when blackout protection isn’t a priority. If you already find value in your existing solar system, perhaps waiting a little longer to see how the technology matures is wise. Of course, if you have the budget to spare, freeing your home from the grid with renewables is hugely rewarding.

Explore solar batteries with Rainbow Power Company

Discover solar batteries with Rainbow Power Company – we’ve led Australia’s solar revolution since 1987. Get in touch with our friendly team to learn more about our off-grid and hybrid solutions.

Solar Battery FAQs

How many years do solar batteries last? 

Properly maintained solar batteries in temperate climates can last upwards of 15 years.

What happens to solar power when batteries are full? 

Once your solar batteries are fully charged, excess energy redirects into the grid. However, if you live off-grid, battery charge controllers are used to prevent flow.

Are solar batteries getting cheaper? 

Yes, solar batteries are getting cheaper. As the technology matures and more competitors enter the market, the cost of solar batteries is expected to fall further.

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