When it comes to energy independence, solar batteries are an integral part of any solar system. Let’s explore exactly how solar batteries work and what they do. We’ll cover batteries that are paired with a solar array for your home or a commercial business.
Home Back-up Batteries Begin with Solar Power
The operation starts with solar panels on your roof gathering sunlight and generating power. The light is absorbed by the panels and it’s converted into electricity. The direct current (DC) produced by the system can be converted into alternating current (AC). It can remain as DC power but it depends on if the system utilizes a DC or AC battery.
How do solar back-up batteries charge?
The main priority for solar power is for the household. The electrical power produced by the solar system feeds the home’s main electric panel. It will power everything in the house.
- air conditioning
- electric vehicle (EV) charging station
Sometimes the system may generate more power than the household needs. Imagine a day when the weather is nice and the house is using a nominal amount of electricity. The sun shining on the panels is giving them more power than the home requires. These are the times when the system generates power that exceeds the home’s needs.
If there’s no battery present, the extra electricity generated flows back to the utility’s grid. This process is called net metering. This effect creates an energy credit toward the homeowner’s electrical needs. This is used to offset the extra energy to meet the needs of the house at night.
But the process is different if you have a battery attached to your solar system. Instead of the electricity flowing back to the grid, some of that energy is stored in the battery. The rate of energy flowing into the battery determines how fast the battery is charged, which depends on several factors. Factors like how big the solar system is on the property and the electrical demand of the household.
DC vs. AC Charging
Homes run on AC (alternating current). Batteries need DC (direct current) to charge. That’s why, you’ll notice, the block you use to plug in your phone or laptop is a little transformer that converts AC to DC power. So, if batteries need DC power to charge, is there such a thing as an AC battery?
How Back-up Batteries Work
Yes. An AC battery will accept incoming alternating current and utilizes an inverter to change it into DC power. Then the battery can accept a charge. When energy flows from the battery into the house, the inverter converts the DC power back into AC power. This in turn powers the house.
Most solar batteries are AC batteries. The best aspect of these types of batteries is they can be used with any solar system on the market. Solar inverters can easily be used with them since they can utilize AC output from any solar system. This creates great flexibility so they can be retrofitted into any existing solar array.
DC batteries don’t have a built-in inverter, they have to be charged from direct current power. A special inverter is needed to pass DC energy right into the battery without converting it to alternating current first. If the battery needs power for the house, the DC energy is pushed into an external solar inverter. This is where it’s converted into AC energy to power the home.
The best part of having DC batteries is that they have a higher level of efficiency. Anytime you convert DC into AC or vice versa, around 5% of the energy is lost in the process. The more you have to convert energy sources, the more power you lose. DC batteries can offer less conversion of energy. They’re also generally not as expensive as AC batteries, since they don’t require the extra hardware needed for an inverter.
Once the battery is fully charged, it can be used to power the house at a later date. There are two reasons why a homeowner would want to store power for later use:
1. Outage of Power
The first reason would be if there is an outage of power from the grid. If the energy from the grid is interrupted, the battery system kicks in and isolates the house from the grid and provides power to the home it needs. The battery becomes a mini generator to keep the lights on and the appliances working. This can mean that your home will remain fully powered even when your neighbors are completely without power.
2. Power Storage
The second reason is to store power to be used at a later period, utilizing the “time of use” (TOU) plan offered by some utilities. Several power companies are getting customers to switch over to TOU plans because they reflect wholesale energy cost fluctuations throughout the day. This is usually required when a solar system has been installed. The additional power the solar system generates during the day has less value than the energy drawn from the grid during the evening. Having a solar battery in place will help homeowners avoid peak-time utility charges and save more money on their electricity bills.
Solar Back-up Batteries for Your Colorado Home and Business
It’s a simple fact: solar batteries save up the excess power generated from your system. And they give you the freedom to use that power when it’s the most beneficial for you. A back-up battery can be an enormous help to your lifestyle and finances. Whether it’s to save money on your energy bills or during a power outage in your area.
Reach out to one of the solar professionals at Steel City Solar. We’ll answer any questions you may have about solar power and storage batteries for your home. We can customize the perfect system for you and your family. We can also provide a range of back-up battery options along with installation. Give us a call today at 719-569-5166 or visit our website for a free estimate.