“Knowledge is power” as they say. This is certainly the case when it comes to understanding how you can maximise the use of solar energy in your home. Earlier this month I shared a piece on what to consider when exploring solar energy options for your home. Today I am taking it further, looking at how the new arrival of solar battery storage systems are helping us become even more self sufficient.
Home solar energy systems are an excellent way to draw free energy from the sun to power your household. But it does have some limitations. Solar systems only provide energy to your home whilst the sun is shining. This is great if you are at home during the day and can use it to power your washing machine, dishwasher, lighting and other appliances. But as you know, extra electricity consumption occurs in the evening when solar panels are not producing energy. Coming home after a day at work, your house starts to draw on higher energy consumption as televisions and computers get switched on, heating or cooling is required, and appliances get used as you prepare for dinner. As soon as the sun goes down at night or when it is cloudy, your revert to drawing energy back from the grid. This is where the benefit of having a battery storage system kicks in.
You can optimise your use of free energy from the sun both day and night, by including a battery storage system in your home solar set up. During the day when your home energy consumption may be lower, the excess energy produced by your solar system can be directed to the battery and stored for you to use later when required. You can also draw on it during times of grid electricity failure. Instead of fumbling around for candles in the dark during a blackout, you can utilise your battery storage to power up your home. You can also charge the battery off the grid during the night to take advantage of the lower energy rates.
So can you go entirely off grid with solar battery storage? The answer is variable as it depends upon your household energy consumption, roof space capacity for solar panels, how much sunshine you have each day and your budget. Your household battery capacity needs to be big enough to cover days of heavy cloud and low light. In rural areas that have back up diesel generators Tony Wood and David Blowers of The Grattan Institute state it is possible, but in urban areas with smaller roof spans they recommend using the grid as your back up source of power. “A 7kilowatt solar PV system, the minimum size needed to go off grid and have reliable access to electricity – is likely to require 60 and 70 square meters of roof space. Ideally the panels would face north and be tilted at about 60 degrees to maximise output in winter, although west and east facing roofs can be used if necessary. Many city houses do not have that amount of clear roof space“.
It is estimated a 7kW system installed in urban Sydney could generate 95% of yearly energy needs, leaving you with approximately 18 days to rely on the grid.
The introduction of battery energy storage systems are changing the future of solar energy use. Whether you are aiming to go completely off grid, looking to minimise your reliance on the grid, lower your electricity costs over the long term and/or looking for a more sustainable lifestyle, they are a game changer in times where incentives for government feed in tariffs are low. The sun is finally starting to shine on home solar systems.