Solar Energy: How does battery storage work?

While there is definitely a rise in the popularity of solar energy use through panels, the same cannot be said for battery storage systems. According to research, only 4% of global residential solar installations had a battery system in 2020.

Although this figure is expected to rise to 50% by 2030, many homes are yet to optimize the full potential of their panels due to the absence of on-site storage.

If you’re curious about battery storage or wondering if they are the right choice for you, then stick around as we dive into crucial information on what these systems are and how they work.

Photo by iStock

Battery Systems and How They Work

Battery storage is an excellent addition to your solar panels as they store the excess solar energy generated by the panels and make them available for nighttime usage. Generally. solar batteries contain two materials; lithium-ion, the most popular battery storage and lead-acid, cheaper and older storage. These materials react inside the battery causing it to discharge and store electricity.

In a solar panel system that is connected to battery storage, the panels convert light from the sun to DC electricity. Then the battery then stores the energy, which is used during the day.

However, since panels generate more power than is needed when there is enough sunshine, this surplus energy is used to charge the batteries, which is utilized at night, or when sunlight availability is low. Similarly, when the panels aren’t generating sufficient power, the battery discharges reserve power to ensure the building receives enough electricity.

In panel systems without battery storage, the system sends the extra energy generated to the power company, causing homeowners to buy conventional electricity from power companies at night. Hence, making battery storage an excellent addition to your solar panel.

Battery Configuration

While batteries essentially function the same way, the way they will work significantly depends on how they are configured. Here are three main ways batteries can be configured:

  • Connecting the panels to the grid as well as a battery system: In this case, you may charge your battery and just keep it as a backup. Here, you rarely discharge it and mostly buy and sell power from the electric company.
  • Only connecting your solar panels to a battery system: Filling and discharging the battery often when you want power at night or in climates with low sunlight. This is particularly helpful if you live in areas that are far from electrical utilities.
  • Configuring your battery to only work at expensive times: If you live in an area with electricity rates that vary depending on the time of day, you may configure battery backup to only provide power at the most expensive times. In this way, you can choose to buy electricity from the grid only at the least expensive times, saving substantial costs.

Benefits of Battery Storage

  • They reduce dependence on the grid.
  • They allow homeowners to use power during peak hours when power companies sell electricity at a higher rate.
  • They ensure an uninterrupted power supply regardless of climate or power grid problems.
  • They save costs and is an excellent long term investment.

Battery Storage Lifespan

Battery systems last anywhere between 5–15 years, depending on how they are used and maintained. As they get older, they lose their ability to store and discharge power for future use. Additionally, since solar panels have a 20 to 30-year life span, you must be prepared to buy another battery before you have to replace your panels.

However, it is essential to note that most manufacturers provide warranties that will cover your batteries for a given time.

Conclusion

While solar power helps you save costs and keep your environment clean, pairing it with battery storage can help you do much more. A battery provides access to a more reliable, sustainable, and uninterrupted power supply at a cheaper cost.

If you’re considering buying or installing a battery or solar panel, please call us on +234 818 574 4595. At PAMAfrica, we provide consultations and installations of bespoke batteries, solar panels, and so much more!

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PAM Africa

PAM Africa

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Improving the lives of Africans by providing quality energy access