Power your home the ECO -smart way by in­stalling so­lar bat­ter­ies

How home bat­tery sys­tems make sense of so­lar en­ergy pro­duc­tion in the wet and windy UK

T3 - - Saving Energy -

Adding stor­age bat­ter­ies to so­lar pan­els means you can stock­pile power for win­ter

Ev­ery­one wants to be green, but so­lar pan­els don’t seem that re­li­able an en­ergy source when you’re look­ing out of the win­dow in dreary win­ter. In­deed, so­lar en­ergy in the UK has al­ways been seen as some­thing of a fair-weather friend. How­ever, this has all changed with the in­tro­duc­tion of af­ford­able home bat­tery en­ergy stor­age sys­tems. These are de­signed to col­lect any spare so­lar power be­ing pro­duced, stor­ing it ready for when it’s needed, such as in win­ter.

Be­fore this, en­ergy gen­er­ated by so­lar panel sys­tems could only be used at the time it was cre­ated, dur­ing sun­light hours, which is the time most house­holds have the least de­mand for en­ergy. These new home stor­age bat­ter­ies can be thought of as ba­si­cally very large lithium-ion phone bat­ter­ies, and can help you store up to a whole day’s elec­tric­ity (roughly 13.5Kw for a two-bed­room home), ready for when you need it most.

There are a wide range of home stor­age bat­tery choices out there from brand-new star­tups to known in­dus­try names like LG, so when it comes to in­vest­ing in a bat­tery it’s im­por­tant to do your re­search. You need a bat­tery that matches your sup­ply needs – there’s no point buy­ing a large ca­pac­ity bat­tery if you aren’t pro­duc­ing enough to charge it, and there’s no point buy­ing smaller bat­ter­ies that can’t store the amount of en­ergy be­ing gen­er­ated.

Most bat­ter­ies are stack­able, as in you can add more bat­ter­ies in se­ries to store ex­tra power, but it’s im­por­tant to note that, quite of­ten, bat­ter­ies from dif­fer­ent sup­pli­ers will not work to­gether. It’s also im­por­tant to look at the life­time guar­an­tee of the bat­tery and its elec­tric­ity re­ten­tion (how long and how ef­fi­ciently it can keep recharg­ing and dis­pens­ing en­ergy).

Lead­ing the field in terms of ca­pac­ity (and value) is the well-known Tesla Pow­er­wall 2 (£6,200, tesla.com). The Pow­er­wall 2 bat­tery is in­cred­i­bly heavy, and stands at just over one me­tre tall, but sim­ple to fit for trained en­gi­neers. The so­lar pan­els, in­ver­tor and bat­tery in­stal­la­tion typ­i­cally takes a day, and you’ll be with­out power for part of that day. The bat­tery it­self can be fit­ted in a garage, but the Pow­er­wall 2 (and sev­eral other op­tions) are weath­er­proof, so fine to mount out­side.

Note that most of these bat­ter­ies are de­signed to in­te­grate with the grid, so they won’t come to the res­cue dur­ing a power cut – for safety rea­sons you’ll be cut off, just like your neigh­bours. It is pos­si­ble to con­vert the house to be com­pletely off grid, but this is a more com­pli­cated and ex­pen­sive pro­ce­dure. Re­mem­ber though, up un­til 31 March 2019 you can sign up for the Feed-In-Tar­iff scheme, in­tro­duced by the UK Gov­ern­ment back in 2010, where you’re paid 5.24p for ev­ery kWh you ex­port back to the grid.

The flex­i­bil­ity in en­ergy usage en­abled by adding stor­age bat­ter­ies to so­lar pan­els is a no-brainer. The Pow­er­wall 2 we in­stalled back in March 2018 (the one our neigh­bours teased us for be­cause it rained for seven straight days after in­stal­la­tion) has made a three-bed­room house con­tain­ing two adults and two chil­dren 76 per cent self-pow­ered since then. Here comes the sun!

Tesla makes so­lar roof tiles that look like reg­u­lar tiles, if you don’t want ob­vi­ous pan­els on dis­play

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