How is Solar Stored at Home?
Solar energy is the least expensive form of electricity in human history. It’s clean and efficient. And contrary to what you may have heard, it’s incredibly reliable - as long as the sun exists, solar will continue to be an excellent way of creating electricity.
So why isn’t solar everywhere?
It’s hard to store.
That’s the main problem with solar energy. The batteries that are currently available can certainly store some electricity - a lot, even - but they can’t store it for very long. That means you can’t rely on solar batteries to carry you through the winter in northern climates.
Fortunately, there are other ways of taking advantage of solar power. We’re going to discuss storing solar in two scenarios: on the grid, and off the grid. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how to unlock solar’s full potential.
Storing solar energy when you’re connected to the grid
Solar is, in some ways, at its full potential when homeowners are connected to an existing power grid. In these scenarios, the power grid itself acts as a form of storage - a giant battery for your solar energy, if you will.
Here’s how it works: utilities will sometimes have a power buying scheme in place, often called net metering. When your solar panels are grid-tied (connected to the utility’s electric grid), and you generate more energy than you need, the utility will buy that excess energy and credit you for it. Then, when winter comes around, you can use those credits to pay for your electrical bill.
This is, of course, a roundabout way of getting storage, but you can think of the electrical grid as one giant battery in this scenario. Most homes will produce more energy in the summertime than they can use (as long as you have a suitably sized array), and won’t be able to produce enough energy in the winter. Your utility purchasing your energy and distributing it through the grid is the best storage solution - and it helps make the entire grid more environmentally friendly.
Storing solar energy when you’re off the grid
Getting your battery set up
To understand how solar energy is stored in off-grid setups, you need to know a bit about solar batteries.
Most solar batteries are lithium-based, but there are constantly new varieties showing up on the market.
Installing solar batteries isn’t as easy as just picking up a set of AAs from your local grocery store. Unless you purchase a whole lot of batteries (and generate a whole lot of energy), your batteries won’t be able to power every appliance in your home - especially not your air conditioner.
As such, you may need to install a sub-panel to control the electricity passing through your solar battery. You’ll also need to create a space in which to house your solar batteries. This can be a time-consuming process, but it’s well worth it - you’ll be able to live off-grid.
Supplementing solar energy with other renewables
During the winter, you may find that even with solar panels and batteries, you’re not generating as much electricity as you might like. If that’s the case, you can opt to use personal wind turbines to generate more electricity. One of the advantages of these turbines is that you can design your battery system to accept both solar power and wind power.
Consider solar batteries even if you’re on the grid
Our friends at SRB Energy up in Canada recommend getting a solar battery in certain scenarios, even if you’re grid-tied. If your utility won’t offer you reasonable credits for the solar energy you sell them, you should consider a battery. In the same vein, if you’re in an area where blackouts occur frequently, a solar battery can act as an emergency power source.
As you now know, solar energy can be stored - it’s not nearly as unreliable as some might lead you to believe. Storage solutions for solar are becoming more and more efficient by the day - be sure to check out our wide selection of solar panel kits to see some of the solutions we have in store! Additionally, if you are looking to learn more or have questions about solar power - be sure and check out our comprehensive list of Solar Energy FAQ's.