Table of ContentsHow much do solar batteries cost? What factors determine the cost of solar batteries? How do solar batteries work? Is a solar battery right for you? Solar energy by state
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- A solar battery allows you to store excess power for later use rather than sending it to the grid.
- Investing in a battery may make sense if you face frequent blackouts, use battery incentives, want to live off-grid, or have time-of-use power rates.
- A solar battery can cost between $6,100 and over $16,000, depending on its size and type.
The electricity use of every household changes throughout the day. Power consumption in a typical home is heaviest in the mornings and nights. Electricity demand tends to be lower during the day because people are usually away from their homes. However, daytime is the most valuable time for solar power generation.
If you own solar panels, they produce more energy than you can consume during the day. Unless you feed this excess generation into the power grid and get credit for it from your utility through net metering, adding a solar battery to your system may make sense. A solar battery stores surplus energy, which you can use whenever needed, either at night when production is low or when the power goes out.
How much do solar batteries cost?
Depending on the battery size and type, the price of a solar storage system can range between $6,100 and more than $16,000. Your average daily electricity consumption and the battery type can determine the solar battery capacity your home will need. Most grid-connected residential solar panels work well with lithium-ion batteries. While lithium-ion batteries can cost upwards of $16,000 with installation, you can get some of the best solar batteries for $6,100 plus installation.
Lead-acid batteries typically have smaller capacities than lithium-ion options, so they tend to be cheaper. You can find lead-acid batteries for around $300. However, they are more suitable for RVs and will not have enough capacity to power your home.
What factors determine the cost of solar batteries?
The cost of a solar battery will be unique to your needs, depending on the following factors.
- Battery chemistry. A lithium-ion solar battery can be more expensive than lead-acid batteries because the former is more efficient, powerful, and lighter. Lithium-ion batteries also have the highest energy densities of any battery type. High energy density is the amount of energy a battery has relative to its weight or size.
- Power capacity. The capacity of your solar battery is a critical part of the cost. A battery that can store more power costs more than a battery that stores less power.
- Critical load panel. As noted above, a critical load panel is an essential part of a solar storage system. It ensures the efficient use of your battery power. Installing the critical load panel can add $1,000–$2,000 to the total cost of a solar battery.
- Adding a battery to an existing solar system. It will cost you more to install a solar battery to an existing solar system than if you did it simultaneously. When a solar battery and solar panels are installed at the same time, the cost of labor could be lower because the permitting and wiring work is completed together. Adding a battery to an existing solar system will require obtaining new permits, additional electrical work to tie the battery to solar panels, and a new inspection of your electrical wires before a battery is turned on.
- Battery brand. Some battery brands cost more than others. It is worth noting that prices of certain batteries, for example, LG Resu and Delta BX6.3, include installation costs, which can save you money.
- Additional technological features. Built-in inverters, smart technology, and other new features may add to the cost of a solar battery.
How do solar batteries work?
Here is how a solar battery works with solar panels:
- Your photovoltaic solar panels absorb the energy from the sunlight and convert it to a direct current – or DC – electricity.
- The power flows into the battery, typically located out of direct sunlight in the basement or garage.
- The stored DC electricity moves from the battery to an inverter, where it converts to alternating current – AC – electricity to power your home and appliances.
During a power outage, a solar battery switches on. The battery automatically disconnects from the nearby electrical panel for safety reasons. Your utility company automatically turns off your solar panels to eliminate the risk of the solar system causing electric shock to the power grid. Your solar battery then starts to discharge electricity to power your home.
Your solar battery does not feed the existing electrical panel during a power outage. An important component of a solar battery is a critical load panel, which is equipment that serves as a second electrical panel. The energy from the solar battery goes to the critical load panel to ensure that you are powering the rooms and appliances you want. So, instead of sending the electricity from your battery directly into the main electrical panel or circuit breaker, a battery is designed to feed into the critical load panel to power the most important appliances and circuits.
If you use the stored electricity to power all your appliances, you will use up the energy in less than 24 hours. Bear in mind that some appliances use more electricity than others. And many appliances need more energy to operate than the battery’s total capacity output. Because a typical solar battery does not have enough capacity to power the entire home for an extended period, the critical load panel helps you use electricity efficiently.
Is a solar battery right for you?
Acquiring a solar battery may make economic sense if:
- There are solar battery incentives in your area.
- You experience frequent blackouts.
- You want to live off the grid.
- Your utility relies on time-of-use power rates.
Under time-of-use rates, the cost of electricity will be more expensive during peak hours (mornings and evenings) and cheaper the rest of the day and night. You can maximize your savings by using stored energy when electricity is expensive with a solar battery.
You can apply the 26% federal Investment Tax Credit toward solar batteries to cut their upfront cost. Some states have additional solar battery incentives. For example, California offers a solar battery incentive program known as Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), which can cover nearly a quarter of a battery installation cost. Oregon also has a solar battery rebate program to help lower costs for homeowners.
But batteries may not be the best option for all solar owners. While solar battery prices have come down in recent years, they are still expensive for most homeowners. It is an additional major investment on top of the cost of solar panels. If your state offers net metering credits with a full retail value per kilowatt-hour of electricity your solar system feeds into the grid, adding a solar battery won’t make much economic sense.
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