Is adding a battery to your rooftop solar worth it? Here’s how to… (2024)

Canary Media’s Electrified Life column shares real-world tales, tips, and insights to demystify what individuals can do to shift their homes and lives to clean electric power.

During apower outage or in the evening hours, ahome battery can have your back. Working along with solar panels on the roof, batteries can store excess clean power for when you needit.

But that flexibility doesn’t come cheap. Installing atypical battery that stores 10 to 13kilowatt-hours (kWh) costs $10,000 to $15,000, according to the clean energy marketplace, EnergySage. Contractors report that the No. 1reason people decide not to buy home batteries is because they’re too expensive.

Luckily, there’s agenerous 30 percent federal tax credit for solar and batteries that wrangles those costs down. Other incentives might be available to you too (more on thatbelow).

But given the high upfront cost of batteries, they won’t make sense for everyone. So are they agood fit for you? And if yes, what are the different features to consider? Electrified Life will help you answer these questions and more in two parts: This week, we’ll dig into what exactly having abattery gets you so that you can decide whether it’s aworthwhile investment. Next week, in part 2, we’ll discuss in more detail what to know about battery systems themselves before committing — for example, their sizing, chemistries, and energy management. Let’s get started.

What’s sparking your interest in batteries?

Before you decide whether to purchase abattery, it’s important to think through why you want one to begin with. There are two main reasons for getting batteries, according to experts: the resilience they offer and the financial savings they can deliver overtime.

In terms of resilience, abattery can supply backup power when the grid can’t. So as you weigh abattery’s pros and cons, it makes sense to think about how grid outages in your area do or could affect you. How frequent are they? How long do they last? And how much advance warning do youget?

Power outages can range from just annoying to life-endangering. Households on average in the U.S. experience 5.6hours per year without grid power, but some can lose it for days, weeks, or even longer. Sometimes outages have lead time, as when grid operators shut off power in order to prevent deadly wildfires sparked by downed power lines. But the extreme weather increasingly prevalent in awarming world — from blistering heat waves to freezing winter storms — can also knock out power unexpectedly when it’s needed most, plunging homes into darkness and precarity.

A battery system that can isolate — or island” — itself from the grid will cocoon you from these disruptions. For at least afew hours, it’ll be able to provide backup power to afew essential loads, keeping the internet up, phones charged, and food and medicine cool.

While afeeling of security and stability might not be quantifiable, avoided property damage is. For example, during intense storms, batteries can keep asump pump running so abasem*nt doesn’t flood: that can be an avoided cost of up to $25,000, according to EnergySage.

A typical battery system isn’t going to be big enough to back up your whole home though. Abattery might be able to store 10 kWh of energy, but an average home uses 29 kWh every day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. While you could buy enough batteries to supply that amount, it would likely cost $40,000 or more, says Emily Walker, the senior writer at EnergySage who leads its consumer education strategy.

A whole-home backup gas generator may cost less upfront than asolar-plus-battery system, but asolar-battery combo could save an owner money in the long term — up to $22,000 over 20years, an EnergySage analysis found.

Does abattery make financial sense given local policy andrates?

The other important point to consider is whether abattery along with solar panels will help you break even faster on the overall investment than you would with solar alone. The answer depends on your local electricity rates and how much your utility will pay you for solar power you send to thegrid.

If you live in one of the 34 states, Washington, D.C., or Puerto Rico that currently have mandatory net-metering policies, then abattery might not gain you alot financially. Net metering allows customers to sell their excess solar energy to the grid at the retail electricity rate, earning them credits they can use on their bills. When their solar production is low, and they need to buy energy from the utility, the credits can cancel the costs, driving the electricity bill down to even $0. In effect, the grid is acting like abattery — so solar owners don’t have to buy theirown.

Is adding a battery to your rooftop solar worth it? Here’s how to… (2024)

FAQs

Is adding a battery to your rooftop solar worth it? Here’s how to…? ›

Although expensive upfront, batteries can help you get through power outages and lower your utility bills. Federal and local incentives can sweeten the deal.

Is it worth adding a battery to existing solar panels? ›

Solar batteries are generally worth it for homeowners living in areas with higher electricity costs, no net metering programs, frequent electricity outages, or limited hours of sunlight. Stand-alone solar panels are an excellent investment, but a battery bank improves their functionality.

How much does it cost to add a battery to an existing solar system? ›

Adding a residential solar battery storage system can easily cost $10,000 to $20,000. It can be more expensive if the customer needs more than one solar panel battery and they must replace their existing inverter.

How much does a whole house solar system with battery backup cost? ›

The total solar battery price will depend on the battery size and type. A standard home solar panel backup system cost can range between $7,400 and $30,000, depending on the brand and battery type. Installation costs for labor and equipment can add another $3,000 to $4,000 to the solar panel battery cost.

What are three drawbacks to storing solar energy in batteries? ›

Q: What are the main cons of solar battery storage? A: The main cons are the high upfront costs, needing dedicated space for installation, more complexity in system design, and more maintenance of parts.

How much does a 10kW battery cost? ›

The cost of residential solar batteries ranges from $1,000 to $1,300 per kWh of capacity installed. Based on this, the cost of a 10kWh battery could range from $10,000 to $13,000, excluding any potential rebates or incentives.

Can I add a battery to my solar system later? ›

You may be wondering if it is possible to add battery energy storage to your existing system. The short answer is yes it is possible. But the chances are some rewiring to the solar panels will be necessary. Also, if your existing inverter is not suitable, you will need to replace it with a new one.

What is the lifespan of a solar battery? ›

How Long Will Solar Batteries Last? Most solar batteries on the market today will last somewhere between five to 15 years. While that is a significant amount of time, you'll likely need to replace them within your solar system's 25 to 30+ year lifespan.

How much does a Tesla Powerwall cost? ›

Purchasing one Powerwall with installation through Tesla costs $11,500. You can also order a Powerwall without installation through the Tesla website for $9,200. The total cost of your Tesla Powerwall system depends on how many units you buy, your solar installer and where you live.

How long will a solar battery run my house? ›

The average battery is about 10 kWh. In a power outage a fully charged 10 kWh battery should allow you to power your home for 24 hours. However, it is important to not entirely drain all the energy of the battery.

Is it better to have more solar panels or more batteries? ›

In this case, add more batteries and consider adding a few more panels as well. You might be using quite a lot of power during the day and the batteries are unable to charge back up quickly enough for nighttime activities. Adding more batteries adds power storage to your system.

How long will a 10kW battery last? ›

In such scenarios, a 10kW (10,000W) solar battery can provide approximately 10 to 12 hours of backup power. If your power usage is more sporadic, you might even squeeze an extra hour or two out of it - this will depend, again, on your usage. However, there is another crucial point to understand.

How many solar batteries are needed to power a house? ›

If you use a battery to go off-grid

Your solar panels produce electricity for an average of 5 hours a day, so you'll need enough stored electricity to last the remaining 19 hours. Based on the 6.3 kW electricity load above, you'll need about 120 kWh of battery capacity—or about 12 average solar batteries.

Should you install a battery with solar panels? ›

Without a solar battery connected to your solar PV system, any excess energy generated would be fed back into the National Grid. Adding a solar battery to your system is an excellent and efficient way to preserve and use renewable energy, helping you maximise the energy you generate for your home.

Is it worth getting a second battery with solar panels? ›

The amount of batteries and panels usually have nothing to do with each other. If you have more batteries, you will have more storage for the electricity that is generated. The amount of panels (in watts) will determine how fast your batteries charge.

Do I need a hybrid inverter to add a battery? ›

The good news is that batteries can be added to any grid connect inverter using a method called AC Coupling. Without getting technical this simply means that you don't have to worry about buying a 'battery ready' inverter. Some salespeople may try to convince you to get a 'hybrid inverter'.

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