Thursday, 16 Aug 2018
Home Improvement

Are Solar Panels and Energy Storage a Viable Solution to Reduce Electricity Bills ?

By: Alan Levine

Solar panels can do an awesome job on sunny summer days. However, you can’t expect them to produce as much energy on a dark and freezing winter day. The good news is that you may be able to store your electricity for the future by linking your solar panels to a home battery. This growing trend has been followed by Tesla and Nissan, both companies launching their own home battery brands. Unfortunately, none of them is really affordable just yet. In addition, Ikea has launched an offer of solar panels and an energy storage bundle, which they claim can save up to 70% on your annual electricity bill.

Energy companies have reacted to this trend by selling packages of solar panels and home batteries to homeowners willing to reduce their electricity bills. Residential construction companies such as Woodhams Group have also noticed a large influx of solar panel incorporation in their building plans. We’ve studied their offers, and the way home batteries work, so we are able to tell you what you need to take into consideration when making your choice.

What Are the Home Battery Options?

A home battery is an energy storage system that enables you to save the energy you produce or take from the gird, in order to use it at a later time. This energy can come from solar panels or wind turbines, but it can also be captured from the grid at the lowest price times. Powerwall, Tesla’s home battery, is one of the best in its class, as it links to a special app that allows you to see how much energy you’ve stored. Tesla’s energy storage solution costs about £5,900 and it appears to be maintenance free and almost totally silent.

Nissan’s battery, xStorage, is slightly cheaper in its basic variant, but also has a lower storage capacity. Apart from these two major players, Varta has its own home battery, which is about the size of a dishwasher, and which claims to be able to give a household complete energy autonomy. Whether this is true or not, only actual users can tell. You may want to search for user reviews on discussion forums and in other similar online communities before buying one brand or another. In addition, you should contact the representatives of each company, and ask them for more details about the features and the benefits of their home batteries. This will enable you to gain a better understanding of how these systems work, and how you should estimate whether you should buy one or not.

Should I Buy Solar Panels And A Home Battery?

If you produce your own energy, you should think about purchasing a home battery, as it might save you a lot of money. Nonetheless, your decision should depend on the amount of energy you are able to produce. If you consume almost everything you produce, there’s going to be very little electricity left to store. In this case, you won’t be able to break even too soon, as you’ll never manage to store enough energy to be worth it. You need to consider that a home energy storage system will cost you at least £2,000, and sometimes even £5,000 or more. Here’s what you need to take a closer look at when doing the math:

  • the cost of the installation
  • your electricity usage habits and needs
  • the chemistry of the battery
  • the type of connection (AC or DC)
  • the cost of the battery
  • the price of electricity
  • the lifetime of your battery of choice

A Long-Term Investment?

As long as batteries are expensive, you’ll need a much longer time for your investment to pay for itself. However, if batteries become cheaper, this will become a very interesting option, as the payback time will be much shorter. In terms of your electricity usage need and habits, you need to be aware that the more of it you use, the less you’re going to benefit from a home battery.