What to look for when buying a solar battery

Solar batteries are a long-term investment, so it’s important to be sure the one you pick is right for your home’s needs. We’ve pulled together some expert tips, so you know what to look for.

If you’re thinking of putting a battery on your home, there are several factors that will determine the best solution for your needs. Mark Kerr, Origin’s Group Manager of Large-Scale Solar and Operations, gives us the low-down.

Can I have a battery if my house has existing

Absolutely! You can add a battery to an existing solar system. A home with existing solar will be equipped with an inverter. The role of an inverter is to take the solar electricity and invert (or convert) it into the type of electricity your house needs.

“The choices are to take the existing inverter off and install a hybrid inverter, or to stay with the inverter you’ve already got and add a battery inverter” says Kerr. “The second option is what people normally choose, for good reason. Approvals can be simpler, and it’s also often less expensive to keep the existing inverter and purchase a battery with a battery inverter.”

What if my house doesn’t have solar?

If you don’t have solar already, go straight to a hybrid inverter. That way you’ll have just one inverter box on the wall, rather than two, Kerr says. “Hybrid inverters can be directly connected to a battery, managing inputs from both solar panels and the battery,” he explains. “They can charge batteries with power from the sun or from the electricity grid.”

How much back-up do you need?

Another consideration is whether you should back-up your house. During a blackout, do you want the ability to power your entire house with a full back-up, or do you want partial back-up – perhaps just the kitchen circuit including the fridge, some lights, and a few power points?

“If you’ve got a pool pump, you probably don’t want your battery to keep it running during a blackout, so partial back-up is often a good option” Kerr says.

Many choose to go with no back-up at all.

“The default, or the no back-up arrangement, allows you to get the maximum value out of the solar electricity you’ve generated, but it’s connected to the grid directly,” he says.

“If the grid goes down, the systems must be safe, so the battery will stop powering the house if there isn’t any back-up. But, for a little extra cost, you can do a partial or full back-up.”

On episode five of our So Watt? podcast, we delve into what you should look for when buying a battery for your home.

What battery suits you best?

Kerr says buyers should look at how much electricity they use, and how much excess electricity their solar system generates. That way, you can be sure you’re matching the battery to your energy environment.

If the battery is too large, the solar system will rarely be able to charge it fully.

If it’s too small, the return on your investment will be reduced as you’ll be sending much of the power you’ve generated back to the grid. It’s important, therefore, to ensure your battery is the right size for your system and situation.

What are the leading brands?

Origin’s most popular brand is LG Storage, Kerr says. “They make fantastic batteries and have for a long time. They’re one of the biggest battery manufacturers in the world. People like their batteries because they’re a recognisable and trusted brand, and their batteries come in a range of sizes to suit each customers situation” he explains.

Kerr says Tesla batteries are versatile and can be used on homes with or without existing solar. Tesla batteries come with their own battery inverter, so using a lower cost hybrid inverter isn’t an option with Tesla.

There are numerous options from many major electronics companies including Samsung, Sony and Panasonic and well-known battery manufacturers – such as BYD. That’s why a certain amount of research is vital before making your home battery-smart.

What if Kerr was choosing a battery for his own home? Which would get his tick of approval? “For my specific situation I’d put an LG on my house,” he says. “What’s most important is that buyers, in consultation with Origin’s specialists, make a decision based on their own unique situation.”

What does the future look like?

Until recently, all the electricity you used in your home or business came from large power stations transported through power lines and distribution networks. With more Australians generating their own electricity with rooftop solar and storing it in batteries, what if we could connect thousands (or even millions) of batteries and assets across countless locations and combine them into one big power station? Enter, Virtual Power Plants (VPPs).

Loop is the name we’ve given to our Virtual Power Plant, allowing customers to be part of a smart, connected energy network, contribute to a cleaner energy future and be rewarded for it. And now, we’re inviting more customers across Australia to join our rapidly growing network! Find out how Origin Loop can help you maximise the benefits of your home battery.

Ready to take the next step?

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