Can I Use Solar Panels Without Battery Storage? | Solar.com

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Can I Use Solar Panels Without Battery Storage?

With all the solar battery buzz, you might be wondering if they’re essential solar equipment. Can you even use solar panels on your home without battery storage?

The short answer is, yes you can. There are advantages to having a solar battery backup in certain situations, but it’s not essential for everyone.

Here are some settings in which solar plus battery can help, and some in which sticking with simple rooftop solar panels could be the way to go.

How to Use Solar Panels Directly Without Battery

If battery storage isn’t in the cards for now, don’t worry! You can use your solar panels directly without battery storage. Here’s how it works:

Early morning and evening are times with lower solar production, but higher energy needs. You’re waking up and getting ready for the day, or making dinner and doing homework with the kids. That’s when you’ll need a lot of power, but also when solar panel production is just getting momentum or tapering off.

During these times (and especially at night) solar owners without battery storage draw power from the grid, which acts as a giant energy backup system.

But during the day — even when it’s cloudy — your solar panels are likely providing more than enough energy to power your home. The excess energy is sent into the grid to power your local community.

Simply put, when the sun’s shining, you use your own solar power and send excess power to the grid; when it’s not, you draw from the grid.

This kind of setup is called a grid-tied system. This could be considered a way to “store energy” without needing a battery system.

If you have your own battery storage, you likely won’t transfer much energy to or from the grid. You store your own energy and pull from that, and the grid serves as a backup to the backup.

solar-with-and-without-battery-storage

Net energy metering

If you live in a state with net energy metering, you earn credit for sending your excess energy to the grid. At the end of the year, those credits are used to offset the cost of the energy you pulled from the grid. With just a recent energy bill, solar.com can generate multiple quotes for solar systems that offset 100% of your electricity use.

That means instead of paying for grid energy, you’re only paying for your solar equipment. And once you’re equipment is paid off, you’re paying nothing for electricity!

net metering for Solar panels without batteryHybrid Systems: When a Battery is Most Useful

Using solar panels without battery storage is a viable option for most people. However, a battery backup system might come in handy the most for people who live in areas with:

  • An unreliable power grid
  • A lot of natural disasters
  • Frequent Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS)

If you simply like the idea of being completely independent of the grid or using 100% clean energy, a battery is probably your answer. While it would be nice to only pull your own clean energy back from the grid, that’s not necessarily how it works. When you pull grid power, it’s from a general pool, which could include sources from fossil fuel plants.

Hybrid systems are solar with battery banks and grid connection all working in concert together. The batteries are set to maximize using your own solar power (for some savings in Time Of Use rate areas), and are available for when the grid goes down. In normal scenarios, if your own solar and battery generation isn’t enough, you’ll have grid power to draw from.

Off-Grid: When a Battery is Required

If you live in a remote, isolated area without a central utility grid, you will need a battery storage device to capture your solar generation for later use. This is essential if you want to have the lights on at night when your system isn’t generating.

Fortunately, the Inflation Reduction Act expanded the tax credit to 30% of the gross cost for battery storage. Learn more about the Residential Clean Energy Credit for battery storage here.

Is It Okay to Use Solar Panels Without Battery Storage?

If you’re fine with drawing from the grid and not particularly worried about power outages, you might not need a battery. Most outages in the U.S. are fixed within a few hours or a day or two at the most.

A typical solar battery’s storage capacity is sized to provide electricity to critical loads for about one or two days in case of a power outage. So, while a solar battery could smooth out that power loss, it’s a matter of weighing the cost of a battery versus the benefits to you.

Using solar power alone without energy storage and just pulling from the grid will still significantly reduce your carbon footprint. But if you’re bothered by the idea of pulling power from fossil fuel plants at all, another option is selecting to use only renewable energy sources from your utility company when your panels aren’t producing. These renewable programs aren’t available everywhere yet, so check with your utility provider to see if it’s an option for you.

Lastly, although batteries qualify for the 30% federal tax credit in addition to some state rebates, such as California’s SGIP. Before you count on these incentives, consult a licensed tax professional make sure you know whether or not you qualify.

If you have any questions about any of this, Solar.com Energy Advisors know all the ins and outs. Feel free to ask away!

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