6 Factors that Affect the Solar Battery Price
Solar batteries can significantly increase the value of a solar system for homeowners, particularly for resiliency against grid outages. Since there are multiple options on the market today, solar battery price can vary widely. Therefore, it’s worth breaking down a few key considerations that factor into solar battery price.
Solar Battery Price Factor 1: Capacity
The biggest factor that impacts the price of a solar battery is its capacity – the total amount of energy that it can store. Typically home batteries can store between 10 and 20kWh of electricity. How long a solar battery lasts in an outage depends on a range of factors – including how much power the home is drawing from it, what size solar system is connected to it, etc. – but at a basic level, the more battery capacity you have, the longer you’ll have power in an outage.
Solar Battery Price Factor 2: DC vs AC
For a deeper dive into DC vs AC batteries, please check out this article.
In short, DC batteries like LG Chem tend to be less expensive than AC batteries, since they’re less complex. However, DC batteries are also less flexible than AC batteries, and depending on the solar equipment the battery is paired with, a DC battery may not be an option at all. AC batteries including Tesla Powerwall, meanwhile, can be used with any solar system out there.
Solar Battery Price Factor 3: Balance of System (BOS) Equipment
Installing a solar battery is not as simple as sticking a battery to the wall and running a wire to the main electrical panel. There are other important pieces of equipment that are critical to making home batteries function properly.
The backup gateway is a device that detects power outages and, when one is detected, isolates the home from the electric grid. In that respect, it’s similar to a transfer switch for a generator. This is a critical component for allowing the solar battery to provide backup power without backfeeding power to the grid.
Image courtesy: Tesla
Critical Loads Panel
Most solar batteries have enough power to back up circuits up to 30amps. Therefore, the majority of battery systems do not back up the entire home, but rather just the circuits that are most important to the homeowner. So while the battery may not back up a central A/C unit, it would certainly be able to power essentials like a refrigerator, lighting, outlets to recharge portable devices, etc.
Therefore, installing a solar battery usually requires the installation of a sub-panel, often referred to as a “critical loads panel”, that houses the important circuits that will be backed up in an outage. When the outage occurs, the backup gateway isolates the home from the grid and switches the battery to feeding the critical loads panel, rather than the whole main electrical panel. This switchover only takes a fraction of a second – homeowners won’t even see their lights flicker!
Whole-home backups are possible with batteries, although doing so will require multiple batteries, as sufficient battery power is required for even the highest-amperage, most energy-intensive applications in the home. As a result, the majority of homeowners opt for a critical loads backup to save the cost of multiple batteries. However, for those who require the whole home to be backed up, batteries can still be a viable option.
Solar Battery Price Factor 4: Labor
After spending thousands of dollars on a solar battery, it’s best to make sure that the battery is installed properly, is fully permitted and up to code, and will function as intended for its full lifetime. It’s therefore essential to install the battery using a company that has experience with these systems. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!
Solar Battery Price Factor 5: Miscellaneous
In addition to those primary components, there is also ancillary equipment like mounts for the battery, conduits, and disconnect switches.
Solar Battery Price Factor 6: Incentives
Incentives also have a significant impact on the cost of a solar battery system.
The most widely-available incentive is the 26% federal tax credit. This is the same credit that applies to solar systems as well. However, the solar and battery have to be installed together in order for the battery to qualify.
California’s SGIP program is another widely popular incentive program for solar batteries. Certain criteria have to be met in order to claim this incentive, but if applicable, the SGIP will help to further reduce the system’s cost.
In conclusion, there are lots of different factors that contribute to solar battery pricing. Battery capacity, battery type, balance of system equipment, installation, and incentives all play a role in the final price of the system to the homeowner. For any specific questions on solar battery pricing, schedule a consultation with one of our Energy Advisors!