Homeowners have so many options to consider when purchasing a solar energy system, and certainly everyone wants to get the most energy possible at the lowest cost. Some options are no-brainers, while others aren’t as clear. One of the most commonly asked questions about going solar is “are solar batteries worth the cost?”
The answer depends on several factors. Every homeowner has to take into consideration their budget, their family’s energy needs, and if a back-up power source is advisable in their location. Solar batteries are noiseless compared to other auxiliary power sources, offer more independence from the utility companies’ price volatility, and a lower carbon footprint making them an important investment for many homes.
Solar Batteries Are There When You Need Them the Most…
Solar panels absorb sunlight and convert it to energy to power homes. Excess energy that’s not immediately used by the home is stored in the battery, making it a critical back-up to keeping the lights, appliances, heating, and cooling systems running during power disruptions. Grid failures can happen anytime, anywhere, and a solar battery offers safety and peace of mind until the grid is restored… or until the sun rises again and the panels go back to work.
For people whose utility company uses time-of-use (TOU) rates, which increase the cost of electricity during peak times (usually evening), a solar battery can minimize the amount of energy the house takes from the grid, thus avoiding the extra cost. But this only works for solar systems that are sized correctly for battery storage.
…But They Are an Investment
Solar batteries range in price from $8,500 to $10,000, and labor can cost an additional $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the model and installation difficulty. Like all batteries, solar batteries naturally degrade over time and require regular maintenance to keep them operating efficiently. It is a big investment, and homeowners would be wise to keep their batteries in good shape so they last as long as possible. The lifespan of most solar batteries is five to 15 years, while the lifespan of a modern solar system is 20 to 25 years.
Now or Later: When to Buy a Solar Battery
It’s best to purchase the entire solar system and battery together. Solar installers analyze everything about the house (its roof, vents, sun exposure, shade trees, energy needs, and more) to create a panel design that will generate as much energy as the house requires. They’ll factor in enough energy to store in a battery if the customer wants one, otherwise, there’s no point to installing more panels than necessary. Customers who put off buying a battery, or have had solar before batteries became available and want to add one, may have an underpowered system that will need more panels. They’ll also need a grid-tie inverter that works with a battery, and changing that will add a substantial cost. Plus, the cost of batteries isn’t likely to come down significantly in the future.
Once you’ve decided to include a battery, analyze your appliances, HVAC, and energy usage patterns. Some batteries have higher usable capacity for more hours of energy; some are better for powering energy-intense appliances; while others have a higher power rating and can power more areas of your home simultaneously.
Inflation Reduction Act Tax Incentives and Financing
Solar batteries purchased separately, and solar systems with batteries that are installed between 2022 and 2033 qualify for a 30% federal clean energy tax credit. Talk to a tax accountant to find out if you can take advantage of the credit. The system must be installed on the homeowner’s main residence in the U.S., the battery must be a minimum of 3 kWh, and the credit applies to the total cost of equipment, labor, and sales tax.
In addition to the federal clean energy tax credit, enter your ZIP code into the DSIRE website to find out if there are state and local tax incentives and rebates in your area.
Clean Energy Credit Union offers financing for solar batteries, and entire solar systems to its members. Our mission is to make clean energy accessible to more people. Whether you’re building your dream home, or investing in your existing home, a Clean Energy Credit Union customized home-improvement loan can finance the energy-efficient upgrades you need to save money and live your values.