How to get the most out of your solar battery

If you’re deciding on a solar battery for your property, it can pay to seek professional help.

Homeowners considering the installation of a battery first need to understand what size battery suits their needs.

Brisbane solar company GEM Energy's National Sales Manager David Gilles said it was important to understand how much solar energy was being produced, consumed and exported during the day before making the decision.

“Always talk to a professional and have an understanding of your power usage and the times of day most power is consumed in the home," Mr Gilles said.

“For most Australian homes, the mornings and evenings are the most common times of usage, and these are called the peak usage times.”

Mr Gilles said installing an exceptionally large battery on a small solar system could mean there was not enough power being generated to completely charge the battery each day. 

If the battery was too small it would be charged very early in the day and the stored energy would be used up quickly.

“This will then put more dependence back on the grid supplying power to the home at night,” Mr Gilles said.

He said battery and solar system sizes could range widely in capacity so it was important to have your system professionally designed to suit the particular needs of your household. 

“The most important aspect of sizing a battery is ensuring that the battery cycles frequently,” Mr Gilles said.

“This means that the battery is getting used fully on most days.”

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Mr Gilles said it was not necessary to install a battery at the same time as getting a solar power system, with some customers opting to add a battery later, or not at all.

He said customers had to weigh up the cost of a battery against the benefits.

Mr Gilles the feed-in tariff offered to homes exporting large amounts of solar into the network was decreasing making battery systems more attractive.

“Every home situation is different,” he said.

“If you are a household that is out for most of the day and most of the power usage will be in the mornings and night, then a battery would make for a more attractive investment.

“This is because the solar system will charge the battery during the day, which can be consumed when the homeowners arrive home.

“A battery return on investment, when paired with a new solar system, can range anywhere from 10-15%. This is considerably higher than most blue-chip investments available.”

When considering a solar and battery storage system, customers could achieve further savings by considering switching to time-of-use tariffs and virtual power plant (VPP) revenues. 

With GEM Energy, it is now possible for south-east Queenslanders to join a VPP that could help generate hundreds of dollars of additional savings per year.

Mr Gilles said most GEM Energy customers were choosing to finance their solar and battery systems and that the monthly repayments are often very similar to the monthly savings on the power bill. 

As a result, customers were able to purchase a solar and battery system with very little impact to their monthly cash flow.