Can You Store Solar Power?

by Anna Gretz
November 29, 2017
Home Battery

In 2016, 2% of the United States’ electricity generation came from solar power… but it could have been a lot, lot more. In fact, it could have been ALL OF IT. In about an hour and a half, the sunlight that touches the surface of the planet could power all of the Earth’s electrical demand for an entire year. Yeah, you heard that right. Every single day, the sun dishes out free, clean energy. The problem isn’t that there isn’t enough solar power… it’s that we’re not capturing it all.

We’re definitely generating more electricity from solar power than we ever have before. The growth of new solar power installation in both the commercial and residential sectors has been exponential the last few years. Homeowners and businesses have been soaking up the sun to power everything from refrigerators to computers… during the day, that is. Everything changes when the sun goes down.

Everyone, especially the owners of rooftop solar, is familiar with the sun’s routine. At the end of the day, the sun is going to go down, whether it’s in charge of keeping your lights on or not. Many solar households are pretty frustrated by the sun’s intermittency… but they don’t have to be. There’s a way to keep the sun working for you, and providing electricity for your home, even in the middle of the night. Sounds awesome, right? It’s called Energy Storage.

Yes, you can store solar power. All you need is a home battery.

The simplest and best way for homeowners to solve solar power’s energy glitch is to install a solar battery--a battery that stores energy from solar panels during the day, so you can still use solar generated electricity at night. It really is that simple. Solar batteries are charged each day with electricity generated by solar panels (or, alternately, they can be charged with electricity straight from the grid.) These daylight hours are usually times that households need electricity the least; households are lit with natural light (thanks to the sun… again) and many people are out of the house. During these hours, unstored electricity generated by solar panels either goes unused, or leaks back into the power grid. With a solar battery, this energy is waiting to welcome you home to a fully-charged house, ready for whatever you have planned for the evening.

Team Solar + Storage has some pretty well-known supporters. A big one is Tesla CEO Elon Musk. According to Musk, a home battery is the only way to maintain the value of the electricity you generate with solar panels.

It’s time for households with rooftop solar to take their energy systems to the next level with home batteries. They’ll have to if they want to protect the value of the energy generated from their solar panels, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Tesla Motors recently unveiled a new home battery model called Powerwall, that charges using electricity generated from solar panels. According to Musk, every home with solar panels needs a home battery.

“Without a home battery, excess solar energy is often sold to the power company and purchased back in the evening [at a higher price],” Musk argues “The mismatch adds demand on power plants and increases carbon emissions.”

If this sounds like a lose-lose situation, that’s because it is. Houses with solar who don’t also have energy storage like home batteries have no way to use the excess electricity generated during the day when the sun is shining and solar energy is in abundance. When households have solar energy they can’t use, it goes back into the power grid. often, power companies pay households for giving back the extra power generated by solar, but not as much as they charge for the same amount of electricity later in the day, when people actually need it. Without a home battery, solar customers end up paying extra for the electricity they generated themselves, just like paying the power company to store the energy for them so they can use it later. Instead of giving more money to the power companies, why not just store it yourself? With a home battery, solar households have this opportunity.

Instead of selling electricity back to the grid, home battery owners get to keep their energy, and use it whenever they need it. This eases the workload of power plants, decreasing carbon emissions, and saves money for households with solar at the same time. Taking this into consideration, it’s hard to argue against Elon Musk when he says that all solar panel owners need a home battery. Without a home battery to store excess electricity, solar owners continue to throw money, and energy, at the power companies. Home batteries keep electricity and money in the hands of the consumer.

Wondering what, exactly, home batteries are? Very fair question. A lot of articles talk about them without actually talking about them. Right now, the predominant home battery technology is lithium ion batteries. Lithium, the lightest of all metals, has the greatest electrochemical potential. This means that lithium provides the highest energy density per weight, far lighter and more efficient than the previously popular lead acid battery. Lead acid batteries can weigh a ton (not literally, but you get it), making them far more difficult to transport. The weight of lead acid batteries also makes usability much less convenient for residential customers.

Lithium-ion technology has now taken the lead, and it has brought with it many advantages. In comparison to batteries that have been popularly used in the past, lithium-ion batteries are cleaner, live longer, recycle better, and require much less maintenance. Because so many people are waking up to the awesomeness of home batteries, the demand is growing considerably. With more people on the market, the market is growing… and you know what that means. The price of a lithium ion home battery is at an all-time low. That’s good news for everybody.

If you can stand even more good news, then check this out:

Swell has a program called EnergyShield, which offers a home battery plan that starts at just $1 a day. It’s a bundled package of premium black panel solar generation and a compact lithium-ion battery that can be your home’s gateway into the glorious solar energy storage world.

Swell believes that solar and storage are better when they’re together, and that every home deserves a chance to experience true energy security. Yes, you can store solar energy. Contact a Swell Energy rep if you’re ready to start.