Article by Anna Gretz, Swell Energy
Energy storage is here.
Solar battery technology has taken off worldwide, and buzz about batteries has taken over every venue from Twitter to the water cooler. With every solar battery company filling the market with its own pitch, it can be a little hard to sort the information out, and see which solar battery is the best choice. We get it. That’s why we at Swell, a provider of intelligent home energy storage solutions, did it for you.
Welcome to your simplified guide to home batteries. We’ve taken several current and up-and-coming models that we are excited to provide, and laid out the essential stats. We’ve collected the information you need on price, availability and compatibility in a chart that lets you easily compare solar batteries side to side. We’ve also added concise reviews, free of biased marketing rhetoric, and added a few questions you should ask before investing in your own solar battery installation.
Let’s dive in.
Residential solar batteries:
Let’s break this down a bit:
The difference between Lithium Ion (li-ion) and Lithium Iron Phosphate: Lithium Iron is a newer addition to the rechargeable lithium battery family. Lithium iron batteries are slightly heavier and more bulky in size than lithium ion batteries. The discharge rate of a li-ion battery keeps increasing over time as compared to lithium iron, but brand new li-ion batteries have more storage density than their lithium iron counterparts. As far as durability goes, lithium iron rates higher, lasting up to twice the number of charge/discharge cycles as li-ion solar batteries.
Compatibility with Existing Solar: This is a big deal if you already have solar panels installed, and want to hook up a solar battery to store the energy you’re producing every day. With some models, this simply isn’t possible. Make sure to read up on this if you’re an existing solar user.
Max Continuous Power: This is the amount of electricity you can use from your solar battery at one time. This varies considerably from model to model, so it’s good to be aware of each battery’s power output, as well as how much energy you use in your home performing various functions (like running the dishwasher, or watching television.)
California & Federal Incentives: The state of California has put up a good chunk of cash available for homeowners who are looking to upgrade their home energy systems, including incentives for solar batteries, through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). We’ve included an estimate of the cost of each battery when the California incentives have been applied in combination with the Federal investment tax credit. Make sure you consult with your solar battery provider and tax professional to understand which incentives are available to you.
Each Solar Battery in a Nutshell
If you already have solar panels installed, the LG solar battery is going to give you great bang-for-your-buck. The LG solar battery allows for outdoor placement, which is great for households with limited indoor space. Another big advantage is the E-Gear energy management controller, a smart technology that comes with the LG solar battery. The E-Gear controller gives complete visibility and control into the use, generation and storage of energy in your home. This smart tech allows you to enable backup power, monitor self-consumption, and lets you know the rise and fall of energy rates, so you can jump at the chance to store energy when rates are lowest, and use it when rates rise during peak demand hours (this is commonly called time-of-use shifting.)
Designed in Germany, the Sonnen solar battery is a top premium choice for new and existing solar installations. It has definitely already proven itself in the market, with over 10,000 systems installed in Europe. The intelligent energy management controller and 10,000 cycle life make it a long-lasting, versatile option capable of any conceivable use. The clean design will appeal to those who value beauty in addition to function. The Sonnen solar battery is one you might put in a living room so clients can show it at their next dinner party.
Tesla’s Powerwall solar battery is a great basic choice for new solar installations. Unfortunately, it is not currently compatible with existing solar installations, which means if solar panels are already installed, it might not be the best choice. However, its gorgeous, slim design and its ability to be located outside makes it an attractive option for many new or non-solar customers. It lacks the intelligent energy management controls of other systems, but provides basic backup power and time-of-use shifting.
The Orison battery is the first truly plug-and-play home battery system, meaning there is no professional setup required. However, it is currently in the prototype stage and is not yet proven in the field. Like many Kickstarter products, whether and when it comes to market is still to be seen. Unlike systems that require professional installation, the Orison cannot backup a whole house and is limited to just one circuit.
Like Tesla, Mercedes is leveraging its expertise in the electric vehicle industry to bring a home battery to market, starting in its home country of Germany. The system is similar in architecture and functionality to the Tesla, but will not likely be available until early 2017 in the United States. Stay tuned for updates at swellenergy.com.
Anna Gretz writes for Swell Energy’s blog, The Swell. Swell Energy is a group of energy nerds in California with a dream of energy independence for everyone. For more information about Swell Energy or California’s SGIP rebates, go to www.swellenergy.com