The use of solar panels to generate green energy is on the rise. With an increasing number of home and business owners switching to renewable energy, there is now increasing concern about alternatives to battery backups for power storage.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how a solar battery works and why there is a need for a battery backup. We’ll also look at some of the alternatives to battery backups so you can decide on the right one for the solar panels at your home or business facility.
Why Do You need a Battery Backup for Traditional Solar Panels?
A solar panel backup battery is added to the solar power system as a means to store excess electricity produced by your solar panels.
The excess stored energy can be used to power homes when your solar panel doesn’t produce enough energy due to cloudy weather, winter seasons, and at night.
With a battery attached to your solar power system, you are not creating more energy. Instead, the energy that is produced by the solar panel is stored for later use. If the produced energy exceeds your backup battery’s capacity and cannot be stored, you can conveniently transfer it to the grid so other people can take advantage of cleaner energy.
How Do Backup Batteries Work?
The process starts with the solar panels on your rooftop that are generating power. As the solar panels generate power and convert the energy into DC electricity, it enters the battery and is stored as DC electricity.
When required, the DC electricity leaves the battery and enters the inverter to be converted into AC electricity which can be used to power the home.
Excess electricity then flows through another inverter which changes the AC electricity back into DC mode so the energy can be stored for later use.
In case the house needs to use that excess stored energy, the electricity will flow through the inverter again to be transferred into the type of electricity that can be used to power the home (AC electricity).
Benefits of Solar Battery Storage
Adding battery backup for solar panels is one of the best ways to ensure you get the maximum usage out of your solar panel. Some of the benefits you can enjoy with a solar battery storage system include the following.
Storage of Excess Electricity
Very often, solar panels have a much higher production capacity than the power you need. It is particularly true when there’s no one at home and the days are sunny.
If you don’t have battery storage, all the extra energy will be transferred to the grid. And at night or on cloudy days when not enough power is generated, you will have to get energy through the grid and pay an extra charge for it.
With battery storage, the extra electricity can be saved for later use which reduces your reliance on the grid for power.
Protects Against Power Outages
Since batteries are designed to store excess energy created by the solar power panel, it lowers your home’s or commercial facility’s reliance on the grid, especially in times of power outages.
Lowers Your Carbon Footprint
When you choose solar panels for power generation, you opt for clean energy that can be produced without harming the environment. If that energy isn’t stored and you end up relying on the grid, you will still be contributing to carbon footprints.
However, that’s not the case when you have a battery backup that can protect you from using dirty energy from the grid.
Provides Electricity In Uncertain Times
Whether it’s a cloudy day or the sun went down early during winter, when your solar panels aren’t generating electricity, battery backups continue to provide you with a clean energy source.
A Noiseless Backup Solution
A solar power backup battery is a completely noiseless backup power storage option that can provide you with clean energy without having to deal with a lot of noise.
Shortcomings of Backup Batteries
While there are several benefits of backup batteries, however, like with everything else, there are a few shortcomings of backup batteries that you must be aware of.
Backup Batteries Are An Investment
Using backup batteries with your solar panel system increases the complexity of the entire system and can make repair and maintenance more challenging,
When a backup battery system is attached to your solar panel system, the entire system will have an increased need for maintenance.
The lifespan of the backup battery depends on how often and how much the battery is discharged. Lead-acid batteries can be discharged to a maximum of 50%. However, Lithium-ion batteries can be discharged up to 80%. Discharging these batteries more than the suggested limit can decrease the battery’s lifespan.
Backup Batteries Alternatives
While battery backup is a popular energy storage solution, you should also be aware of possible alternatives to backup batteries.
The two popular backup battery alternatives include flywheels and supercapacitors. Let’s take a close look at how each of these alternatives works so you can decide on the best one for your home or commercial facility.
Flywheel Power Backup: How Do They Work?
A Flywheel power backup relies on mechanical processes to store energy. It consists of a mass rotating around an axis that stores energy as kinetic energy. The Flywheels power backup works by accelerating a rotor to a high speed and maintaining the energy in the system as rotational energy.
Flywheel energy storage is a great alternative to conventional batteries used as energy storage systems.
Compared to conventional batteries, Flywheel Energy Storing Solution requires little or no maintenance. Moreover, it is durable and energy-efficient that can produce a large power output (with an efficiency of up to 90%).
Furthermore, this storage solution isn’t influenced by fluctuations in temperature and is also considered more environmentally friendly.
However, the technology features the following disadvantages:
- Shorter discharge time
- Limitations as storage of energy increases
- Requirement for sturdy mechanics as low-quality bearings can lead to frictional loss
- The power backup system can be potentially dangerous when in failure mode
Super Capacitor Power Backup: How Do They Work?
Another alternative to battery backups for power storage is supercapacitors. They are high-capacity capacitors that operate at a lower voltage limit than other types of capacitors. However, how they function lies somewhere between the function of rechargeable batteries and electrolytic capacitors. Hence, using supercapacitors as power backup brings the following benefits:
- Can charge much more quickly than batteries
- Have a life span more than that of rechargeable batteries but less than electrolytic capacitors
- Can operate in a wide range of temperatures
However, supercapacitors have a few disadvantages. Perhaps the most significant one is that they cannot store as much energy as battery backup. While the speed of charging may compensate for smaller capacity yet, the lower storage capacity remains a major drawback of supercapacitor power backup.
Moreover, supercapacitors have a high self-discharge rate which means they cannot store energy for the long term. Furthermore, there is a gradual voltage loss that users may experience as the charge declines.
Solar power systems need battery backups to be able to enjoy a greater return on your investment. While battery backups make the most popular choice of backups, you can find other backup alternatives such as supercapacitors and Flywheels Energy Storing Solution.
At ALL Solar Energy Solutions, we recommend the use of battery backups as it makes it one of the most affordable and efficient energy storage solutions. If you are planning to upgrade your solar system’s backup, get in touch with us and let ALL Solar Energy Solutions take care of all your solar system’s backup power needs in Maine.
Learn more about ALL Solar Energy Solutions here.