How does a solar battery work?
Have you ever met somebody who has so much energy you wish you could bottle it?
There’s not a way to store that kind of enthusiastic human energy (unless you count science fiction novels) but there is a way to store energy produced by the sun – through solar batteries.
When you have solar panels on your roof, you may be able to store any excess energy by investing in a solar battery. Here’s how it works:
- The sun shines on your solar panels.
- Your solar panels turn this solar energy into electricity, then send it through your inverter to use to power the lights, heating and cooling systems, electrical equipment and appliances you use in your home.
- If your solar panels make more electricity than you use during the day at home, this is generally fed back into the electricity grid. At night, you would usually draw from the grid to power your home.
- If you have a solar battery, your excess power could instead be fed into your battery. Your solar battery will store electricity and charge the battery, in a similar way to how your mobile phone battery stores its electrical charge.
- A solar battery has an inverter which can then turn that stored solar charge into electricity for you to use when the sun goes down.
Once your solar battery has been depleted, you would then draw electricity from the grid again until your solar panels are producing electricity again on the next sunny day.
The truth about solar batteries
Even if you have a solar battery installed as part of your solar system at home or in your business, you would still need to draw electricity from the grid at some stage (for example on rainy, cloudy days with no sunshine).
Be wary of any solar supplier who promises you will have no electricity bill with solar panels or a solar battery. Having a battery system to store your excess solar energy could help you save on bills, but you will still need to pay for the electricity you draw from the grid and also the daily supply charge for your connection to the network.
Solar battery tech starts small
Some types of solar batteries are already used in many homes on a small scale – for example in solar fairy lights or lanterns. These usually come with one mini solar panel. This panel stores sunlight in an internal battery throughout the day, then the fairy lights or lanterns draw on this energy supply to light up when the sun goes down. If you can position the charging panel in a sunny spot inside, you could use solar battery technology in this way to add a glow to your home without needing to switch on a lamp.
Solar batteries for WA homes and businesses
Larger-scale solar batteries to help power individual homes and businesses are not used widely across WA yet but there are signs these will become more popular. As the technology becomes even more streamlined, it’s expected that home solar batteries will become more affordable and a growing number of solar-savvy homes and businesses will invest in them.
Then there’s the really large, community-scale batteries such as PowerBank here in WA.
The Australian-first trial has allowed us to work with a range of energy partners to explore how a utility-scale solar battery could be used in an already-established major metropolitan network.
WA is one of the sunniest places in the world with a high uptake of solar systems in the past decade. With all this sunshine available to use, it’s likely that solar batteries will grow in popularity as the technology advances and prices become more affordable.