So, you’re getting a solar battery. You’ve done a ton of research online, made a few calls and chosen a qualified and accredited electrician to install your system. But you’re still confused by the details around solar batteries and want to know more.
Here are six questions you should ask your installer to ensure you’re in the know about your new solar battery system.
Like solar panels, solar batteries require a specific environment to function safely and efficiently. Lithium batteries are typically wall-mounted in a place that will help to control their temperature, most often a utility room like a garage. Lead-acid batteries tend to be physically larger and can be stored in a utility room or outside as they vent hydrogen when charged.
Battery sizes range, so not every home will be able to support every type of solar battery. For example, an apartment or a house without a yard may require a smaller system. An accredited installer can provide advice on whether your home is suitable.
Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between a kilowatt and a kilowatt hour. A kilowatt hour (kWh) refers to the amount of energy your battery can store, in other words, its energy capacity. A kilowatt, on the other hand, is simply a measure of the power output of a battery.
You can get a pretty good idea of how many kWh your battery needs by looking at your last electricity bill. Consider how many kWh you have used over the past four quarters and divide that number by 365. This will give you your daily usage rate.
Some battery companies will express their capacity in ampere hours (Ah), if that is the case, speak to your installer for help to convert it to kilowatt hours.
You have the right to ask questions about your contract before you sign on the dotted line. Ask your installer to explain your contract to you, including any additional fees and how you will receive potential government rebates. You can also ask if there is will be a financial benefit to paying for your new system upfront. If not, consider the term of lease, ensuring that it is no longer than the expected life of the product.
Do you need your battery to work in a blackout? If so, discuss your options with your installer as you will require an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) battery system, which are typically larger and more expensive.
Not all solar batteries provide backup power. Some will work during a blackout, and some won’t. . If you need your solar battery to operate during a blackout, make sure you chat to your system designer and choose the right one.
Before you choose an electrician, make sure they are accredited with battery storage endorsement by the Clean Energy Council. There are around 3,000 solar battery installers across Australia who are certified and trained to install your system to industry and Australian best practice standards. Visit the Clean Energy Council website to find an installer near you.
If you’re considering installing a battery, chances are you care about your impact on the environment, so it’s worthwhile asking your system installer if they have a battery recycling program that deals with handling, collection, storage, transport and processing.
Batteries are currently made with a mix of materials that can make them difficult to recycle. Lithium-ion batteries can have more cycles in their lifetime and tend to have a longer life-span, while almost 100% of lead-acid battery materials can (and should, for safety reasons) be recycled.
Armed with these questions, you can choose from accredited installers to talk to about your solar battery through the Clean Energy Council. Visit the solar accreditation website to find your local installer.