How do batteries work with solar?

Battery banks like these can provide emergency power during grid outages and reduce peak demand charges for businesses.

Most solar arrays don’t yet have batteries yet. The majority of residential solar arrays in the United States remain grid-tied, meaning they’re connected to the utility electric grid. As a result, grid tied solar homes can consume utility power in moments when their panels aren’t producing electricity. Grid-tied solar arrays are significantly less expensive than arrays with batteries. They are also more efficient overall because all of the solar electricity produced goes to powering the home. Batteries lose a small amount of their electrical charge as the current moves through them, making battery-equipped solar systems slightly less efficient that standalone solar. Batteries likely do not make economic sense if you have stable utility electric service. In those cases, the electric grid acts as your battery, providing power when your panels aren’t producing electricity. Batteries also take up room in your home, can require maintenance, and will likely need to be replaced at least once during the life of your solar array.

If you do want to run power to some -or all- of your home when the utility grid is down, you will need battery back-up (also known as storage). When paired with solar, battery storage systems can charge from the sun and power your home or business when utility service is interrupted.  For more information on these systems, visit our Solar+Storage page.

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