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How Do Solar Batteries Work?

Interest in solar battery storage has hit new heights, so now is as good a time as any to learn how it and the humble solar battery work.

Understanding how solar battery storage integrates with a solar panel system and the rest of your business or home will also help you decide if it’s right for you.

Whether you’re interested in solar batteries in Ipswich or solar batteries in Logan, read on. We’ll give you the lowdown on solar batteries and examine the inner workings of their work.

The Basics About Solar Panels and Solar Batteries

The key purpose of a solar battery is to store energy that you can use later. If you already have a home solar panel system, here are a few general facts about solar battery storage:

  • Your solar panels make electricity from the sun
  • Direct current (DC) electricity gets turned into alternating current (AC)
  • An inverter turns the electricity from DC to AC
  • The AC electricity powers your home
  • Any surplus electricity you don’t use charges your batteries
  • When there’s no sunlight, your solar batteries can power your home

How Batteries Interact with Solar Panels

The solar panels you install may produce more electricity than you actually need. You may be able to return that excess electricity to the grid, or you may need to extract electricity from the grid when you need more power than your panels produce.

With solar batteries, you can use the power stored instead of either directing excess electricity to the grid or drawing any extra electricity you need from the grid. You’ll also have electricity on tap when it’s cloudy or once the sun has gone down.

In a sense, solar battery storage is your own personal “mini-grid” from which you can export or draw electricity.

The Benefits of Solar Battery Storage

Your solar battery provides backup power when you need it. Although you may still have access to the grid, you can continue to run your home or business as if you were “off-grid.” That means, should there be an outage due to extreme weather conditions, for instance, you’ll still be able to continue as normal.

If you only have a solar panel system without a solar battery, you will not have access to extra electricity should there be an outage, even on sunny days. Your solar panel system will also typically shut down during a power outage. This is so that it doesn’t export electricity onto transmission lines when there is a more general issue that needs fixing.

Stacking Batteries

It’s worth bearing in mind that most solar batteries will only provide backup power for part of your home. If you don’t have a smart electrical panel, you’ll need to choose which parts of your home you want to back up with your battery.

You can also “stack” many kinds of batteries. This means you can continue adding extra batteries until you reach your desired storage capacity. Bear in mind that it may be too costly to buy enough batteries to power your entire home.

Because you’ll be able to pull power from your batteries rather than from the grid, you’ll likely make savings on your utility bills. For example, you may be able to use your batteries at times of the day when your utility company charges more for electricity.

How Batteries Store Energy

The usual kind of battery available for home solar energy storage is a lithium-ion battery. Lithium-ion batteries power typical devices and vehicles, from smartphones to cars.

These batteries get their name from the process going on inside the battery. The components of the battery are:

  • An anode and cathode
  • A separator
  • An electrolyte
  • Two current collectors, one positive and one negative

The anode and cathode are where the lithium gets stored. The electrolyte moves positively charged lithium ions to and from the cathode and anode through the separator.

The Creation of Electrons

The motion of the lithium ions produces free electrons in the anode. This generates a charge at the positive current collector. Electric current then flows from the current collector through a device getting powered, such as a laptop or smartphone, to the negative current collector. The separator stops the flow of electrons inside the battery.

When the solar battery discharges and produces electricity, lithium ions get released from the anode to the cathode. This leads to a flow of electrons from one side to the other. When you plug in a device, the opposite happens, meaning that lithium ions get released by the cathode and received by the anode.

Common Battery Concepts

The two most common measurements associated with batteries are energy density and power density. We measure energy density in watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg), which refers to the quantity of energy that the battery can store in relation to its mass.

We measure power density in watts per kilogram (W/kg). This refers to the quantity of power that a battery can generate in relation to its mass. To help understand this concept, imagine draining a swimming pool. Energy density would be similar to the pool’s size, while power density would be a little like draining the pool as fast as possible.

Other Types of Batteries

The Lithium-ion batteries you’ll find in home solar battery storage systems combine multiple lithium-ion battery cells with advanced electronics. These take care of the performance and safety of the entire battery system.

The various kinds of lithium-ion batteries may have slightly different configurations for improved power density or longer lifetimes. Lithium-ion batteries aren’t the only kind used in energy storage applications for the home. Others may use similar mechanisms and have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Solar Battery Storage Solutions

Charged Energy is your one-stop shop for solar batteries in Ipswich and solar batteries in Logan. Get a free quote today from the solar energy experts. Contact us for a greener, more sustainable tomorrow.

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