What if you could store energy from solar panels on your home to use any time you wanted, even when the sun isn’t shining? What if you could start relying less and less on the power company to keep your energy needs met?
Home energy storage is becoming more and more popular as people look for ways to cut their energy costs and become more self-sufficient.
Indeed, solar panels that capture energy from the sun play an outsized role in such an endeavour.
But what is often overlooked is the component that allows you to store this energy to use when you need it most. Or to profit from it by feeding your stored energy back to the grid for others to use.
That component is the battery.
What is home energy storage?
Home energy storage is the use of batteries to store electricity so you can use it later.
We’ll be discussing home storage units mainly in the context of solar power, which allows you to generate and store your own energy from the sun. In doing so, you can still stay connected to the grid and purchase electricity when your supply gets low, but your reliance on the grid will lessen.
You can also use batteries even if you don’t have solar panels. The cost-effectiveness of such an enterprise is debatable but theoretically, you can save money by capturing energy from the grid (as opposed to the sun) during off-peakhours and then storing it to use during the typically more expensive peak hours.
Why is home energy storage so important?
There are several benefits to storing your own energy. These include helping you:
- Save money. Not only will you save on electricity bills by generating your own energy, but you can even sell your stored surplus back to the grid to save even more on future electric bills.
- Reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re storing solar energy, you’re naturally reducing your reliance on fossil fuels.
- Increase your energy security. You can use your stored energy whenever you need it most, such as during a blackout. This means no more rickety, noisy, petrol-powered generators (unless you want to go completely off-grid and have backups for your backups).
What does a home energy storage unit look like?
A home energy storage unit typically has five components that work together to capture, store and control energy. These are the solar panels, charge controller, battery, inverter and service box.
Let’s look at each of these in detail:
- Solar panels. These capture energy from the sun and convert that energy into electricity through a process called the photovoltaic effect. Most systems consist of individual panels that are connected to form an array.
- Charge controller. This device regulates the charging process and ensures that the battery does not overcharge.
- Battery. The energy created by the panels comes in the form of direct-current (DC) electricity. Your batteries store this DC power for later use.
- Inverter. Most household appliances use alternating current (AC) power instead of DC power. The inverter converts the DC power created by the panels — or stored in the battery — into AC power so you can use it in your home.
- Service box. Also called a fuse box or breaker box, this has your breakers in it in case you have an electrical short.
Do you actually need a battery?
A battery isn’t required to take advantage of solar power, but it is required to store that power to use later.
As it relates to solar power, battery technology (and by extension, home energy storage) is a relatively new development.
Solar batteries use lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology, the same you’d find in your iPhone but much larger.
Currently, an average Li-ion battery for a home unit would cost about just as much as the solar panels, and while both will save you money in the long run, the panels would probably provide a better return on investment.
At least for now.
Battery technology is only going to improve while costs continue to drop, just like it did with panels. The cost of home solar has dropped significantly over the last several years, down 85% since 2011, according to a recent report by REN21.
Remember, Tesla’s home battery unit, the Powerwall, was only just released in April 2015.
We can expect to see the cost of these types of batteries follow a similar downward trajectory as the panels.
The future of home energy storage
We believe battery technology is the most exciting aspect of solar power and home energy storage. At Magnis, we’ve invested in technology that promises to transform Li-ion technology.
Beginning this year, our subsidiary Imperium3 New York (iM3NY) will be producing Li-ion batteries using patented technology developed by our technology partner C4V and exclusive to iM3NY in the US.
These batteries have enhanced safety, faster charging, longer-lasting and greener than the typical commercial batteries used in the energy storage market.
We know home energy storage is the future of residential power consumption, and we’re excited to be playing a major role in driving its adoption.
The future of home energy storage is bright. With talk of renewable energies like solar power becoming more mainstream, the idea that we can produce our own electricity with home energy storage is quickly evolving from something out-of-reach to an attainable reality.
And as home energy storage becomes cheaper and easier to install, homeowners are increasingly considering this sustainable option for powering their homes.
It’s worth considering if you want to mitigate your reliance on the grid while also saving money on your monthly utility bills.