Solar Batteries: Are They Worth It?

There is a lot of discussion this year around the benefits of installing a battery device to household solar panel systems. In essence they are a great idea, storing energy to save the environment as well as household costs and excess electricity. But is the investment worthwhile at this point in time, when the system is still in its infancy?

Let’s explore.

Experts predicted that the number of solar battery systems installed in 2017 would triple that of previous years and will continue to increase in the future. This is because of the rising costs of electricity to homes in Australia, as well as the security and reliability of having power in times of need (like when state-wide systems shut down). Home owners are taking every opportunity to save money and power and so they should. It is an investment in the home, money and the future that will definitely be worthwhile, in time.

Solar panels are a long-term investment; it takes a few years before home owners have earned back in savings what the initial cost was and this will be the same for the battery systems they have installed. When installing a new system with a battery, at approximately $20,000, it can take three years or more to see even the smallest of return. But it is worth it.

Currently, the storage price for energy in battery systems is $750-$800 per kilowatt hour, yet it needs to be around $200-$300 per kilowatt hour to see any benefit for the homeowner and we are a long way from that happening.

For now, experts are simply trying to figure out if the battery systems (and their warranties) will last long enough for home owners to see a significant return on investment, particularly as to whether or not the system will have paid for itself by then.

After exploring the benefits around the country, it appears that Perth has the best payback time for the installation of a new solar system with a battery. Using electricity and installations prices as criteria, it would take approximately 7.6 years to have the system pay for itself.

In particular, for those living in South Australia (SA) the payback time is 8.4 years; not the worst but considering the significantly high energy prices they are currently facing, a new system installation would definitely be worth it. Warrick Johnson, of Sunwiz, warns, that for those home owners in SA who already have solar systems and are considering adding a battery system, the battery warranty may expire before you see significant returns. The benefits are mostly on new installations in that state.

For the most benefit, it seems that that the battery installations are going to provide a return on investment if they are a new installation with solar panels, rather than as an addition to an existing solar panel system. If it is about the money, then this needs to be weighed up.

However, for those people who want peace of mind when electricity prices rise, or when the statewide electricity system fails (as it often does during heat waves), installing a battery-solar system (or adding a battery to your existing one) can certainly help. Knowing that you can store your own energy to have when the grid shuts down is worthwhile, being independent of the government’s restrictions on when you can have access to power.

If you are considering a battery solar system, do your research and costings. Be diligent, and decide if the investment is worth the peace of mind.

For many, it will be. But if you are looking to save money then the upfront costs that you outlay may not be returned to you as quickly as you would like. It all depends on what is most important to your family.

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