Not all Energy Storage is Battery Backup
One of the most common solar storage options is battery backup. However, not every solar storage option is battery backup. There are lots of different storage options used for different things.
Determining which type of solar storage is best depends on the size of the project and the readily available storage options. Let’s take a look at some of these storage types and what makes each of them unique.
Energy Storage Device Options
Energy storage is any device that can store energy for later. There are several different reasons for using energy storage.
It can be used to power the grid when regular electricity generation isn’t enough. Energy storage can also be used to help increase power continuity for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
In homes, energy storage is usually used to decrease the impact of outages on the homeowner.
Thermal storage systems use heating and cooling methods to store energy for on-demand use. There are several different thermal storage options on the market right now.
Two of these systems include molten salt and active solar heating systems. Molten salt uses concentrated solar power (CSP) to heat salt, which is then stored for later to provide mass electricity through a steam turbine. Solar heating systems heat a liquid or air that is then used to heat a house or stored for later.
Mechanical Storage Systems
Mechanical systems use machines to provide kinetic energy for on-demand electric needs. Two types of mechanical energy-storage commonly used include flywheels and pumped hydropower.
Flywheels store energy in a spinning rotor and can provide up to 15 minutes of immediate electricity until other backup options can come online. For pumped hydropower, a reservoir of water is let through a turbine to provide power when needed. This storage type is one of the most common energy storage options for large scale storage.
Several different battery storage options are also on the market. Some of these include lithium-ion, flow, lead-acid, sodium, and salt-water batteries.
Why Residential Solar Requires Energy Storage
There are a couple of reasons why solar requires an energy storage option. The first reason is that solar is undependable without it. Because of the way solar arrays work, arrays are dependant on the weather.
Meteorologists can predict the weather, but they can’t control it. The possibility of clear sunny skies every day of the year is low, and honestly, if this did happen, it would cause problems.
The second reason is that solar can’t provide power during an outage without storage. Grid-tied solar, which is the most common, requires solar to have automatic disconnect switches so the array can be turned off during an outage.
The Best Storage Type for Residential Solar
While each of these storage types has its place, they aren’t all a good fit for residential solar. Residential solar requires a storage system that can store energy without requiring a lot of space or overly expensive equipment.
One competitor for residential solar storage is thermal storage. If solar panels aren’t taking up all the available space on the roof, heating systems are a great storage option.
Most storage options require a lot of space, which is why battery storage has been the go-to option for residential solar. There are several different battery storage options.
The Best Batteries for Solar Power
The best battery backup options meet the energy needs of the customer without taking up an extravagant amount of space. They also have short charge times and long discharges.
Lithium-ion batteries are the battery backup option of choice for residential solar because they meet most of these expectations. However, lead-acid batteries also have merits that make them a close second for residential solar storage.
Pros and Cons of Lead-acid Battery Backup
Lead-acid batteries have several things going for them. These batteries don’t require maintenance, they can withstand different charging rates, they can withstand long-term inactivity, they have a long life cycle, and these batteries can withstand varying weather conditions.
While all of these are great things to consider, these batteries do have a few drawbacks. These batteries are heavy, they have longer charge times, and deep cycling can decrease their life.
Lithium-ion Battery Backup
While lead-acid batteries are cheaper, lithium-ion batteries have benefits that outway the costs. These benefits include their weight to power ratio, their high-energy density, self-discharging at a lower rate, and there is no need to prime the batteries before the first use.
Go Solar Group offers several battery backup options for its customers. Most of these options are lithium-ion batteries. However, there is a lead-acid battery extension option, the Goal Zero Tanks, for Go Solar Group’s level two battery backup.