Solar panels are one of the best tools we have to combat climate change and gain some freedom from utility companies, but they do have one fatal flaw: they don’t produce electricity when the sun isn’t shining.
That’s where solar energy storage comes in. Pairing a solar panel system with energy storage makes it possible to use solar energy, even when there is no sun, by saving electricity for later use. Not only is solar storage great for the environment, but it also unlocks several benefits for homeowners, like access to reliable backup power and, in some cases, additional electric bill savings.
Most homeowners choose to store their solar energy by using a solar battery. Technically, you can store solar energy through mechanical or thermal energy storage, like pumped hydro storage systems or molten salt energy storage technologies, but these storage options require a lot of space, materials, and moving parts. Overall, they are not the most practical ways to store energy for a home.
Solar batteries, on the other hand, are a great way to store residential solar energy. The most common type of battery used for solar energy storage is lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries last longer, require less maintenance, and take up less space than other solar energy storage solutions on the market, such as lead–acid batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries can store solar energy through a series of chemical reactions wherein lithium ions are moved through an electrolyte solution within the battery. As a result, when solar panels send electricity to the battery storage system, a chemical reaction occurs that moves lithium ions and releases electrons into an electrolyte solution within the battery, which stores the energy.
When you need to use electricity from the battery, the electrons flow backward and the electricity is discharged. This process can be repeated over and over again, making the battery rechargeable.
Solar energy storage systems are becoming more popular every year, and it’s no surprise why—they are a reliable source of backup power. Despite what many people believe, solar panels will not power your home during a power outage. To keep your lights on when the grid goes down, you need to pair your solar system with a solar battery. This is why energy storage is most popular in places like California, where widespread blackouts are commonplace.
As a bonus, solar batteries are a much quieter backup power option than gas-guzzling generators. Plus, you don’t have to worry about refueling a battery; you just let your solar panels do their thing, and the energy is ready for you to use!