Solar Power Battery Storage

Solar Power Battery Storage can be utilised for different purposes.  Grid connected systems with solar storage, off-grid systems and of course hybrid systems ( which are a mix between grid connect and off grid).

If you are aiming to be 100% energy independent and disconnected from the grid, you will need to go for an off-grid system.

Grid Connected Systems with Solar Storage

Many New Zealanders are opting for a grid-connected system, coupled with a battery storage system. This is to increase the user’s self-consumption. Battery banks charge during the day, depleting at night when your solar panels aren’t generating any solar power.

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Short Video: How A Grid Connected System with Solar Storage Works

How does a Grid Connected Systems with Solar Storage work?

The power produced by the solar panels will be fed straight to the household/business electrical demands.  Any excess power will charge the battery.  The solar power will only be fed out to the utility grid once appliance demands have been met, and the batteries are at full capacity.

Why Would You Install Solar Storage?

For most customers, the motivation to install expensive batteries is because of the low buyback rates they get for exporting solar power to the grid.  It makes sense to use as much of your solar power as possible rather than exporting solar power. 

To make sure you use more of your own solar power rather than exporting it to the grid, you can look at installing appliance controllers. You can also change some of your power consumption patterns (i.e. trying to use your appliances when the sun is out).  If there is still too much solar power exported to the grid, batteries are the answer.

Indepth Video: How A Grid Connected System with Solar Storage Works

Retrofitting Solar Storage Batteries

Existing grid connected solar power systems can be retrofitted to include battery storage.

If you are thinking about adding batteries to a grid connected system in the future, it is advised that you mention this to your solar power installer. This is to make sure that the components you choose for the grid connected set up are compatible with battery backup’s at future dates.

Enphase has confirmed that you will be able to add their 'soon to be released' AC battery units at any time after installing a grid connect system with their micro-inverters. You will need to have Enphases upgraded version of the envoy (a communication system), with an upgrading cost of around $200.

Battery storage technology is getting cheaper by the year so it may be best to install a grid connected system now, and incorporate batteries at a later date.

Hybrid Systems (also known as Battery Backup Systems)

Should your home or business ever experience a power failure, then connecting a battery storage to your solar power system is a worthwhile investment.  A Hybrid System combines the best of grid connect living with off grid solar power.  The system functions as a grid connected system day to day, but should the grid ever go down the system will automatically switch over to off-grid mode.

Hybrid systems are useful for avoiding black outs, running medical equipment and living in areas that are prone to line failures. If you live or work in an area prone to natural disasters, then the reasons for having a battery storage back up system far outweighs the reasons not to. 

To be compliant in the event of a black out, a grid connected solar power system must automatically switch off.  This is a safety measure; if the solar power was being exported to the grid it could harm a person repairing the lines.  The Hybrid Systems allows you to keep your solar power system up and running during a black out.

To get a hybrid system installed, the solar installer company will ask you several questions: If the grid went down, how long would you like to use battery power for?  A couple of hours?  A couple of days?  The solar installer will also ask what appliances you would like to be using when the grid is down, this helps determine how many batteries you will need.  As well as batteries, extra components-these types of systems can get expensive, expect to pay at least another $8,000 on top of the grid connect system cost.

Technology Uptake

Battery storage systems for PV are slowly gaining popularity in New Zealand, but they are not common. Batteries are expensive, and the extra components are costly. However, if you can afford the up front costs, it is a worthwhile investment. 

The Tesla Powerwall and the Enphase AC battery are now available in New Zealand.  Click here to see view other battery storage systems available in New Zealand.