How Long Can a Solar Battery Power a House?
It’s no secret that we must transition to renewable energy as soon as possible. By 2030, more than 13% of homes in the US will use solar power. However, getting ahead of the curve comes with its perks!
Unfortunately, solar panels don’t do too much without some energy storage. That’s why batteries have become the talk of the time for off-grid livers and retirees.
So, how long can a solar battery power a house, and are they worth it for my energy needs? Let’s talk about that!
Before we jump into our solar power guide, let’s talk about some key benefits of switching to solar energy. The sooner we all collectively make the switch, the better.
However, there are some significant advantages to getting ahead of the curve. Here are some of the most prevalent examples!
All across the country, you can receive tax incentives and rebates just for installing and using solar panels and other green energy technology. There’s currently a 26% federal tax rebate on installation costs, but you’ll also have different state incentives throughout the US.
If you want to reach energy independence for off-grid living, retirement security, or safety reasons, there’s nothing better than solar panels with adequate power storage. We all saw the tragedy in Texas in the winter of 2021, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Of course, you will have to buy the system, but as a long-term investment, there’s no limit to how much power you can draw. Once the system is paid off, you won’t have to pay for ongoing energy consumption, and there’s little need for maintenance in the long run!
We must transition to 100% renewable energy by mid-century at the absolute latest, according to the leading authorities on climate change. Yes, this will require institutional change, but the sooner we start this transition ourselves, the better. This will lead to a cleaner environment in your community, less reliance on fossil fuels, and a better future for humanity!
Also, solar panels are noticeable in homes, and they tend to have a “domino effect” in specific neighborhoods. You could be the talk of the area and help convince others in your community to follow suit, which can have a significant impact on your area’s overall health!
One of the best solar power tips we can offer is to add a solar battery to your system. We use most of our electricity when the sun is down, so what’s the point in offsetting your energy when we keep our lights off?
Solar batteries connect to your solar panels and your home’s electrical system. When excess energy comes in through the solar panels that aren’t used in your home, it will be stored in your battery with staggering efficiency.
When your solar panels aren’t drawing energy, your battery system will take its place and power your house. This could be as a supplement to the point you draw from the grid or as a primary energy source, depending on your needs!
If you want a solar battery for home backup, there are options ranging from 3,500 watt-hours (Wh) to 50 kilowatt-hours (kWh). If you buy suitable models, you can compound these systems to work as a single unit.
For home backup, we’d generally recommend using at least 10 kWh. This is enough to keep your refrigerator running and allow you to charge your electronics for up to a week, especially if you have strong enough solar panels. Quality solar panels can still draw some energy during cloudy weather, which would be very beneficial!
You can also buy these over time. Some popular models offer around 4 kWh, and you can use up to six at a time, allowing 24 kWh.
However, for off-grid living, this may not be enough. If you rely entirely on your solar panels and battery, you’ll need all the storage you can get. At the very minimum, we’d suggest a 50kWh capacity.
Before choosing a system, you’ll need to understand your average daily and peak energy consumption. You may see a report on your average consumption just by looking at your bill, but you want more details.
It should be no surprise that your peak energy consumption during each day is most likely at night when the sun is down. It’s essential to know when your peak energy consumption is and how much energy you’re using. Without that information, choosing the right system for your needs is a risk.
Contact your current utility company and ask for a detailed report on your energy usage. Make sure to keep a copy of this report handy when it’s time to shop.
Since this heavily depends on your system and energy consumption, we’ll discuss the averages and give a couple of more specific examples.
The average US household uses around 28.9 kWh of electricity each day. These numbers can vary widely depending on the size of your house, the age of your appliances, and your heating/cooling system. However, let’s stick with this as our average.
Let’s round it up and say you use an even 30 kWh on your highest-consuming day of the week. In that case, you won’t only need to draw 30 kWh a day, but you’ll need to plan it out for when you’ll use it. See, you’ll need to use little enough during the day that you can fully charge your battery, allowing for a whole night of use without input.
In that case, a battery system with 24 kWh capacity could likely last through the night every night that you have enough solar input. For this, you’d need to average at least 3,000 running watts during the winter to power your home year-round continuously.
24 kWh still won’t last for a full day in this case. Yes, solar panels will generate electricity on a cloudy day, but it’s unlikely to be enough. In this case, we’d recommend using at least a 50 kWh battery and limiting your energy consumption during a storm. This could last two days if there is an outage and even longer with limited sunlight.
Now, there are 50 kWh batteries available, and you can compound them. Generally, we’d recommend using two of these for anybody who regularly employs more than the average daily energy. 100 kWh should be enough backup to get through a storm or a series of bad weather, significantly if you conserve energy.
However, you still have to worry about solar interference during bad weather, a weak battery losing capacity, and more. Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate these challenges or prevent them entirely!
Now that you understand some of the challenges with heavy reliance on solar energy and a battery. Of course, if you’re using these systems on the grid, you won’t have to worry too much. However, it’s still great to reduce your energy consumption, reduce your carbon footprint, and save money!
If you’re trying to rely primarily on your solar energy or live off-grid, LED lightbulbs are the most accessible and affordable switch you can make. You have no idea how big of a difference these can make. Switching from 100W incandescent bulbs to 10W LED bulbs will keep your home just as bright for a fraction of the energy costs.
Fortunately, they’ve come a long way. The price of LED lightbulbs has declined over 90% in recent years, and they last more than 5x longer than their incandescent counterparts. This is a no-brainer!
Also, if you think LED lightbulbs are too harsh, think again. Plenty of LED bulbs have the same yellowish tone as incandescent bulbs but with as little as one-tenth of the energy use.
Refrigerators, cooking equipment, washers, dryers, and other appliances are energy guzzlers. You don’t want to decide to wash your clothes or cook dinner if you’re living off the grid.
Of course, switching to energy-efficient appliances is not the easiest on the wallet, especially if you’ve recently purchased your solar setup. However, we all know that machines don’t last forever. If you can’t afford such a significant upgrade right now, do it over time, and you’ll see a big difference in your energy output.
The more energy you receive during the day, the more you’ll have stored at night. Offset your energy consumption as much as possible during the day to allow a surplus to charge your battery by angling your solar panels correctly.
Of course, facing the true south will be the most advantageous if you’re in the northern hemisphere. However, some studies suggest that a slight tilt to the west could yield up to 2% more energy. This could make a world of difference for an off-grid living!
Your heating system is another severe energy consumer, especially if you have electric heat in your home. If you do, it may be time to switch, especially if you intend to rely heavily on your solar system.
For most scenarios, propane heat and wood stoves are widely available, safe to use, and low on emissions. However, anything is better than forced air electric heat for lowering your electricity consumption.
The greenest option would be geothermal heat pumps, but these can still drive up your electric demand. That’s fine if you’re on the grid, but not if you’re relying entirely on your solar battery.
Generally speaking, overall mindfulness of your energy consumption will go a long way to limiting your energy use. Shutting off lights that aren’t in use, lowering the heat, and thinking more about your energy consumption will help you keep it low enough for your system to cover it.
In most cases, it comes down to having enough solar input and storage. If you buy too small of a battery or if you aren’t receiving enough solar energy, then you’ll constantly worry about running out of power. However, you can avoid this by choosing the right system for your needs.
First, we highly recommend using a lithium-ion battery like an LFP (lithium iron phosphate). These last far longer than lead-acid batteries, and some can last for ten years of daily use before dropping 20% from their original capacity. In the long run, these are well worth it!
Next, you have to worry about solar panels. Overall, the best way to find the right system for your needs is to speak with solar experts and find out exactly how much energy you need ahead of time. It could save you money as well as many headaches!
Now that we’ve answered the question “how long can a solar battery power a house?” you can make an informed decision about what’s best for your needs. Solar power is one of the best methods we have to reach energy independence and fight the ongoing climate threat.
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