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Solar Storage: Understanding the Basics

If you are looking to go off-grid, or increase your savings when you are connected to the grid, a solar storage system is necessary. For any form of green energy that can be synthetically released at certain times, like wind and solar, batteries are a necessity.

Most of the time, the grid will use forms of storage such as hydro storage or thermal storage, but for homes, batteries are the best option. 

About Energy Storage

Energy storage is what allows you to store any extra or unused solar power for later use, such as when it is cloudy or dark. These storage systems are usually batteries that are connected to your solar energy system. 

How To Store Solar Energy

Most of the time, solar energy is stored in a solar battery. Technically, there are other methods like hydro pumps, salt storage, and thermal energy storage, but these are more useful for industrial purposes, as they take up a lot of space and are costly. 

solar panel with battery

The two main types of solar batteries are lead-acid and lithium-ion. Lithium-ion batteries tend to last longer, need less management and maintenance, and they take up less space. However, they are quite expensive. 

Why Should You Combine Storage and Solar?

If you are completely off-grid, combining a storage system with your solar is a great way to make sure you get power and can access your utilities at any point in the day, no matter the weather or times, or if the sun is present or not. 

However, if you are connected to the grid, you can still benefit from using a battery system with your photovoltaic panel or solar system. This can help you to decrease power during peak times.

Since peak times are usually when the load is highest and tends to be in the evening when the sun is already starting to go down, you can use electricity from your batteries instead of using net metering. 

Additionally, there can be a time when your grid experiences power outages. During this time, you can use your inverter and battery to get power still, without the need for a generator. 

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Types of Energy Storage

For any type of green energy, that we rely fully on nature to produce, there has to be a charger system. This includes a solar cell or a wind turbine. This is because the power from these systems, while not unpredictable, isn’t able to be controlled and we can’t produce more power during peak times as needed. 

This is true for both residential green energy and big green energy systems for grid or industrial systems. 

Electrochemical Storage

Electrochemical storage is where the energy from the PV panels is stored in a device. Usually, this device is a sort of battery. The battery will hold the power until more electricity is needed, and then distribute the power that is required until the battery or device runs low. 

Battery Storage

Batteries are the most common form of residential energy storage. They are a form of electrochemical storage. Though lithium-ion and lead-acid are the most common, sodium is another one that is often used. 

VMAX solar battery

They are space efficient and can be stored together easily to create a big system. Estimates state that a system the size of a refrigerator has enough power to run a home for several days. 

Thermal Energy Storage

Solar thermal energy storage is the storage and release of taking solar energy and storing it in something that can contain temperatures well, such as molten salt. They can be used to heat swimming pools or air most commonly. 

Thermal Storage

Thermal storage relies on the heating and cooling of materials to release stored energy. Salt is a common material. The salt is turned molten, and then it releases heat when there is no sun. Ice storage can reduce the need and demand for compressors. 

Mechanical Storage

Flywheel Storage

Flywheels rely on spinning motors. They can absorb and release a lot of power, but usually can only release power for about fifteen minutes, though there is research being done to improve these times. 

Compressed Air Storage

Electricity is used to compress air up to 1,000 pounds per square inch. Usually, this energy is stored underground. Then, when electricity demand increases, the air is released to generate electricity. 

Pumped-Storage Hydropower

When it comes to the grid, pumped-storage hydropower is the most common form of energy storage. These are usually dams that store power via reservoirs. Water is stored when energy isn’t needed, but released during peak hours. 

Solar Fuels

Solar fuels are a way of storing energy to try and replace gasses and oils for cars. They use a mix of light, water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen to produce fuels that can be used in our vehicles already made. 

They are sustainable and have no net carbon dioxide emissions. 

Virtual Storage

Virtual storage, as strange as it sounds, is becoming more and more possible. It is simply the method of ownership of a part of a group solar system. They can have independent control of solar power and reduce their needs on the grid, even when renting or when their home isn’t practical for solar panels. 

Home Solar Energy Storage

Home solar energy storage is either done through batteries or not at all. You can choose to send all of your excess power back to the grid for a discount, or you can choose to purchase batteries to store some power in case of an emergency. 

FAQ

What are the costs of solar storage?

Most storage systems have a huge range. Depending on the amount of power you want to save, you can expect to spend anywhere between $300 and $15,000, just for the solar systems alone. For high-quality ones, you can expect a minimum of $5,000 for the battery and all installation costs. 

What are the efficiency levels of solar storage?

Lithium-ion batteries tend to have an efficiency of between 90% and 95%. Meanwhile, lead acid batteries are usually only 50% effective. 

What is the best way to store solar energy?

For the home, lithium-ion batteries are considered the best way to store energy.