Solar Batteries & Storage

Hybrid & Off-Grid Solar Systems in Toowoomba

Nigel Phillips and Blake standing in front of Electrical Sensations ute in Toowoomba

Solar Batteries & Storage

Battery storage has been used for decades with stand-alone and off-grid power systems. It is set to grow exponentially in popularity for grid-connected solar systems as well.

For commercial premises, batteries are an effective means of not only reducing total electricity consumption but also for ‘peak shaving’. The electricity tariffs for large commercial customers often have extremely high demand charges where spikes in electricity usage increase the electricity cost for the entire billing period. 

There are two types of solar power systems that use batteries: Off-grid/standalone and hybrid solar systems.

Off-Grid Solar Systems

What is an ‘off-grid’ system?

If you are in a remote area or where the cost of having power connected to your property is exorbitant, off-grid (stand-alone) solar power systems with batteries and generator backup are the solution. 

Off-grid solar power systems supply electricity to properties that are not connected to the electricity network/grid. These systems are also referred to as “Remote Area Power Systems” (RAPS) or “Stand-Alone Power Systems” (SAPS).

Essentially off-grid solar power systems are independent mini-power stations that create dependable and reliable electricity that is no different to that supplied by the national electricity grid. Whether it is for a small or large home, farm or weekender; an off-grid solar power system will generate reliable, clean and hassle-free electricity.

Reliability is paramount in off-grid solar power systems!

Installing inferior components or under-sizing a system can have disastrous consequences for off-grid systems. Choosing quality components is important in all solar power system systems, but it is absolutely critical in off-grid systems.
Nigel Phillips and Blake standing in front of Electrical Sensations ute in Toowoomba

Components of an off-grid system

  1. Solar panels – the panels absorb sunlight and convert it to direct current (DC) electricity.
  2. Inverters – Off-grid systems require two inverters: a battery inverter (eg Selectronic) and a solar inverter (eg Fronius).
  3. Battery – Stores energy for use when solar power is not producing, such as at night time or inclement weather.
  4. Generator – emergency back-up power supply

Batteries Are Not New!

They have been used for decades in offgrid solar power systems. What is relatively new, is the use of batteries with gridconnected solar power systems, to create what is known as a“Hybrid solar power system”.

Hybrid meaning solar and batteries. In hybrid systems, batteries are used to store energy for use at night time, during periods of peak load or unusually high usage and inclement weather. 

Batteries can significantly reduce the reliance on the electricity grid and minimize that amount of electricity purchased from the electricity retailer (e.g: Ergon, Origin, AGL etc…).

We typically advise homeowners in builtup and residential areas, to remain connected to the grid as their ’emergency’ power supply even with batteries installed. The alternative to staying connected to the grid is to use a generator as the emergency power supply which may not be conducive to good neighbourly relationships.

Did you know that not all batteries can supply power in a blackout? If that is something that is important to you, make sure you mention it to your designer so provisions can be made and the appropriate products recommended.

Sizing and pricing battery systems for both hybrid and offgrid solar power systems are quite complex and there is certainly no one-size-fits-all solution. Batteries are expensive, and designing battery systems is a fine art of making sure they are large enough to do the job, but not too large to keep costs to a reasonable level.

Call our office on 07 46372744 to find out more about batteries and hybrid solar power systems.

Types of Batteries

There are many batteries suitable for both residential and commercial applications including LG, Sonnen and Redback, depending on the size required.

Batteries can generally be added to an existing solar power system, the amount of work required and cost involved depending upon the equipment currently installed.

There are many different types of batteries. Two of the most common and well known are the traditional Lead Acid and the newer technology Lithium-Ion batteries.

Lead Acid batteries are traditionally used for off-grid solar power systems as they are more cost-effective than Lithium-Ion batteries. The trade-off is that they are generally big and heavy and take up a significant amount of space. Wet cell Lead Acid batteries require stringent regular maintenance which can be onerous. Lead Acid batteries are considered to be safer than Lithium-Ion.

Lithium-Ion batteries are rapidly gaining popularity as they have a great advantage of being much lighter and smaller in comparison to Lead Acid batteries. The trade-off is in the pricing where Lithium-Ion is more expensive.