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Top 5 things to know about home storage batteries

One of the top home storage battery brands is LG Chem

Home storage batteries represent the next evolution of home renewable energy. Homeowners can amplify the benefits of solar power by storing the energy they’ve produced to be used at their choosing.  This is a new technology and it will continue to develop and evolve at a breakneck pace.  New abilities and features will emerge with new product offerings but there are several fundamental use cases and situations which will certainly resonate with many homeowners even at this early stage   

1: Solar Battery basics

Home storage batteries are quite simple at first glance.  Like any rechargeable battery in a smartphone or electric vehicle it charges up and stores energy to be used later.  They are mostly low profile, a Tesla Powerwall 2 is 45.3 in x 29.6 in x 5.75 in and are designed to primarily sit against a wall or even mounted on a wall of a garage or exterior. They make little noise if any. Every manufacturer and model will likely differ and its attributes will depend ultimately on its energy capacity as well.

The capacity of home storage is measured in Kilowatt hours (kWh), a unit of energy.  It equals the amount of energy you would use if you kept a 1,000 watt appliance running for one hour.  So for a 100 watt light, it would take 10 hours to use 1 kWh. A 2,000 watt appliance would use a kWh in just half an hour.  

Each model of battery will also vary in its capacity, a Tesla Powerwall 2 has 13.5 kWh, LG Chem sells a battery with 9.8 kWh and is soon releasing a battery with 16 kWh.  

To put that into perspective, an iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 3,687 mWh which based on its voltage is 1.4% of a kWh.  

They are often mentioned in the same conversation as home solar energy because they help homeowners with solar panels solve one of the age old problems with collecting solar energy, you can only collect solar energy during daylight hours. This allows them to extend the benefits of the energy they’ve collected long after sunset.  It also allows them to use solar even during blackouts.

2: Smart Features

Like just about everything in 2021, just about every home storage battery on the market is enabled with smart features.  Conveniently from an app on your phone or tablet you can dictate when and how much power is stored and used.  You can also prioritize whether your solar power will be used to charge the battery or go back into the grid through net metering.  These changes can be made on the fly although charging the battery will take time.  

3: They help with emergency preparedness

Solar technology was invented and developed first as a way to generate electricity independent of a power grid.  Much of solar technology’s early development was by NASA in order to power satellites and spacecraft.  As such, solar panels are an excellent option to generate power in remote areas.

Much of the driving force behind the solar industry today is not as an off grid power solution, but as a means for a home to effectively create its own clean energy.  When you drive through a neighborhood and see panels on people’s roofs, they are almost definitely still tied to the power grid as much as any other home.  This allows the homeowner to use both their solar power and power from the grid interchangeably.  

When a blackout occurs for any reason, even those with solar arrays must go without power until it is restored by the utility company.  This acts as a safety measure for those working on the power lines trying to fix any problems.  Solar alone, in this case, is not an emergency preparedness plan in the event of a blackout.  

This changes when a home storage battery is implemented.  You can use power from your batteries to power a lot of your home.  You may not be able to run the dryer and the air conditioner at the same time depending on your battery but it can certainly stand in place of many whole house generators, and it will continue to charge from the solar panels during the day, in theory giving you an unlimited supply of energy.  You can even use the aforementioned smart features to anticipate inclement weather and save more of your energy or even gather energy from the grid to ensure it will be fully charged when the storm clouds arrive.   

There are many options out there as far as blackout protection, from natural gas whole house generators to the trusty old gas generator that you wheel out of the garage.  As always is the case with emergency preparedness, give careful consideration to what would work best for your situation.  

4: They allow for tier saving, avoid using grid power during peak times

Although home storage batteries and solar power complement each other very well, solar power is not required to have a battery.  There is one cost saving benefit worth considering is the ability to circumvent peak electricity pricing.  

Peak pricing is a practice implemented by some power utilities in which the rate they charge per kW of power depends on the time of day it was used.  For instance, they may charge a higher rate in the afternoon when, during the summer, air conditioners are working the hardest to combat the hottest part of the day. This is meant to curb usage at times where there is very high demand.  Some utilities will even offer a credit for customers who significantly lower their usage during peak hours.  

With a home storage battery, you could lower your power usage from the grid to 0 whenever you want.  You can charge the battery either with solar power or from the grid at a non peak time and then use it whenever you choose.  Granted, unless a company’s peak pricing is egregiously high, this may not be a sufficient reason to invest in a battery, but it does reveal one of many use cases in which the ability to store a lot of power for later could hold.  Think about your unique situation, perhaps there are enough situations where that would come in handy to make the investment practical.     

5: You may not need a battery at all!

What does the future hold for home storage batteries? Sky’s the limit right now, innovations within the space are progressing at a breakneck pace.  Batteries are getting bigger, smarter and sleeker with every new generation. 

But what if the future of home storage batteries involves no battery at all?  With many major auto manufacturers ramping up their production of electric vehicles, each year, thousands of Americans will purchase massive batteries and park them in their garages. 

No EV’s currently being sold can act as home storage power sources however both the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning and the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 are anticipated to have that feature.  Several industry publications have also indicated this will become increasingly popular in EV’s in the future.  In the event of a blackout, the energy stored in your EV could keep your home functioning.  

There still may be reasons to purchase a home battery in addition to an EV.  Every kWh you use from your vehicle can hurt your range which you cannot charge back up until the power is restored.  Many homeowners also purchase a home storage battery specifically for their EV, charging up their solar power then plugging in their vehicle when they park after their workday.  

For specific situations, in the not so distant future, you may be able to use your EV as a lifeline against a blackout.

Home storage batteries are the next evolution in creating a sustainably independent home.  A home that can intelligently hold onto the storage it has generated until the most opportune time.  Understanding the basics of them today will help inform you as to when it may be the right time to make the jump for your home.   

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