Do you have an existing solar array and are you wondering if you can add a battery to make the most of the sun’s power but when you need it most? Keep reading for help and advice on whether it’s worth adding battery power to your solar system. So, can I add batteries to existing solar?
If you have had a solar system fitted in the last three years then you are definitely going to be thinking about battery storage, if you haven’t already. That’s because the Feed in Tariff (FIT) that existed until March 31st 2019 has since been replaced with the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) and this new form of payment seems to only be smart for the power companies themselves! They have to offer customers who feed into the grid above 0.00 pence per kWh – so generous! So compared to the old system of relatively generous financial reward, that would help pay off your solar installation, or make it worth while for companies to ‘rent a roof’, the benefit now is in using your energy and storing it for evening and weekend use.
What about the Feed-In Tariff?
If you still have access to the FIT you may be happy with the service and kick back but you are still likely to be paying way more for the additional energy that you use than the energy that you export. Did you know that you can continue to export an to the grid and store excess energy for your own use? So why not just keep it? Store it. Use it. You can store it in batteries, heat batteries and in hot water as a thermal store. You can languish in a long hot bath with the abundance of hot water that you produce with some careful power management.
You can also add more solar panels and battery storage even if you are already receiving the benefits off the FIT.
Smart Export Guarantee
Octopus Energy led the way with their own version of the SEG called outgoingOctopus very quickly after the FIT tariffs came to and end and before the SEG came in in 2020. In the 9 months in-between there was no obligation for the energy companies to pay customers anything for their exports.
Their outgoingOctopus deal features dynamic pricing, paying you at different rates every half an hour based on the wholesale price of energy at that time of day. If you have a regular consumption tariff with them, they’ll credit you for your ‘exported’ energy on your energy statements, right alongside the energy you are ‘importing’ – not on a separate statement.
They offer two Outgoing tariffs – Fixed or Agile. Outgoing Fixed guarantees 7.5p per kWh for every unit you export. Outgoing Agile matches your half-hourly prices with day-ahead wholesale rates, helping you make the most of the energy you generate. You’ll need a smart meter installed and the switch over should take about 14 days.
Octopus are doing what all good energy companies should, by alerting their customers when the prices are low they can enable their customers to make the most of cheap energy. This means that, when their ids more energy being generated (from wind for example) you could make sure the car is charged, fill up the batteries, heat the water and get the washing machine on!
It’s worth noting that you can’t receive both the FIT and the SEG but you can switch to the SEG if the supplier is offering a better deal.
The best of both worlds
As with the FIT, you can still benefit from solar battery storage and use the the SEG. You really can have the best of both worlds!
Charging an electric car
If you have or are thinking about getting an electric car then you have a battery! Making the most of the sun’s energy to fill up the car battery is a no brainer. But has your solar been set up to make the most of the solar array? myenergi developed the eddi and then the zappi specifically to harness and divert the sun’s energi. Since then other manufacturers have followed suit offering ‘smart’ car chargers. If you are thinking of adding a car charger then carefully considering how it uses the energy and balances the energy use of the home.
The average electric car battery is 40kWh, with some batteries having up to 100kWh. Your Electric Vehicle can soak up all of that solar power if you are able to charge it during the day. But if you are our during the day and you need to charge it at night then installing solar batteries is the obvious solution. The batteries charge up during the day and then that power is transferred into the car over night. You are going to need a decent amount of battery back up to pair the battery power of your car. The Alpha ESS Smile B3 offers a 2.9kWh – 17.4kWh as a modular system.
So, can I add batteries to existing solar?
Whatever set up you have it now needs to be smart and the various elements need to work together holistically, and with the grid to provide you with the best value from the investment in renewable technologies. What we all need to do is to think our energy use differently, to be aware of the companies that are acting cleverly, the tariffs that benefit us the most and design systems in our homes and businesses that intelligently make us as energy secure as possible.
We need to store our energy during the day and to make it available for use later in the day. We need to use the power of the sun to charge our vehicles, to heat our water, to wash our clothes. And when the sun goes down we need to maximise the power potential through battery storage. So, if you have solar you can and should benefit from battery storage in fact you’d be crazy not to!