What you need to know about Solar Battery Storage

Renewable energy technology is a massively expanding market in Australia, gaining further momentum through Government subsidies and rebates available to customers and given how important it is to our country’s...

Renewable energy technology is a massively expanding market in Australia, gaining further momentum through Government subsidies and rebates available to customers and given how important it is to our country’s future, here’s a solar battery storage guide to help you through the options available today. 

More than 2 million homes and businesses in Australia now have solar on their roof which is an amazing milestone, however with that success, comes the next opportunity. Moving power over large distances, for example, between a power station and your home, results in significant energy losses.  

A far more efficient method is to collect and store the energy as close as possible to the location that needs to use it. For many home owners and businesses, that increasingly means adding a battery to their solar solution, to store the energy collected form the solar panels, ready for use when the sun goes down.  

There is a massive opportunity for home owners, to add battery storage and dramatically reduce or even eliminate their power bill completely. This requires some planning to ensure the right sized system is in place for your growing family needs. If you get it right, you’ll be able to simply live and enjoy all the modern conveniences we have today and not think about the cost ticking away in the back of your mind.  

Choosing a battery supplier 

Once on-board with the benefits of buying battery storage, you’ll need to consider the brand and product very carefully, as each offering is different in important ways.  

Right now in Australia, there are really 4 different manufacturers to choose from: 

When it comes to the reality of purchasing a system, some people are buying solar when they build a new home, but most are retrofitting to existing properties. These systems are often purchased through energy providers which may seem like a strange source, given you’re trying to get away from their increasing prices.  

Energy companies are faced with significant challenge right now. Manage the decreased capacity of base-load power (thanks to aging coal-fired power stations being closed down), while increasing the energy mix from renewable sources. They also need to cater for regular population growth, while also accommodating additional demands on the grid, like that due to a growth in electric vehicle sales.  

Dedicated solar panel and battery installers are often a far cleaner source for storage as these businesses are often focused on selling the solar panels and batteries and the service of installation. Often helping you store and use your own energy is the motivation, rather than the power companies that increase your service charge as your consumption goes through the floor.  

Whether you have solar and are looking to add battery storage, or are keen to dive right in and add both solar and battery as a package at once, there are big benefits to be had.  

Your solar panels collect power from the sun, which charges your battery during the day. When the sun isn’t shining, your home is powered by the energy stored in the battery (often in your garage). When you get home from work, between the hours of 6PM and 10PM power usage and therefore prices are at their peak. Being able to use the free energy you collected during the day, represents a substantial saving to you as you don’t need to draw from the grid.  

If you’re able to select the correct sized system for your family’s energy needs, then there’s a chance you could arrive at a $0 power bill and this is already being achieved in Australia. 

Some solutions, like Tesla’s Powerwall 2, can scale to meet your requirements, meaning you can add multiple (obviously extra up-front cost), and potentially have enough energy for 2-3 days of power without the grid.  

While Austarlia’s power reliability is generally pretty good, we have seen a downturn in reliability over recent years. By adding a battery, you also add redundancy to your power supply. This means in the event of a power outage, could be the only house in the street with power.  

If you are in the market for a battery system, it’s worth considering the features and price of each, as well as the rebates available in your state. 

If you are in Victoria, South Australia, Canberra or Queensland, make sure you check if you are eligible for additional state Government solar battery rebates. 

Victoria 

Each year, the Victorian Government offer a Solar Homes program, where a rebate is provided for a set number of households (or until the grant budget is expended). This has previously been just for solar (max rebate of $2,225), but now includes as much as $4,838 off the price of a battery.  

There’s a few terms and conditions around this – your combined family taxable income has to be less than a $180,000 per year and your home needs to be worth less than 3 Million dollars.  

Here’s perhaps the most critical, the Government selects specific postcodes for the scheme each year, so to be eligible, you must be located in a specific postcode which you can check here. The rebate covers up to 50% off your battery storage installation but you must have an existing solar system installed. 

South Australia 

As we know, SA has been one of the most progressive states when it comes to renewable energy policy. If you have a house here, there’s up to $600 per kW solar battery rebate up to a total of $6,000 per installation. Given Tesla’s Powerwall 2 features the largest, 13.5kW capacity, they cut you off a little earlier than the total of 13.5 * $600 = $8,100, still $6,000 off the price of a battery, really can move it into the bracket of affordability for many more households.  

The South Australia Home Battery Scheme has a target of 40,000 homes to install batteries. 

ACT 

In the nation’s capital, Canberra, home-owners can get up to a very generous $825 per kW rebate, when purchasing battery storage, under the Next Generation Energy Storage program. Rebates are capped at a total solar battery rebate of $24,750. Yep, incredibly generous and only the largest systems would to that number.  

A standard household with a 5 kW system would typically be eligible for around $4,000 in support. 

Queensland 

Up north the story is quite different. If you qualify, the Queensland Government will fund a solar battery rebate up to $3,000, with a loan up to 10 years at a crazy 0% interest rate (look around, you can’t beat that).  

How much do batteries cost? 

When you install a solar system and store the energy in a battery, your return on that investment is significantly impacted by the cost of the system. 

The prices for each of the different solar batter solutions are listed below. While price range from A$10,000 – 15,000, it’s important to recognise the product vary in capacities and features and will also be considerably cheaper when rebates are accounted for. 

  • Alpha ESS – $10,000 installed 
  • LG Chem – $10,000 installed 
  • Tesla Powerwall 2 – $14,500 installed 
  • Sonnen Batterie – $15,000 installed 

What are the differences? 

Deciding between Solar Battery Storage Solutions can be easy once you understand the different features available from each 4 Manufacturers and what their products can offer you. Buy battery that’s too small and you may find yourself still with a power bill, buy one too large and you may have overcapitalised and extended the payback period (breakeven point) too long into the battery’s lifetime.  

Below you’ll find a table that lays out the details of each of the offerings available in Australia today. There is no perfect solution, like selecting the size of your solar system, selecting a battery is very specifically based on your needs and budget.  

 Alpha.ESS Alpha.ESS LG Chem Sonnen  Tesla
Usable Capacity(Kwh)  11 9.3 9.8 9.43 13.5 
Product Warranty Term (yrs) 10 10 10 10 10 
Self Consumption Mode Warranty  80% of original output 80% of original output N/A N/A Unlimited 
Energy Throughput Warranty  29.2mWh (If not self consumption mode) 29.2mWh 
(If not self consumption mode) 
30mWh 100mWh 37.8mWh 
(If not self consumption mode) 
Cycle Warranty 3,140 
(If not self consumption mode) 
3,140 
(If not self consumption mode) 
3,061 10,000 2,800 
(If not self consumption mode) 
Performance Warranty 
 
80% of original output in self consumption mode 80% of original output in self consumption mode 60% of original output Not stated in Warranty Terms 70% of original output in self consumption mode 

If you’re still on the fence about the benefits of solar and battery combined, then check out this case study from New Gisborne in Victoria which includes a massive 6.5kW system for just A$2,250 (after rebate). 

It seems the 3-4kW solar systems of a few years ago, are quickly being replaced with much larger systems, like the 6kW system shown in this case study from Truganina in Victoria. It’s clear the conversation is quickly turning from should I get solar to how much can I fit on my roof and how can I store and use that locally, rather than send it back to the grid for reducing feed-in tarrifs. 

Personally, my wife and I built a house a couple of years ago and have just added our first EV to the garage, a Tesla Model 3. This made me particularly interested in finding out more on the Victorian rebates. If you’d like to know more, head to SolarRun.com.au where they have a great summary of what’s on offer. 

More information at SolarRun

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Solar

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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