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Solar batteries: a smart home energy solution

10 min read

Take more control of your power

The home is the center of family life but many people aren’t aware of the options they have to control how it's powered. And many forget to take the necessary steps to ensure that the home itself is prepared for a crisis. Below you’ll find information on how solar home batteries (often referred to as solar generators) can deliver peace of mind by ensuring that energy will be there, whenever you need it.

Solar home batteries and how they work

Solar batteries are quickly emerging as one of the best options both for emergency home energy backup as well as greater control over home power.

What’s a solar home battery?

A solar home battery is exactly what it sounds like—a battery, for your home, that stores power from your solar energy system. Solar batteries are often referred to as solar generators because they store excess energy from your solar panels to provide power when you need it.

How does a solar home battery work?


  1. System produces energy When the sun is shining, your solar energy system produces clean, renewable energy that you use to power your home.

  2. Battery stores excess When your solar energy system produces more clean energy than your home needs, the excess energy goes into your solar home battery.

  3. Home consumes storage If your solar energy system doesn’t produce enough clean energy to power your home, you can use energy stored in your battery to power your home. How much energy does a solar home battery store?

The most common home batteries have capacities around 10kWh so (depending on your specific configurations) this allows enough stored energy to power up to four circuits in your home, the most common of which are your fridge, kitchen, bathroom, and heater. For larger homes, or if you want to power more than four circuits, it is possible to upgrade to additional battery storage.

The time it takes the four circuits to consume all the energy in your solar home battery varies based on the battery type and age, as well as the size of appliances you’re powering. Most solar home batteries should keep your essentials running for at least a few hours but it is possible that your battery could maintain enough charge to keep your essentials running for days at a time.

This is because your panels continue to charge your battery during the day so it’s possible that they could produce enough energy each new day for your battery to never fully deplete overnight. Then the battery will begin to recharge as soon as sunlight hits panels the next morning.

Are solar batteries reliable during a crisis?

Yes, absolutely. As mentioned above, there are different configurations available and every crisis is different. But energy backup during emergencies is one of the biggest benefits of having a solar battery. Take a look at Willard Macdonald’s story about how a solar battery helped his family when the Kincaid wildfire in California threatened his home in 2019.


Are there benefits to solar batteries besides emergency backup power?

Yes. A big part of the reason that solar batteries are increasing in popularity is that they allow many homeowners greater control over their home energy usage. This means they have the chance to save money and rely less on grid-supplied energy, which tends to come from less environmentally friendly sources.1


How “Time of Use” rates influence energy costs

Most homeowners use more energy in the morning before leaving for work, and then again in the evening after returning home. These peaks in demand put a strain on public utilities as they try to supply the right amount of electricity at all times. In order to deal with this, some utilities have introduced Time of Use (TOU) pricing to try to curb demand. If your utility is one of the many that has introduced a TOU rate structure then you’ll most likely be paying more for energy during times when you need it most.

TOUgraph

Solar energy production during the day

Solar power production typically peaks during max sunlight hours in the middle of the day, when most people are not home. Some utilities offer credits for excess solar energy production, but some public grid systems can’t handle the influx of solar energy that happens midday. In other words, solar production and homeowner demand don’t always match timewise.

SolarGraph

Solar battery storage, part of an integrated solar energy system

A solar home battery allows you to store cheaper solar energy produced during the day so that it can be used at times when you need it most—when the sun goes down and the rates go up.

SolarBatteryGraph

Does Vivint Solar install home batteries?

Yes, we do. Vivint Solar partners with some of the most trusted names in solar battery technology to provide homeowners with reliable backup energy options. Visit our products page to learn more and get a quote on a solar home battery.

Are solar batteries available where I live?

Geography is an important consideration for those interested in solar generators because local laws and utility providers can heavily influence what types of products and solutions you might want, and even what is available.

Solar battery products

There is a wide variety of solar batteries out there and they can differ drastically in quality. But, generally speaking, the biggest difference between these products is size (both in terms of storage capacity and physical dimensions).

  • Portable solar batteries: Portable products are becoming increasingly popular because they can be purchased online and shipped to just about anywhere. The obvious drawback is that they’re likely to have far less storage capacity than your typical home solar battery and don’t integrate with a solar energy system to power your home instantaneously when the grid goes down. But if you’re looking for mobility or to supply power to smaller appliances, then portable solar batteries are a great choice.

  • Mid-size home batteries: The most common type of home solar batteries provide around 10kWh of storage and are available in most markets where residential solar is a good option. These batteries, like LG Chem’s RESU10H, for example, are “stackable”—meaning that it’s possible to install and integrate more than one with your solar panel system. See below for more information on mid-size options in your location.

  • Premium home batteries: Though less common, there are home solar batteries available that provide significantly more storage capacity than mid-size and portable generators. These options, such as sonnen’s ecolink, have capacities reaching 20kWh and typically come with apps and other tech features. See below for more information on premium options in your location.

Solar home battery solutions

Vivint Solar currently installs solar home batteries in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Utah.

  • California Backup Power: Wildfires, high winds, and drought threaten outdated grid infrastructure and leave California homeowners susceptible to being left without power for days or weeks at a time. We offer LG Chem (and sonnen batterie, in some areas) to homeowners that are seeking greater energy independence and peace of mind. California TOU Peak Shaving: Californians are used to paying excessive TOU rates, but they shouldn’t be. We offer integrated solar-plus-battery energy systems that store excess power during the day and make it available to use when you need it most so you can minimize the impact of high TOU rates.

  • Hawaii Self-Consumption: With solar panels on over 20% of homes in Hawaii, excess solar energy from homes can actually damage the public utility grid. We offer Hawaii homeowners a self-producing, self-consuming energy ecosystem that can help homes economically while also alleviating pressure on the public power grid.

  • Massachusetts Backup Power: Unpredictable power outages are a frustrating reality for many Massachusetts residents. We partner with National Grid's ConnectedSolutions program to provide homeowners a reliable source of backup power at a fraction of the cost.

  • Utah Backup Power: Earthquakes and winter storms present natural challenges to power providers across the state. We allow Utah homeowners the chance to add an LG Chem battery to their solar energy systems so that backup power can automatically kick-in within a fraction of a second to restore power to your home.


What financing options are available for solar home batteries?

Vivint Solar offers homeowners flexibility in obtaining the best home battery products and solutions for your situation. Below you’ll find a summary of financing options together with the locations where they’re available.2

Power Purchase Agreement (PPA3): Available in California

  1. Get solar-plus-battery with no money down.

  2. We take care of the system design, permitting, paperwork, and installation at no additional cost to you.

  3. Only pay for the power your panels produce. Your power production rate is fixed for the first 12 months and will never rise more than 2.9% annually.

  4. We provide system maintenance and performance monitoring at no additional cost to you.

Lease: Available in California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts

  1. Get solar-plus-battery with no money down.

  2. We take care of the system design, permitting, paperwork, and installation at no additional cost to you.

  3. Get a fixed monthly payment for the first 12 months. Your payment will never rise more than 2.9% annually.

  4. Receive a power production guarantee, so you'll never overpay for solar. If your panels don't produce the amount we estimate, we'll send you a check to make up the difference.

  5. We provide system maintenance and performance monitoring at no additional cost to you.

Loan: Available in California, Hawaii, and Utah

  1. Get solar-plus-battery with no money down.

  2. We take care of the system design, permitting, paperwork, and installation at no additional cost to you.

  3. Enjoy one convenient monthly payment and a fixed interest rate.

  4. Benefit from solar panel and solar storage tax incentives.4

Cash Purchase: Available in California, Hawaii, and Utah

  1. Get solar-plus-battery with no money down.

  2. We take care of the system design, permitting, paperwork, and installation at no additional cost to you.

  3. No monthly payment associated with your solar energy system.

  4. Benefit from solar panel and solar storage tax incentives.4

What other types of backup energy options are there?

The convenience of solar batteries, together with the fact that they allow homeowners to use clean power for backup, makes them a really popular choice. But there are other options. You can read our blog article to learn more about these other options, but here’s a quick list for easy reference:

  • Gas generators
  • Fuel cells
  • Wind power

See how much solar could save you!

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1Individual homeowner’s savings will vary by utility, system production, energy consumption habits, equipment type, weather, and other factors. Vivint Solar does not guarantee savings on (i) customer’s energy costs, (ii) the existence of or pricing associated with a utility’s net metering program, (iii) the pricing of a utility’s residential rates, or (iv) the availability of any local, state, or federal incentives or tax credits.

2All plans and products are for qualified homeowners and are subject to availability. Please contact your Vivint Solar representative to see if you qualify.

3PPA bills are based on energy generated by the solar energy system per month and not on the amount of energy you use from the system. If the system does not produce enough electricity, you will need to buy electricity from your utility. Your overall electricity costs are affected by a number of factors, including your consumption of electricity, the price you pay the utility, and the amount of sun the solar energy system receives. In some situations, your overall electricity costs may be higher with a solar energy system, so it's important to discuss these questions with your Vivint Solar representative and weigh the cost versus benefit for your home.

4Vivint Solar is not a licensed tax advisor, does not offer professional tax advice, and cannot guarantee the availability of any local, state, or federal incentives or tax incentives.

Copyright © 2020 Vivint Solar Developer, LLC. All rights reserved. Vivint Solar Developer, LLC (EIN: 80‐0756438) is a licensed contractor in each state in which we operate. For information about our contractor licenses, please visit vivintsolar.com/licenses.