Do I Need Battery Backup For My Solar Panels? A Question from Olympia

Solar power is a great energy source for your Olympia home – clean, cheap, readily available in near infinite supply. But what happens when the sun doesn’t shine? Sure, UV rays still reach the Earth and provide solar energy on a cloudy day, but not as efficiently as in bright sunshine. What if it rains for a few days? What about the winter months when sunlight is in shorter supply?

These are all logical questions for anyone considering switching to solar energy. After all, without sunlight, your home could be without power and then what do you do? There are a few solutions to these issues, including a battery backup system. Before deciding one way or the other on a battery backup, there are a few things to consider.

Are You Staying On The Grid?

If you plan to keep you home connected to the local utility grid and use the two energy sources to supplement one another, then there is no real reason to have a backup system. Effectively, the electric company serves as your backup system, so if your solar supply runs low, you can use “regular” electricity by buying power as you need it and selling back any excess. If you are getting off the grid, however, and using solar or other alternative energy sources for 100% of your energy needs, then you will need to have some kind of backup system in place.

Battery or Generator?

Aside from battery systems, using a generator as a backup is another option. Generators work well and can produce enough electricity to power a home, but they can also be rather noisy and require you to have a fuel supply (usually propane or gasoline) on hand. They are best suited to short periods of use.

If you want to get completely off the grid, and you plan on needing backup power more frequently that a generator would be convenient for, then a batter backup system may be for you. Such a system requires installation of additional components, including not just the batteries but also an inverter and extra wiring. This means extra cost to you, and extra maintenance down the road. The batteries will also need to be replaced as they become depleted and unable to hold a charge.

These are many issues to be aware of in deciding whether a battery backup system is right for you. Strictly speaking, most home solar energy won’t need a battery backup, but it may be appropriate or necessary depending on your needs.

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