Can you use solar power without batteries?

Okay, you’ve decided to invest in solar power after the pleasant discovery that it’s not all that expensive and will actually pay for itself within five years. The only thing holding you back is the cost of the battery. The question is, do you really need a battery back-up for solar power for home? Fortunately, in most cases, you don’t! Read on to find out whether you can opt for a solar system installation without battery.

Read ‘Solar panels: The smart investment that gives you 20% returns

What if you don’t have a battery?

One thing to remember is that solar power generation is strongest when the sun is shining fully — late morning, midday and afternoon.In most households though, power usage is highest before this (in the mornings, while getting ready for the day), or later in the evenings (completing chores, enjoying family time, making dinner or finishing homework).

The most efficient usage of solar energy would be to set a timer on electrical appliances and use them during the sunniest part of the day, so they use the plentiful power generated by the solar panel system. However, this is not always possible, and most households use only between 20 and 50% of their solar energy generated.

If your home is connected to the power grid, then the unused power is fed back into the grid and, depending on where you live, the power supplier then pays the homeowner a feed-in tariff for this energy. Once the sun goes down, and you require power for lights, heating/cooling, the television and any other appliances, you can draw from the main grid again. In this manner, the electrical grid functions as your power back-up.

When would I absolutely need a battery?
There are four main scenarios in which you would require a battery back-up to your solar array:

  • You are unwilling to rely on grid power generated by fossil fuels. If you want to simply live independent of the grid or rely only on clean power, a battery is your answer. The battery will store all the unused power from your solar array over the course of the day, and your appliances can then draw power from this when you are home.
  • You live in an area with unreliable power supply. In this case, it may be wiser to keep a battery as a back-up to your solar array and grid connection. Most batteries are built to tore power for critical loads for about one to two days, in case of grid failure. As an added advantage, using battery back-up will also lead to zero greenhouse gas emissions, unlike a diesel generator.
  • You live in an area prone to natural disasters. If you live in a flood- or earthquake-prone region, for example, your grid might suffer a power outage or may be suspended as a precaution. At such times, having a battery would be ensure uninterrupted power in your home.
  • You live in a remote area with no grid connection. In such areas, battery back-up is actually essential even for basic usage such as lights when it is dark.

Last word

If you find yourself still confused while weighing the pros and cons of battery back-up, CEC approved retailer Solar NextGen’s experts can help you decide the best solar deals for your requirements. Remember, battery back-up can always be added to your solar array later, don’t let that hold you back from going solar now. If budget is a constraint, it might make economic sense to forgo the battery until you have recouped the solar installation cost, which as we’ve explained in previous articles should happen within a mere three to five years.