How Does a Solar Battery Storage Work?

The idea of having an energy-independent home is quite enticing for any homeowner. It comes with a lot of advantages, the main one being the fact that you won’t be affected by utility rate fluctuations. Also, you’ll be promoting the ‘green energy’ campaign, which is currently being recommended as a way of preserving the environment. Fortunately, it’s an attainable dream given the rapid advancement in the world of energy storage. All you need is a set of solar panels or a solar energy provider, and a battery backup to satisfy your needs.

Solar batteries are an integral part of this setup since they ensure a continuous supply of power if the grid goes down. This article will break down the seemingly complex operation of these storage devices into a few easy-to-understand steps. The discussion will revolve around a battery that’s already paired with a solar system rather than a standalone solar battery storage.

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Feeding the Solar Energy

When sunlight rays hit the panels, the visible light is converted to electrical energy. The electrical current flows into the battery and is stored as DC electricity. It’s worth noting that there are two types of solar batteries: AC-coupled and DC-coupled. The latter has a built-in inverter that can convert the electricity current to DC or AC. As such, the DC solar electricity will flow from the panels to an external power inverter, which will convert it to AC energy that can either be used by your home appliances or stored in the AC battery. What the built-in inverter will do in this case is convert the AC electricity back to DC for storage.

As for a DC-coupled system, the battery doesn’t have a built-in inverter. As such, the DC electricity from the solar panels flows to the battery via a charge controller. Unlike in an AC setup, the power inverter in this system is only connected to your home’s wiring. As such, electricity from the solar panels or your storage battery is converted from DC to AC before flowing to your home appliances. What determines how much energy is stored in the battery?  Read on to find out more.

The Charging Process

As power flows from the solar panels, your home’s electricity setup will take precedence. Therefore, electricity directly feeds your appliances, like refrigerators, TVs, and lights. Often, this energy from solar panels can be more than what you need. For instance, on a hot afternoon, a lot of power is produced, yet your home isn’t using much of it. In such a scenario, net metering occurs, wherein the extra energy flows back to the grid. However, you can use this overflow to charge up your batteries.

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The amount of electricity stored in the battery depends on how fast it charges up. If, for example, your home doesn’t use up too much power, then the charging process will be quick. Also, if you’re connected to huge panels, then a lot of electric energy will flow to your home, which means the batteries will charge up a lot faster. Once your battery is full, the charge controller will prevent it from overcharging.

Why Do You Need A Solar Battery?

1. To shield you from power outages

If you’re connected to a grid, there’ll always be a few moments when the transmission system malfunctions or is shut down for maintenance. As soon as this happens, the system will isolate your home from the grid and activate the backup source. In this case, the battery will operate like a backup generator.

2. Time-of-use rate plans

On these plans, you’ll be charged according to the amount of electricity you use, as well as the time during which you use it. TOU states that the power drawn from the grid at night is more valuable than the extra energy produced during the day. As such, by storing the extra energy and using it at night, you’ll reduce the overall cost of electricity in your home.

Closing Remarks

With the world embracing ‘green energy,’ solar panels are gradually replacing the traditional sources of electricity. Solar batteries play a crucial role in ensuring that you have a reliable power supply in your home. AC-couple storage batteries have a built-in inverter, which converts the electric current to DC or AC, depending on the direction. On the other hand, a DC-couple battery doesn’t have this feature. Both batteries, however, store electric energy in DC regardless of the setup. The speed at which electricity is stored in the batteries depends on the size of the panels and the amount used by your home appliances.

What is a Power Inverter and Why do I Need One?

Are you the owner of an RV, SUV, car, boat or other vehicle, and want to be able to watch TV, cook, or power a laptop onboard? If yes, you’ll be needing a power inverter. But what are they, and what do they do? Read on to find out why you’ll need one to power your gadgets on the road…

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What is a Power Inverter?

Basically, they are devices that turn your vehicle battery’s direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) – the kind of electricity you have in outlets in your house, that are connected to the energy grid.

Having a power converter means you can plug in your appliances and devices, and power them like you would through an electricity outlet in a house.

In your car, you can get USB adaptors for your cigarette lighter so that you can charge your phone or plug in your satnav. But for larger gadgets and electronics with proper plugs, you’ll need an inverter.

Working of a Power Inverter

Like we said, they convert currents to a type safe for use in vehicles. Your vehicle’s battery voltage provides a current that powers its internal workings – you’ll need to know which voltage your vehicle’s battery uses to choose the correct inverter.

The current supplied by a battery sticks on one circuit, in one direction – where the name ‘direct current’ comes from.

However, to power your gadgets, you’ll need alternating current, as those electronics need more power to function than the DC can provide. They’re made to function with the high-voltage AC current supplied in homes.

Power inverters increase the DC voltage, change it to AC, then use it to power your devices. They amp up your battery’s voltage so you can play video games and use a kettle in your RV. Cool, huh?

Size Selection

These babies come in a variety of sizes – most commonly 1000, 3000 or 5000 watts.

It’s recommended that a 3000 watt inverter is the happy medium between inverter sizes and best choice to get. They’re not too small like the 1000, or too powerful and overcharged like the 5000. If you need a little extra boost, there are 3500 watt capacities available.

Find the best 3000 watt inverter for your vehicle by checking out the useful comparison guide by Solar Know How.

Modified or Pure Sine Wave Inverter?

Besides the sizing, there are two main types of inverter – the modified sine wave, and the pure sine wave.

So, what’s the difference, and which one will you need?

  • Modified Sine Wave: These tend to be cheaper, and less powerful. However, they’re good for most everyday electronics you will want to use, just not very large ones.
  • Pure Sine Wave: These are compatible with pretty much all electronics, gadgets, and appliances, and produce a powerful current most like the one supplied by the electric grid. These are the most common choice, because they’re more likely to be compatible with anything you need to plug in.

Power inverters are useful for charging on the road without having to cart around adaptors and large plugs

Other Features and Tips

  • Power inverters are especially useful if you are setting up a solar power system – they convert energy from the sun into electricity you can use to power your gadgets within your vehicle. This is renewable energy that isn’t a drain on your best car battery.
  • Power inverters aren’t just for vehicles – if you have a small cottage or outhouse, they’re very useful for setting up a small power source there.
  • Many (but not all) power inverters come with USB outlets, useful for charging on the road without having to cart around adaptors and large plugs. For ease of use, get one compatible with USB.
  • The best inverters have digital screens which show you how much energy has been consumed and information about battery voltage. It’s useful to know these things at a glance, so consider getting one that has a screen.
  • Modern inverters have been made to be extra-quiet, so you won’t be woken up by a noisy machine while trying to simultaneously get some sleep and charge your phone in your RV.