6. Do the solar electric systems need batteries?
Batteries are not required for solar electric systems. Battery storage (off grid) systems are a good option if there is currently no electricity to a property and there would be increased costs to run electricity to the location. Batteries also allow people to achieve energy independence. However, batteries increase the complexity of the system and add approximately 20-30% additional cost to the system.
For many people, the best option is to be grid tied without battery storage. With a grid tied system, you can think of the utility as your battery back-up. If your system were to produce more than the building is using, your meter will run backwards and give you credits to use at another time. This is called a net-metered system.
For safety reasons, a grid-tied only system will not produce power during a blackout. A grid connected system allows you to create your system on a modular basis, meaning that you don’t have to power your entire home from the beginning. Rather, you can start with a system that aligns with your goals and budget and then add on later if you desire. In many cases, you can still eliminate a significant portion of your energy bill.
If additional energy independence, beyond grid-tied only solar is important to you, there are several good options and approaches for solar storage and providing power when the grid is down. We can talk through these options with you if you’d like.