Net metering policies have led many consumers and solar power converts to believe that a solar battery backup is an unnecessary expense that fails to pay dividends on its investments. However, those opinions are now beginning to change as more companies are investing in the power of battery backups.
A solar battery allows consumers to control their power consumption and where their energy goes. Not only that, but smart features associated with backup battery packs enable you, the consumer, to understand where your power is going and what steps you can take to lower your grid consumption.
With that being said, not all batteries are created equal. The battery that will work best for your family’s lifestyle and solar power setup will depend on a variety of factors, including the installation cost, the kilowatt-hours the battery can store, battery life and your overall power consumption profile.
We’ve collected the leaders in solar energy batteries and analyzed how they stack up against each other.
The Tesla Powerwall
Based in Palo Alto, Tesla is a leader in the solar energy sector. In 2015, the company announced their Powerwall battery packs for home and industrial use. Since then, they have worked to offer larger capacity batteries that not only work more efficiently but offer consumers the ability to manipulate their energy usage manually. The current Powerwall comes in a variety of configurations for both home and industrial usage, but the 13.5 kWh system is the most widely installed battery backup for home use.
Pros of the Tesla Powerwall
Tesla, a name synonymous with cutting-edge technology, has been a leader in the solar industry for years. Their Powerwall battery remains the leader in solar battery backups in the United States, and for good reason. Many positive attributes make the Powerwall an ideal choice for many homeowners:
At around $7,500 with supporting hardware, the 13.5 kWh system is one of the most economical options on the market.
Intelligent software and time-based controls allow the owner of the system to manually manage their consumption, lowering bills and minimizing the cost of electricity throughout the day.
A 10-year warranty ensures that the battery will charge to at least 70% of its capacity for the 10-year life of the battery.
The negatives of the Tesla Powerwall
The battery backup does not allow solar panel owners to take advantage of net metering offerings.
The 13.5 kWh battery may not fully charge during the winter months or storm seasons, meaning the larger capacity backup battery system may not be fully utilized for much of the year.
What is the best application for the Tesla Powerwall?
Tesla’s Powerwall system is best reserved for home use only. Because the battery is a day-to-day backup charger, homeowners can expect to see a reduction in their grid usage during peak energy consumption hours. The large size ensures that the energy collected can power a home for the evening hours.
The Powerwall will work most efficiently in areas that experience sunny weather all year long. Those living in a climate that experiences heavy storms or intense winters were little sun is seen are better off opting for a smaller battery.
Sonnen solar battery
Sonnen, an energy company founded in Germany in 2010, has focused their efforts on the production of solar batteries. As a top solar battery producer in Germany, the company has offered homeowners eight generations of its power storage systems.
Since 2017, Sonnen has marketed their batteries in the United States through a network of installers. They are currently in the market in Switzerland, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Italy, as well.
Sonnen’s newest storage system, the Sonnen Eco is offered in a variety of sizes, from 4-kilowatt hours to 16-kilowatt hours. While the 4kWh model is the most economical and the most popular size in the series, it is significantly smaller than competitors in the space.
Pros of the Sonnen Eco solar battery
Sonnen’s Eco battery attempts to meld solar energy with features befitting even the most technologically-advanced smart home. Because of the company’s commitment to advancing technologies, the battery has a plethora of useful features that should be considered when looking at battery backup systems:
4 kWh is enough to power a home for a few hours an evening, but the system can allow for add-on banks up to 16-kilowatt hours.
Sonnen’s smart system allows owners to manage were energy is being sent.
The data collected is also used to create an energy profile that the battery backup system will use to learn about your power needs and solar capacity over time.
The company offers a 10-year warranty that ensures the battery will maintain up to 70% of its storage capacity over a 10-year lifespan.
The negatives of the Sonnen Eco solar battery
At around $9,000 before installation, the smallest system is more expensive than its competitors.
The smallest system, over its lifetime, is too small to store enough energy for a heavy power-consumption user, meaning owners will likely still have to pay for utility usage during part of their evening.
What is the best application for the Sonnen Eco solar battery?
Sonnen’s Eco battery is best reserved for small homes or those who are low consumers of power. The small size and the cost of adding additional systems may be prohibitive for heavy power consumers. The battery’s smart technology and energy management application is ideal for individuals who are interested in tracking and manually controlling where their power is going each night.
The LG Chem solar battery system
The LG Chem RESU battery is a lithium-ion battery intended to capture solar energy and store it for later use in residential settings. Like many of the batteries currently on the market, the pack aims to store excess energy that is collected during a home’s lowest energy consumption period and disperse it during peak energy consumption periods. It is a day-to-day battery pack, meaning it expects to charge and discharge over a traditional 24-hour period.
Pros of the LG Chem
The LG Chem is an excellent battery option that offers a variety of positive attributes to homeowners who are looking to harness the power of solar energy.
9.3 kWh is an intermediate size battery that is adequate for most home setups.
With futuristic styling it is a relatively unobtrusive addition, aesthetically speaking.
The downside to the LG Chem solar battery system
The average cost of the LG Chem system, including supporting equipment and installation ranges from $11,000 to $13,000 depending on location and installation charges.
The LG Chem comes with a warranty that ensures the battery will work to 60% capacity over a 10-year period, which is less competitive than warranties offered on similar sized units from other producers.
What is the best application for the LG Chem solar battery system?
The LG Chem RESU, like the batteries it's competing against, is not intended for people who are looking to go “off the grid.” Instead, the batteries are best deployed in energy-conscious homes that require energy coverage during peak consumption periods. The 9.5 kWh system is enough to cover a home for several hours of energy use, but not enough to cover high consumption homes over a period of days.
The BYD B-Box solar battery system
BYD is a large Chinese company headquartered in Shenzhen. Despite the company’s massive size in the Asian market, they remain a relatively unknown brand outside of China and surrounding countries. While they are working on their brand recognition in the United States and Australia, they are not likely to outpace their competitors anytime soon.
Their B-Box solar batteries, however, do the job just fine in most residential setups. The company offers a variety of different systems, including high voltage and low voltage offerings in storage capacities ranging from 2.45 kWh to 9.8 kWh. The company provides a warranted cost per kilowatt-hour of .34 cents.
BYD B-Box’s most positive attributes
BYD, as a lesser known company, has big shoes to fill if it wishes to break into the solar markets in the United States and other countries. However, the B-Box has some great features that may make it the best option for your solar power setup:
BYD uses lithium iron phosphate batteries which are safer than traditional lithium-ion batteries found in phones and laptops.
Large power capacities allow for optimal usage of stored energy
The smallest unit—at just 2.45 kWh storage—is the stingiest capacity in its class.
Cons of the BYD B-Box
A large footprint makes the battery system obtrusive.
The optimal temperature range makes the B-box a less-than-ideal option for extreme climates.
What is the best application for the BYD B-Box?
The BYD B-Box might be small in storage capacity, but it is mighty in power output. The large size of the device (roughly the size of a refrigerator) makes it obtrusive, so the battery pack is best reserved for homes that have an easy way to hide the device. It’s small storage capacity, and limited optimal temperature range means that it only makes sense for small homes that are in temperate climates.
Is there a clear-cut winner among solar batteries?
Tesla’s Powerwall remains one of the most popular solar batteries produced, but that doesn’t make it a clear-cut winner in all categories. Each of the battery packs covered above have viable applications. What battery will work best for your home will largely depend on your budget, your location, your personal energy consumption profile and what additional features you’d like to see in your system.
When picking a solar energy system, whether choosing solar panels or a battery backup, it is best to speak with a qualified installer to better understand your options. We also suggest you check out the solar calculator to understand better how solar energy can work for you.