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The Homeowner's Guide to Home Battery Backup

April 5, 2024
Cory O'Brien
The words solar battery backup guide atop a house being powered by a solar battery at night
In this article
01.
Home Battery Backups in 2024
02.
How do home battery backups work?
03.
The Benefits of Solar Panels with Home Battery Backups
04.
Home Battery Purchasing Considerations 
05.
Final Thoughts and Further Reading 

The Homeowner's Guide to Home Battery Backup

In the age of solar power, home battery backup systems provide safe and reliable energy security. As an advanced alternative to traditional backup systems, home batteries can increase your home’s energy independence and even lower your property’s ongoing electricity costs and carbon emissions. 

So for everything you need to know (and nothing that you don’t) about home battery backups,  we’ve developed this succinct guide for homeowners in the U.S.

Home Battery Backups in 2024

Rapidly gaining popularity in the last few years, home battery backups have slowly debuted from many global manufacturers and are now being paired with solar panels more frequently than ever before. This momentum is largely due to diminishing product costs, and battery prices are expected to continue falling through the end of the decade.

Image Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

How do home battery backups work?

A home battery backup can operate in several different ways, depending on whether or not you 

have solar panels and if your property is connected to the energy grid.  

  1. Solar Panels with Backup Batteries. Batteries can be charged with solar power during the day and then discharged to your home at night to limit your property's grid electricity consumption. If your battery is fully charged and your solar panels are still producing electricity, the excess power will be sent to the grid and usually redeemed as an energy bill credit. 
  2. Off-Grid Solar Batteries: If your home is not connected to the utility grid, a battery backup is the only way to capture all of the electricity that your panels produce throughout the day. Therefore, batteries are required for sustained access to solar power in remote locations and mobile homes.
  3. Standalone Home Batteries: Even without solar, some homeowners find that installing battery backups may be worth it to store electricity in case of a grid power outage. Batteries can be used both as an alternative to and in conjunction with other home energy generators. 

Through constant industry innovation, today’s sophisticated home batteries give users full control over their energy storage and usage. Most home solar batteries are app-integrated, with intuitive monitoring and management controls that include several automated operating modes to help meet your energy goals.   

The Benefits of Solar Panels with Home Battery Backups

As a homeowner, there are many financial, environmental, and lifestyle benefits of a solar and battery storage installation. 

  1. Backup Power During Electric Grid Outages

Without a battery, grid-tied solar panels cannot produce electricity during local outages, as the power generated has nowhere to safely travel when utility lines are shut down or in repair. By adding battery storage to solar panels, you can “island” or temporarily go “off-grid” to run your critical devices with the energy stored in your sustainable renewable power system.

  1. Greater Energy Independence 

With a home battery backup, you can tap into your stored solar power any time you want, unlocking several benefits beyond preparedness for grid outages alone. By consuming more of the solar power you generate directly onsite and offsetting ongoing grid electricity purchases, a solar battery may enable your property to run greener and cheaper in the long run.  

More Emission-Free Electricity at Home

In 2023, 60% of utility-scale electricity in the US was generated by natural gas, coal, or another fossil fuel. Meanwhile, solar energy accounted for just under 4% of total electricity generation. With greater control over your electricity habits, a battery can help ensure the energy consumed on your property is as eco-friendly as possible. 

Image source: SolarEdge

Expanded Solar Energy Savings

In areas with time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates, a home battery backup enables smarter utility energy purchases. For example, let’s say your utility charges 30 cents per kWh during peak billing hours (from 3 PM to 7 PM), and 10 cents per kWh throughout the rest of the day. If you need to run your dishwasher, EV charger, or another high-energy-demand appliance during peak hours, you can avoid paying premium prices by discharging your stored solar power. 

In areas without 1-to-1 net metering policies, like the net billing rates in California, Arizona, and Utah, energy storage and smart consumption habits can also help you recover the costs of going solar more quickly than systems without a home battery.

  1. Participation in Grid-Sharing Programs

Finally, grid-sharing programs for home battery owners are now in operation and development across many parts of the US. These programs, like the ConnectedSolutions Battery Program in Massachusetts or the Renewable Battery Connect Program in Colorado, pay homeowners directly for discharging stored power to the grid during peak-demand hours. 

By tapping into a distributed network of customer resources, grid-sharing programs enable utilities to better balance power supplies throughout the day, while rewarding battery owners for their participation. Although programs vary across the country, participants in ConnectedSolutions with National Grid can earn an average of $1,500 per year in 2024.

Home Battery Purchasing Considerations 

Deciding which battery backup system you will install is the most crucial step in the purchasing process. While considering the substantial investment costs of a home battery system, the ideal solution for your property should align with your unique energy goals and budget. To narrow down your search, let’s look at the two main motivators for home battery purchases.

Home Energy Backup: If you live in an area with semi-frequent grid power interruptions, or simply like to be prepared, a small solar battery can go a long way while keeping critical devices running. So as to avoid high upfront costs of adoption, a smaller-capacity battery (10 kW or less) can be a great investment if energy security is your primary goal for backup power. 

Long-term savings: For daily or semi-regular battery use to offset utility costs, long-term savings may be more assured with a larger backup energy reserve. With greater power capacities, you can capture all of the electricity your panels produce, and then discharge the energy whenever new solar power is unavailable.   

How Much Does a Home Battery Backup Cost?

According to SolarReviews, home backup batteries usually cost between $12,000 and $20,000 to purchase and install. The price of your solar battery is heavily dependent on the storage capacity you choose, and project expenses can be broken down into the following categories. 

  • Hardware. In addition to the battery itself, home power backups require balance-of-system (BOS) components, wiring, an inverter, and several small pieces of installation hardware. 
  • Labor. Battery installations are typically performed in less than a day, and a licensed electrician is usually required for your system to be interconnected to the grid.  
  • Permitting. Interconnection permits and building inspections will typically add a few hundred dollars to a solar battery installation.  
  • Overhead. From manufacturers through the supply chain and at the installation level, variable expenses may be incurred in project overhead, marketing costs, and other fees factored into supplier prices. 

Image Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Financial Incentives for Home Backup Batteries

To reduce the costs of home battery backups, there are many incentives, rebates, and programs available federally and locally for American homeowners. First and foremost, the residential clean energy credit (RCEC) can be claimed for up to 30% of total project costs on battery storage, solar panels, and several other home upgrades. Locally, many cities and utilities also offer one-time rebates for purchasing a home backup battery, with values typically based on the system’s energy storage capacity. 

Final Thoughts and Further Reading 

As energy storage continues to decrease in price and increase in popularity, solar panel and battery systems represent one of the best choices a homeowner can make for sustainable, long-term access to cheap and green power. If you are considering a home battery installation, feel free to continue your research with one of our other energy storage articles: 

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