Ground Mounted Solar Array

A common solar with battery installation will feature an outbuilding where the batteries are housed at a stable temperature

Do Solar Panels Need Batteries? No, But There Are 2 Main Reasons Why Illinois Homeowners Are Adding Them To Their Systems

A common misconception that many homeowners have is that batteries are required for a solar PV system. Actually, batteries are not required and are not installed on most solar energy systems. With that being said, that fact is changing. These days, adding batteries is becoming an increasingly affordable and popular option.

Benefits of Using Batteries with a Solar Energy System

Adding batteries to a solar system requires proper planning and priority setting. Purchasing batteries and associated hardware will increase system costs considerably. Therefore, each homeowner should be clear on their objectives for adding batteries. In our experience, we’ve found two main motivators exist for customers who plan on adding batteries to their solar panel systems:

  1. Pride of power ownership and the potential for power cost reduction ie. keeping excess solar energy for later use
  2. Emergency backup for when the grid goes down

Wayne G. of Hoyleton, IL looks on as his battery system comes to life. Wayne’s system also includes a generator in addition to his batteries – a nearly flawless system for keeping his electricity up and running

Pride of Power Ownership: Utility Net-metering Policies Drive Interest in Batteries

Many residential customers want to “own” their power and use it to the full extent. For these customers, integrating batteries for energy storage purposes can make financial sense.

These solar owners store their self-generated electricity for later use to avoid purchasing higher priced retail energy and selling to the grid at a low rate. These owners enjoy the feeling of greater energy independence while saving money as well.

Utilities with Net Metering

Despite these preconceptions, solar system batteries aren’t always a great option for saving money on electricity bills.

In territories such as Ameren Illinois and ComEd, full net-metering is available, providing 1-to-1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) credit for excess energy sent to the grid (as of this writing).

Ameren Illinois and ComEd generously allow excess energy accumulated over a month to be carried over to the next month. Energy (kWh) credits can roll over month-to-month for up to 1 year. At the end of the 12-month period, any remaining accumulated energy credits are lost without compensation in a “use-it-or-lose-it” arrangement.

Where the utility provides full 1-to-1 kWh credit, no electric rate advantage of storing energy for later use exists. Net metering may not be around forever. Utility companies in Illinois currently have a cap on how much of the grid can be made up by renewable. Don’t delay going solar if you’re in Ameren of ComEd territory!

Rural Coops and Municipal Utilities

Many rural electric coops and municipal utilities in Illinois no longer offer net metering. In these cases, excess energy pushed to the grid is compensated at wholesale power rates while inbound electricity to the user is charged at retail rate.

Co-op customers sometimes pay the utility about 3 times more than what the utility pays the homeowner for excess power. In these cases, battery systems built to store excess power can potentially provide electricity savings vs. paying rising utility rates.

Emergency Power Backup: The Top Motivator for Adding Batteries to Solar Panel Systems

Although the electric grid is typically stable and highly reliable, it is prone to short term outages due to weather like ice storms, high winds or tornadoes and similar.

As traditional power plants are shut down, grid brownouts or brownouts may occur. In the absolute worst-case scenario, a cyber or terrorist related, or EMP attack on the grid could create long-term power outages. Batteries for your PV system can provide a sense of security in these scenarios.

A distributed network of solar panel systems that also have battery backup can help with normal power loss situations. A solar panel system fortified with EMP protection is the ultimate defender against a worse-case scenario, long-term outage situation.

Commercial Battery Backup Solar

Douglas-Hart Nature Center in Mattoon, IL deploys a battery backup system to keep their major systems running during outages, including fish, turtle, and amphibian tanks.

Commercial Battery Backup Solar

Get Started with Solar Energy from Tick Tock Energy

A basic, grid-tied solar system is a great start for anyone looking to get a solar installation on their property. If banking your solar energy is something you want to pursue, it is a good idea to think about and plan for that today to help adding them later easier.

Are you interested in starting your path towards energy independence and peace of mind with a long-lasting solar installation? Time is ticking away, take action today! Get a custom solar quote for your farm, home, or business by calling Tick Tock Energy at (217) 994-9020.

Refer to this page on our website which summarizes backup power options.
Visit this page that further discusses utility interconnection and net-metering details.