Does Solar Energy Need Batteries?

Question:

If I get a solar electric system, what kind of batteries will I need?

Answer:

You don’t need any.

You may *want* batteries, and I’ll explain why, but batteries are not required for a solar electric system. The simplest (and least expensive) solar electric system generates power from sunlight hitting special panels, and supplies that to the electric utility. The whole purpose in doing things this way is financial: the electricity you generate gets subtracted from your electric bill & you only pay the difference.

You may want batteries if you:

  1. are not hooked up to a utility. This could be the case for a cabin, or an outbuilding that is far from a power-line hookup, or you could choose to not get hooked up at all.
  2. want or need to keep some or all of your power on if the utility power is off.

There is a little care & feeding associated with batteries, so they are not for everybody. And they aren’t free, so a solar electric system with batteries will cost more than one without. There are legitimate situations where batteries should be a part of a system, but not every system needs them.

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