How Many Batteries Does My Solar System Need?

The Most Comprehensive DIY Solar Panel GuideQuestion: I know solar systems require batteries, but I’m not sure exactly what is entailed. How many batteries does my solar system need?

Answer: Batteries help your solar system remain in use when the sun is tucked behind a cloud or has set for the night. When the sun is out and your solar panels are absorbing its energy, the conversion to electricity is instant. But what happens when the sun is not available? The ability to store solar energy in batteries and use it when sunlight is insufficient is a key component of solar systems.

The number of batteries your system needs depends on how much electricity you would like to produce. Batteries can also vary in size and storage capacity, so more energy does not necessarily mean more batteries, though it may mean bigger batteries. Batteries tend to be heavy however, so for households smaller batters in the 8V – 12V range are typically used.

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A typical US household generating all of its energy from a solar system (completely off-grid) would require several batteries, between 10 and 20, possibly more. It varies based on how much solar energy you can store, how many solar panels you have and how efficient your system is. On the other side of the coin, in order to run a few small appliances, or a small room of your house, it is feasible to accomplish this with one battery.

As an alternative to batteries, your solar system can also tie into a grid. This means your excess electricity (that which you aren’t directly using) is fed back into your utility company’s storage system, often at a credit to you, instead of stored locally in batteries. Then when the sun is down or behind a cloud and its energy isn’t available to you, your system will revert to grid-based electricity.

It’s nice knowing that no matter which route you choose, solar panel installation kits are available as DIY projects, making the whole process even simpler.

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