Energy storage buyers guide

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There has been a steady increase in the number of ready-to-use energy storage systems available. In this mini-guide, we take a look at the options so far.

Providing electricity to off-grid homes has always required the use of a suitably sized battery bank for energy storage.

In recent months, there has also been a lot of interest in energy storage for homes with a grid-connected solar system—whether for avoiding export at times of excess solar generation, load shifting (buying energy when cheap, storing it and then using it to offset energy use at more expensive peak times) or for supply backup, for times of mains power grid failure. The latter is especially important for users with critical needs, such as telecommuters, people with medical appliances and the like.

Both on- and off-grid storage systems need a battery bank sized to suit the requirements. This is coupled with energy generation equipment such as solar panels, a charge controller, an inverter and various other components.

There has been a move in recent years towards storage systems that contain the batteries and other components in a pre-configured ‘storage in a box’ module that is simply connected to a generator such as a PV array. These sorts of pre-configured energy storage systems are the focus of this buyers guide. We have included any unit that contains a battery bank and associated safety gear, as well as at least one other system component such as the charge controller or inverter.

We do not cover individual batteries/cells, as they have their own buyers guide, the most recent of which appeared in ReNew 113.

Pros and cons

There are several advantages to this sort of ‘storage in a box’ system. Firstly, installation is usually quick as much of the wiring between components has been done. Secondly, it often makes for a neater system as many components and their associated wiring are enclosed in a single cabinet.

There are some disadvantages too, including less flexible system sizing—most suppliers have a few standard battery bank sizes that they offer. However, storage units may be modular so that multiple units can be used to make up the required capacity.

Read the full article in ReNew 128