☀️More Solar Panels or Battery Storage? Which to Pick in 2024?

Is it Better to Upgrade your Solar or install a Solar Battery?

When looking into investing further into your energy, it can be difficult to know exactly whether to expand your solar system or buy a battery to store your solar energy, as some homes can benefit greatly from battery storage, and other homes would benefit more from simple adding more panels to their system.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for everyone, but let's find out which option may be more suitable for you and your property.

Solar and Batteries?

A solar-only system is a great way to offset daily energy consumption from sustainable energy, which also takes next to no maintenance to harness free energy. Additionally, battery storage helps properties maximise their solar performance, to be used at day, night, and through grid outages.

Trina Solar and Sungrow Battery Storage

When Should You Buy a Battery?

As previously mentioned, battery storage is an excellent way to take advantage of your solar. For most solar systems, battery storage fits in well as the excess solar energy that your system generates can be stored away as cheap backup power.

When you only have solar, you get to take advantage of free energy throughout the day, but once the sun goes down, on-peak periods initiate, and you still need pay for expensive grid energy. Battery storage simply allows properties to use the excess power through the day to be stored in those periods, further improving your self-sufficiency.

In situations where a small-sized solar system is only producing offsetting your daily consumption; it leaves no leftover energy to store which defeats the whole purpose of having storage for solar.

BYD battery and Fronius Inverter
Tesla, Sungrow, and BYD battery

When you only have solar, you get to take advantage of free energy throughout the day, but once the sun goes down, on-peak periods initiate, and you still need pay for expensive grid energy. Battery storage simply allows properties to use the excess power through the day to be stored in those periods, further improving your self-sufficiency.

In situations where a small-sized solar system is only producing offsetting your daily consumption; it leaves no leftover energy to store which defeats the whole purpose of having storage for solar.

What size solar system is considered small? It really depends on your scale-of-consumption, but say if you owned a 3.3kW system which produces between 11-14 kWh per day, and the average household usage in Newcastle is around 13.2 kWh per day (according to Ausgrid’s report), this only leaves a little bit excess energy to be stored, resulting in the battery not being as beneficial compared to more solar panels.

For household lifestyles that are out during the day, a battery may the best option for you as you aren’t at home to take advantage of your solar and consume all of it. You can set timers for high consumption appliances, but this may not be applicable for most.

If you don’t have excess solar energy, a battery still might be useful to you, more on this later.


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When Should You Buy More Solar?

Expanding your solar will give you more energy generation through the day, with more flexibility to use high-consumption appliances like pool pumps or charging your electric vehicle using free energy as long as the sun is out.

Rooftop Solar Panels

In the situations above where a solar system produces little or no excess energy through the day, battery storage isn’t going to be as beneficial to you as a solar system upgrade.

Compared to a solar extension, it will typically be cheaper than what most batteries would cost, meaning it will be more accessible for most Australians.

If you already own a battery, and are considering whether to invest in another battery, it may be beneficial for you just to extend your solar system to add more power production to your property. This will really depend on your unique situation, so contacting a professional may be beneficial.

Due to space restrictions on some roofs, you may not be able to extend your solar system. There are other options like solar ground mount systems, but a battery may be your best option in that scenario.

Replacing Your Solar Instead of Extending it

If your solar system is getting old, replacing your solar system might be the best option to take full advantage of modern solar production.

With the continual improvements in solar panel technology, solar panels are now much more powerful and efficient compared to 10, even 5 years ago.

By replacing a system, you would be able to take up less roof real estate for the same sized system, which will also last much longer with 25+ year warranties available. This is because solar panel power output is getting better and better, with panels reaching from 440W, 600W, and even 720W.

We made an article around whether you should replace or upgrade your solar here.

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Book a Solar Health Check

Book a solar health check and ensure your system is working at its full potential. We provide health checks across Newcastle and the Hunter region.


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Solar electrician with Fronius Gen24

Assessing your Situation

In summary, when deciding on your next financial investment, we recommend considering the following elements:

Consumption Analysis
Your consumption habits may differ from Newcastle’s average, so looking at your daily consumption and the size of your system can allow you to see if you have excess solar storage potential.
Your Budget
Your budget is an important factor when it comes to solar and battery as you are making an investment. By getting a solid amount together, you get flexibility in your options.
Your Long-term goals
Your long-term goals should help you decide what your system will be designed for – you may want to invest in an EV or other high-consumption appliances in the future which could affect decisions.
Current System Confinements

Depending on your system, your inverter may not be battery ready which will add costs on top of the battery for a new compatible hybrid inverter and installation.

Amber Saves the Day

Adding another level of complexity to your decision (sorry), there is another factor that could influence your decision.

Amber, a service provider, allows you to access wholesale energy prices, and by using Amber Smartshift, you can automatically use your battery to buy cheap energy or use excess solar energy to be stored, and then sold during on-peak periods for a profit.

Amber Energy

Of course, with Amber, you will be in a different situation to others, as you would be able to benefit from a battery alone. Unfortunately, Amber Smartshift isn’t really designed for solar-only systems but is a great addition to battery or solar and battery systems which allows you to supercharge your systems’ returns.

Previous points still apply in some cases – if your system produces no excess energy from solar, you still won’t be able to store solar energy in your battery. However, Amber Smartshift can charge your battery using off-peak, cheap electricity, and sell it when demand is higher, all whilst your home is consuming solar like usual.

A few of our own employees are taking advantage of Amber for their solar and battery systems and are absolutely loving it. We really recommend them.

If I Was to Get a Home Battery, What Size Do I Get?

The good thing about battery storage, is the large variety of battery models and sizes that you can invest in, from Tesla Powerwall 2 (11.5 kWh), to the Sungrow batteries which starts at 6.4 kWh which can be scaled to your requirements, and more.

Battery sizes can be determined based on your unique, current (or extended) solar system, consumption, and budget. There are a variety of sized batteries for you and your installer to choose from.

Contacting your local battery installer and consulting them can help tremendously in deciding what brand, model, and size to choose from.

Soltaro battery storage hybrid
Solar installer technicians

Get a Second Professional Opinion

Talking to a professional solar and battery installer can help you find the optimal solution for your situation, with quotes and estimated return-on-investment timeframes.

Getting assistance can help you have a better understanding of certain decision criteria, estimated performance metrics, and a custom solution for you, regardless of your requirements.

Our team can work with you to help find the best solution for Newcastle and Hunter homes. Our team won’t try and upsell you something you don’t need, as we genuinely want to provide the best, tailor-made solution for you.

Conclusion

Overall, it will all depend on your unique situation. Variables like your usage, budget, current system, scalable opportunities, service providers, and other aspects will determine the right answer for your property.

Of course, the ultimate solution for this dilemma is investing in both an upscaled solar system, as well as a good-capacity battery.
This would supercharge your home into its own virtual power plant (VPP). Obviously, this isn’t a realistic option for most as the prices of solar extensions and storage can reach quite high depending on the system you choose.

There’s always a way to improve your energy efficiency, whether it’s the adoption of a new battery, an extension of your solar, or both, both are useful ways to take advantage of renewable energy as Australia strives for NetZero and as the world continues to strive for sustainability.



The recommendations are based on only a few situations and can vary home to home. For the ultimate accuracy, we really recommend uploading your bill and getting in contact with us, so we can have a chat (for free) about finding the best energy solutions for you.

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