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Should I Buy Solar Batteries In Cairns?

An increasingly higher number of residential solar installations are now accompanied with solar batteries in Cairns. This post is here to highlight and evaluate the pricing, timing benefits and features when you buy solar storage batteries in Cairns.

Having an array of rooftop solar panels on your home is certainly a long-term investment and commitment with obvious rewards in terms of electricity bill savings. One of the concerns for most customers I speak with is whether they need to buy solar batteries to couple with the solar power system.

From my experience, a solar storage battery adds at least $10,000 to the overall cost of a residential solar system. However, this comes with a wide range of benefits that highly depend on a household’s energy needs and relationship with the electricity retailer.

So, what are the benefits of buying solar batteries in Cairns?

Power outages or blackouts are becoming more frequent in other parts of Australia for a number of different reasons. Some places are bombarded by transmission problems with the main grid, others severe weather conditions that blow out electricity network infrastructure, while some like Cairns in Far North Queensland experience blackouts during our iconic storm season.

Let’s not compare ourselves to the US though. The solar storage market is it’s own beast on the other side of the world. In a survey by SunPower, 40% of the 1,500 homeowners who participated were concerned about blackouts occurring every month. One-third said high-profile blackouts like those that occur in Texas during winter storms last February, are the main reason why they considered investing in energy storage. 

So how many solar batteries must one install and for how long should it deliver backup?

Most solar companies in Cairns like Hielscher Electrical provide two options: whole-home backup that requires installation of an array of batteries, or a partial backup that allows homeowners to choose given circuits relating to outlets or appliances of their choice.

When choosing specific circuit breakers, many homeowners choose the refrigerator, home office, garage door opener or heavy energy consuming kitchen appliances.

To really understand a home’s energy needs and determine those that require solar battery back-up, homeowners can use this Ergon Energy Appliance Running Cost Calculator.

The 7kW Redback Technologies solar battery setup is one of the best home energy storage batteries in Cairns. Redbacks Australian made solar batteries are exponentially becoming popular among Cairns homeowners. Ideally, the storage batteries provide 7kW per hour storage capacity or 1 kW available for up to 7 hours.

LG Chem is another energy storage brand whose 9.6 kWh and 16 kWh battery models have grown in popularity.

When it comes to household appliances, the 7kWh is equivalent to powering a 1,500 Watt air source heat pump in less than four hours, three 20 Watts light bulbs for a whole 100+ hours or a 200 Watt refrigerator for 30 hours.

In the right circumstances, a Redback solar battery system can backup fundamentals like refrigerator, phone, WiFi and lighting for up to 24 hours in the event of a power outage.

In addition, as long as the sun is up and shining, a solar power system connected to a solar storage battery will continually generate and store energy.

Solar power systems without a storage battery usually power down during a blackout for safety reasons. When there’s no battery to store the energy, the electricity produced has no safe place to go, hence the system has to resolve to a rapid shutdown mechanism (the power grid becomes inaccessible when under repair).

Myself and my team at Hielscher Electrical work closely with Cairns homeowners in order to ascertain their backup needs, and assess its readiness of its main electrical panel for backup integration. Sometimes the solar and battery installer may recommend a solar panel upgrade to accommodate the solar storage battery. This exercise comes at an additional cost of course however pays it’s way in the long run.

Solar Battery Prices in Cairns

Battery Size Battery Only Price* Battery + Inverter/Charger**
(Fully Installed Solar Battery)  – November 2021

*Price includes the installation of the solar battery only. You must already have a hybrid/battery ready system

**Includes an additional solar inverter that works with the batteries for a DC-coupled solar batteries in Cairns

Solar Battery Benefits And Savings

As earlier noted, most Cairns homeowners are increasingly choosing to buy solar batteries alongside their residential solar power systems.

Truly, without a solar storage battery, a grid-connect residential solar power system will only export the excess energy back to the grid in real-time. With a solar storage battery, power can easily be charged and discharged to optimise electricity bill savings.  

Looking at demand charges for example, some energy retailers in Australia do charge an extra fee based on the optimal amount of electricity used in a single hour, or a 15-minute period within a given month.

As such, a Redback solar storage battery can be conveniently scheduled to discharge energy during peak consumption times so that energy demands during peak hours are streamlined, ultimately lowering demand charges.

Some energy retailers around Australia also rely on a billing design known as time-of-use, which, like the demand charges, are meant to stem electricity consumption during peak demand times. For instance, an electricity retailer can charge a lower rate of $0.14 kWh for consumption during off-peak hours and thereafter raise the rate to $0.32 kWh.

However, with a solar storage battery, a household can store power during off-peak hours—generally during the day when the solar panels are generating optimal electricity.

The solar batteries can then supply the free energy to the home during peak hours, usually in the evening as consumers return from work and operate home appliances when the solar panels generate less electricity. In the absence of a solar batteries, households have to pay whatever rate charged if the solar system isn’t actively generating power.

The third benefit is the ability for solar batteries to deliver value for the energy retailers even where there’s no net metering. Net metering refers to the process where excess solar energy is exported to the electricity grid in return for credits or an offset on their electricity bill.

Sometimes energy retailers provide one-to-one value, whereby each kWh of energy exported covers one kWh of the energy bill cost. On the other hand, households can record decreased value on net metering.

For instance, electricity may be billed by an energy retailer at $0.32 kWh, even though the cost of exported electricity only provides a credit value at $0.08 kWh.

Cost factors

A lithium-ion residential solar battery has a reasonable price tag of about $9,000. Right now in, a solar battery storage system in Cairns that comes paired with an array of solar panels qualifies for various government solar rebates and incentives.

Other states such as South Australia, home of the Australian made Tindo Solar panel provide extra financial incentives for adding solar batteries to an existing system, and in most cases the added value makes a significant difference providing relief on batteries for homeowners.

A contributing factor to consider when estimating Cairns solar battery prices, it’s important to understand the cost of parts and components which may or may not be included. For instance, Tesla approximates the cost of the hardware supporting the Tesla Powerwall at $1,800, with the installation cost ranging from $800 to $2,000. Australian battery manufacturer Redback Technologies operates a little differently to Tesla. Their Australian made solar storage batteries are built to specifications and are delivered to our Cairns warehouse pre-built, configured and already in a neat and tidy battery cabinet.

Electrical work involving solar panel upgrades, switchboard upgrades or inverter replacement may push the solar battery prices in Cairns up.

Retrofit later?

According to reports by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the prices of a lithium-ion battery pack plunged by 87% from 2010 to 2019. As global supply chains continue to ramp up lithium production owing to heightened demand (also fuelled by electric vehicle uptake), possible price reductions are expected. But is it worthwhile for homeowners to wait for cheaper battery?

Well, the answer depends on a few factors, but from past experience, the cost of installing solar batteries in Cairns after “retrofitting” highly depends on the inverter used in the existing solar power system.

Ideally, most residential solar power systems are installed with AC-coupled inverters in which case an additional inverter would be required to re-convert the energy produced back to DC for storage and use by the solar batteries.

Ultimately, the retrofitted solar storage battery brings an additional cost of an extra inverter besides installation costs. Unless of course you choose to support local industry and buy Redback solar batteries for your home. Like I mentioned earlier, the whole system is pre-pared and ready for a simple install.

A solar system plus battery during initial installation will include a single DC-coupled inverter which reduces costs, converts and stores electricity more efficiently than AC-coupled energy solutions. It’s worth to note that some installers do not execute battery retrofits at the same time.

Currently, solar battery and inverter manufacturers are working around the clock to find more effective solutions to make retrofits easier, similar to what Australian made solar inverter manufacturer Redback Technologies have achieved this year with the new Redback product range. One such company is Enphase which recently unveiled a micro inverter solution that it claims can compatibly be retrofitted to any home power storage battery without requiring recoupling.

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