Serviceability for home batteries: What does it mean?
If you're considering purchasing a solar-plus-storage system, you're probably contemplating the "what ifs": what if my battery isn't performing properly? What if my battery stops working altogether? The good news is that battery technology is highly reliable, which is why it's sometimes difficult to find answers to these questions. In this article, we'll cover some common questions you may have about solar batteries to help you make an informed decision about including storage with your solar system.
Battery technology is highly reliable, so breakdowns are uncommon.
If you experience issues with your battery, first call your installer to ensure it's not a problem with your solar panels, inverters, or other system components.
Some issues can be fixed onsite, especially if your battery is modular; however, if your battery is defective, it will need to be shipped to the manufacturer.
Battery warranties typically don't cover shipping costs.
Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to get free quotes for solar-plus-storage systems.
Solar batteries today are usually equipped with battery management systems, which help the battery self-regulate so that it doesn't exceed its rated specifications. This ensures that the batteries perform well and also helps to limit degradation over time. Additionally, battery management systems make it easy to monitor your battery's performance, usually through an app. Because of this, most solar batteries don't require much general maintenance. Batteries also have to undergo meticulous testing before they are approved, which improves their reliability and makes general breakdowns uncommon.
Note: How you use your battery can affect its lifetime and performance. If you'd like to read more about usage considerations for solar batteries, check out this article on our blog!
Because batteries today are so reliable, problems related to the battery are usually a result of either a problem elsewhere in the solar panel system or in the battery being at the end of its life. Most commonly, poor battery performance is due to wiring issues or an issue with the battery's inverter. Problems can also arise if the battery is not used as intended (i.e., overloaded), so be sure to go over the manufacturer's specifications and discuss how you intend to use your battery with your installer.
If you do experience a problem, first reach out to your installer so that they can check to see if they can determine the cause of your battery's performance issues. If the problem is due to the battery inverter or battery pack, what happens next will depend on the battery's configuration. Some batteries are modular, meaning they can be easily separated into different components. This is advantageous during repairs because the entire system will not need to be shipped back to the manufacturer. Depending on the issue, your storage system may be able to continue operating at a lower capacity while you await the replacement part.
If your battery is not modular, it will need to be shipped off-site for repairs or a replacement. This can present a difficult situation because lithium-ion batteries are considered HAZMAT–hazardous materials–and thus, the Department of Transportation enforces strict shipping requirements. While your installer may not be certified to ship your battery themselves, they can typically work with the manufacturer to find a solution. Because battery warranties typically don't cover shipping costs, this process can be expensive, and it will also leave you without a battery until you can get a replacement. To mitigate the effects of losing your battery unexpectedly, be sure to monitor your battery's performance relative to its warranty.
Battery warranties guarantee a level of performance in several key metrics over time. Most warranties cover the cycles a battery can handle in its lifetime, the total energy that the battery is expected to deliver, the percentage of the total battery capacity at the end of the warranty period, and the number of years that the battery is expected to operate. When working with your installer to plan out your battery storage system, it is important that you review the warranty and the expected years that the battery can operate so that you can plan a replacement when the battery is at the end of its life!
Interested in learning more about battery product specifications and warranties? Head over to our EnergySage Buyer's Guide, where you can compare different types of equipment based on efficiencies, warranties, and more. Choosing a reliable installer can significantly reduce your risk of encountering battery issues down the line–if you're interested in getting quotes on a solar-plus-storage system from pre-vetted local installers, sign up on the EnergySage Marketplace to receive free online quotes and free advice from our team of Energy Advisors.