Batteries are becoming a popular add-on to solar systems thanks to the extra benefits they can offer for solar system buyers. Batteries offer backup power benefits when the grid goes down, increase off-grid systems' usefulness, and improve solar economics if you have less than ideal net metering policies or time-of-use (TOU) rates.
With increasing companies offering storage options, more questions are arising about how to compare the batteries: which is the best, or which one is right for you? One of the most important factors to consider when shopping for battery backup for your home is the depth of discharge (DoD).
Depth of discharge (DoD) indicates the percentage of the battery that has been discharged relative to the overall capacity of the battery.
A battery's "cyclic life" is the number of charge/discharge cycles in its useful life.
Storing your battery in mild temperatures can prolong its life.
Use the EnergySage Marketplace to compare quotes for solar-plus-storage systems.
A battery's depth of discharge (DoD) indicates the percentage of the battery that has been discharged relative to the overall capacity of the battery. For example, if you have an LG Chem RESU holding 9.3 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and discharge 8.8 kWh, the DoD is approximately 95 percent.
The more frequently a battery is charged and discharged; its lifespan will be shorter. It's generally not recommended to discharge a battery entirely, as that dramatically shortens the battery's useful life. Many battery manufacturers specify a maximum recommended DoD for optimal battery performance.
For example, if a 10 kWh battery manufacturer recommends a maximum DoD of 80 percent, you shouldn't use more than 8 kWh from the battery without recharging. You can see why DoD is an important factor to consider: a higher DoD means you can use more energy stored in your battery. Many modern lithium-ion batteries these days advertise a DoD of 100 percent.
Your battery's "cyclic life," or the number of charge/discharge cycles in its useful life, depends on how much of the battery's capacity you normally use. If you regularly discharge the batteries at a lower percentage amount, it will have more useful cycles than if you frequently drain the battery to its maximum DoD. For example, a battery may have 15,000 cycles at a DoD of 10 percent but only 3,000 cycles at 80 percent DoD.
Below is a table of some of the more popular battery options, as well as the suggested maximum DoD as given on the product's detailed specification sheets:
DoD of popular home battery options
Size (total Energy, K Wh)
Depth Of Discharge (Do D)
Maximum Discharge Before Recharging (k Wh)
|LG Chem RESU||9.3||95%||8.8|
* These manufacturers produce batteries of different sizing/capacity, only one of which is listed in this chart.
Most solar batteries are guaranteed to last between five to 15 years. This partially depends on how often the battery is discharged and the number of cycles it's gone through, but other things have a big impact.
Another factor affecting the lifetime of your battery is how well you maintain it and, more particularly, the temperature it's kept in. Batteries in a hot atmosphere (over 90 degrees F) may overheat, which shortens the battery's lifetime. Very cold temperatures also have a negative impact on the battery because it has to work harder and at a higher voltage to charge. To maximize your battery's useful life, keep it in a relatively mild environment – not too hot and not too cold.
Depth of discharge is important when comparing battery options, but it isn't the only factor to evaluate.
Outside of DoD and costs, one of the most important things to consider is whether the battery will fit your particular situation. A small battery will be less expensive but works best if you are trying to reduce demand charges or avoid costly time-of-use rates. If you're looking to go off the grid, you'll need batteries that can store as much energy as possible (or multiple smaller batteries stacked on top of one another). Homeowners who experience frequent (and long) power outages may also consider getting a large battery for peace of mind.
With any large purchase like solar and batteries (paired or separately), you want to consider your options. You can sign up on the EnergySage Marketplace to receive turnkey quotes for solar installation from pre-screened local solar installers. If battery storage is something you're interested in pairing with your system, we recommend adding a note in your account preferences specifying you're interested in pricing and information about batteries. Even if a solar installer doesn't install batteries themselves, they can design a solar panel system so that you can add a battery later down the line.