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How much do batteries cost?

Last updated 6/9/2021

Although most people install storage for the resilience benefit, as opposed to the financial benefits, that doesn’t mean storage costs are insignificant. In fact, depending upon the size of your solar and storage install, batteries can increase the cost of the overall installation significantly, sometimes even doubling the cost of a solar panel installation. As you consider whether or not to install energy storage, it’s important to consider the costs of batteries, as well as the two primary factors that influence those costs. 

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Factors that influence energy storage cost: equipment

There are a few key factors that determine how much your energy storage system will cost: the equipment you install, the electrical work required for your installation, and even where you find your installer. 

Perhaps the biggest factor in the cost of a battery installation is the equipment itself: what battery are you installing and how many of them do you need; what chemistry does it use to store energy and does it have its own inverter?

equipment factors that influence the cost of energy storage

Equipment factor 1: the quality of your batteries

Similar to solar costs, the first thing to consider with the batteries you’re installing is the quality of the product you select. While all storage products on the market today meet rigorous safety testing requirements, there can still be variations in the overall quality of the energy storage systems and you’re likely to pay more for higher quality products.

Equipment factor 2: the number of batteries you need

Each storage installation is unique and everyone’s storage needs are different. For the most part, storage system sizing is less flexible than with solar panel systems. It’s easy to add or subtract a single solar panel from a system design to finely tune the capacity of the install; however, with most solutions on the market, it’s difficult to finely tune the size of battery you install. As a result, the cost of storage will vary significantly depending on the kilowatt-hours of energy you need to store and, thus, the number of batteries you install.

Equipment factor 3: the chemistry of your battery

There are a few different types of batteries available for home and business owners on the market today, though the most common ones typically use some form of lithium ion chemistry to store electricity. The two most common types of lithium ion batteries are nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP). Each chemistry has different characteristics–NMC batteries tend to be more power dense while LFP batteries tend to last longer–which also means they come at different costs. On EnergySage, LFP batteries are often 30-50% more expensive than NMC batteries. 

Equipment factor 4: does your battery have its own inverter?

Batteries store direct current (DC) electricity, but your home or business uses alternating current (AC) electricity, so you’ll need an inverter to convert the electricity that’s stored in your battery to usable AC electricity. Some batteries come with their own hybrid solar-plus-storage or storage-specific inverter. But if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to also purchase an inverter–or already have one–that can convert your stored energy into AC electricity, adding a cost to the overall system.

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Factors that influence energy storage cost: equipment

While equipment costs typically account for 50-60% of the cost of an energy storage system, the installation itself–i.e., the amount of electrical work required and where you find your installer–also plays a large role in the overall cost of the system.

installation factors that influence the cost of energy storage

Installation factor 1: retrofit vs. new solar and storage

Energy storage installations require a significant amount of electrical work, and a not insignificant amount of time from your installer. As a result, if you install storage concurrently with solar, you’ll see some time efficiencies and cost savings by having all of the electrical work done at the same time and by not requiring your installer to make additional trips.

Installation factor 2: critical load panels

Most storage solutions on the market today aren’t large enough to cover every load in your home, meaning you’ll have to pull certain circuits onto a critical load panel. A critical load panel is like a secondary electrical panel where you put all of your essential circuits that you want to remain energized in the event of an outage. While the critical load panel itself isn’t particularly expensive, the electrical work required to install one can add up quickly.

Bonus factor: smart electrical panels

If you’re going to have electricians pulling circuits during a storage install anyways, why not go the next step and install a smart electrical panel to get the most out of your storage system? A number of manufacturers now offer smart electrical panels that provide circuit-level monitoring and controls, leading to increased flexibility with how you use your solar and storage installation.

Smart electrical panels are certainly more expensive than a critical loads panel; however, the flexibility they provide in your ability to get the most out of your storage installation make them a no-brainer in most cases. Why would you decide today which appliances and circuits you want to back up for the next ten years when a smart electric panel allows you to update those preferences in real time? 

Equipment factor 3: where you find your installer

There’s no one-size-fits-all storage solution. With that in mind, it’s important to get multiple quotes to compare the same way you’d compare prices for other major purchases: solar, cars, home appliances, a new HVAC system, you name it. 

When you find your solar plus storage installer through EnergySage’s online quote comparison platform, you’ll pay less for solar and storage. Sign up for an account today to see how much EnergySage can save you!

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