The answer is no, but before you decide what to buy, consider the long-term pros and cons.
We recently got a question from a friend in Arlington: He had started seeing ads on TV showing home battery systems available through a well-known generator brand, and wondered about the pros or cons of going that route.
He was also wondering about some of the claims, and disclaimers, in the ad. Here are some tips to keep in mind before you go out and get a battery to store grid power, instead of going solar and choosing a storage device from a company that specializes in them.
Don’t miss out on the tax credit
Homeowners who’re getting a new solar installation done typically qualify for a tax credit, currently worth 26% of the system cost as well as other related qualifying costs. That can include roof repair in the section of the roof where the panels will go, tree removal to remove shading, and even a home battery system set up to store the solar power. However, if your storage system installation isn’t going to include solar panels going up at the same time, don’t expect any tax incentives.
IRS guidelines are fairly specific that while energy storage that’s part of the buyer’s same solar energy installation contract is eligible for federal tax credit, if there’s no solar on the building or even if it was installed in a previous year, it’s not supposed to qualify. Storing grid energy isn’t what the tax credit was written to incent. Your tax preparer can help you navigate this issue and any state tax credits that may apply, however based on our experience with storage customers in the past we encourage caution!
Storage without solar is unlikely to yield savings
The return on your solar investment comes from having solar or having solar+storage, not from having storage alone. The point is getting energy from a source that’s cheaper than the grid, and that’s how using solar to replace some of your utility energy yields immediate and long-term savings. With a 10 year warranty on the top energy storage system brands, that’s a solid lifespan for reliable, proven backup power that adds flexibility to your solar and allows true 24-7 clean energy use.
Unless your electric utility cares when you use electricity as to what rate you’re charged, a rate plan called dynamic pricing or time-of-use metering, it probably doesn’t matter to you financially whether you’re using power directly off the grid in real time or using grid power saved in a battery system – it was drawn from the grid at the same price at some point before.
Don’t set yourself up with a less-than-ideal piecemeal system
You deserve a complete, integrated solar, storage and EV experience. Why use a storage system that doesn’t won’t play nicely with your car and solar? With Tesla’s products, Powerwall, vehicle charging, and solar inverter (which reports your usage and production) can be integrated into one app, giving you an interface that seamlessly and comprehensively details your sustainable energy lifestyle and can be programmed, or automated, according to your preferences. Other storage brands won’t allow you to see this complete picture.
Perpetual power, with an unlimited resource
We know folks tend to trust the known backup power brands that have been around a long time. But it’s a new day in the world of energy resilience. There’s definitely a place for a home backup generator that uses natural gas or propane. We’re not here to tell you not to get a traditional generator for electric outages if you need a whole home solution. But you’d have to be OK with burning a fossil fuel source, that you have to pay for per unit, that is subject to a potential price spike or shortage or service interruption, and can be noisy and produces exhaust that may bother your neighbors.
But once you determine you want to back up essential circuits in your home with solar and storage, you’ll want to consult with companies in your local area that offer the ideal package of products and have experience installing and configuring them to meet your needs. Ipsun is a Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer and often installs between 2 and 6 Powerwalls at a given location depending on energy usage. Choose solar plus storage, and when your street goes dark, not only will you have critical appliances and lights on, it will be using a power source that perpetually recharges from the sun daily.