As more and more homeowners buy solar systems in the United States, sales reps may simultaneously find it easier and harder to sell solar—because what worked last year might not work this year. A great example of this is what is being dubbed The California Solar Recession. Now changes to legislation are posing new challenges for sales teams in different parts of the country; the good news is opportunities still exist in solar sales, with battery storage.
Why Do People Buy Solar Systems?
Before pitching solar batteries, sales reps need to be aware of the reasons why homeowners might be interested in a solar system; this helps them effectively build relationships with individual prospects.
Designing a system based on what’s most important to the customer while addressing energy consumption needs can lead to a win-win outcome for the homeowner, sales rep, and installer. This is essential for selling solar.
- Cost Savings: Lower energy bills over time
- Environmental Impact: Reduced carbon footprint and clean energy
- Long-Term Investment: Solid returns over panels’ 25-30+ year lifespan
- Property Value: Increased resale value and buyer attraction
- Government Incentives: Tax credits, rebates, grants
- Energy Independence: Reduced reliance on external sources
- Innovative Technology: Excitement about solar advancements
- Energy Efficiency: Lower overall energy consumption
- Remote Power: Provides electricity in off-grid locations
Do Solar Customers Need Battery Storage?
For many homeowners, installing a solar battery is not as cost-effective as selling excess energy back to the grid to offset their utility bills. However, as solar adoption increases and new laws (e.g. NEM 3.0) change how solar energy is bought and sold, solar batteries become the most cost-effective solution for maximizing savings on existing and new solar systems.
Sales teams who embrace change and see the opportunity can get a jump start on the increased demand for batteries. And, since the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is scheduled to exist in some form or another through 2034, solar batteries can likely be installed at a discount—an easier sell for the next decade.
9 Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Batteries
Many customers are most interested in the long-term cost-saving benefits of solar systems, which is why so many of their questions revolve around solar battery cost and expected efficiency. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions your sales reps will come across.
#1 How Much Do Solar Batteries Cost?
There are two main choices for solar batteries when it comes to residential properties, both of which may be ideal for a customer, depending on their unique household needs:
These are the most common type of solar batteries and tend to have a higher upfront cost but offer better performance and longer life spans compared to other battery types. On average, residential lithium-ion battery systems can range from $5,000 to $15,000 or more, depending on the capacity and brand.
These batteries are less expensive upfront but have shorter lifespans and higher maintenance requirements. Residential lead-acid battery systems can cost around $1,000 to $5,000, but keep in mind that they may need replacement sooner, potentially leading to higher long-term costs, depending on use.
#2 How Long Do Solar Batteries Last?
Solar battery lifespans typically range from five to fifteen years, with lithium-ion batteries being the most popular residential choice for lifespan, lasting around ten to fifteen years. Factors like depth of discharge, usage patterns, temperature, maintenance, and manufacturer quality influence how long a battery will last. Proper care and monitoring can help extend its lifespan.
Reps should be aware that the lifespan of a solar battery does not mean it becomes non-functional after that period. Instead, it refers to the point where the battery’s capacity has degraded to a certain level (often around 70-80% of its original capacity), which may no longer meet the energy storage needs. Some customers may choose to replace the battery at this point, while others may continue using it, opting to wait until the battery’s capacity is lower before replacement.
#3 How Much Energy Can a Solar Battery Store?
The amount of energy a solar battery can store depends on its capacity, which is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) (see next question). The capacity of a solar battery can vary widely based on its size, technology, and manufacturer. Residential solar battery systems typically range from around 1 kWh to several tens of kWh in capacity.
Smaller residential batteries might have capacities ranging from 1 kWh to 5 kWh. These batteries are often used to store excess energy generated during the day for limited use during the evening or in case of power outages.
Medium-sized batteries could have capacities between 5 kWh and 20 kWh. These systems can provide more backup power and store a significant amount of excess solar energy, for longer power outages or higher energy demand.
Larger residential or commercial batteries can have capacities exceeding 20 kWh and can even go up to several hundred kWh. These systems are suitable for larger homes, businesses, and properties with higher energy consumption.
It’s important to note that the capacity of a solar battery determines how much energy it can store and discharge. The battery’s capacity, along with the power output it can provide (measured in kilowatts), determines how many appliances and for how long the battery can supply power during an outage or when the solar panels aren’t producing energy.
When considering a solar panel battery, homeowners should evaluate their energy usage patterns, the size of their solar panel system, and their specific backup power needs to determine the appropriate battery capacity for their situation. Taking your time to understand the household can help sales reps make an informed decision about the right battery size for their customer’s needs.
#4 What Is a Kilowatt-Hour (kWh)?
A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit of energy commonly used to measure electricity consumption or production over time. It represents the amount of energy used or generated when a device with a power rating of one kilowatt (1 kW) operates continuously for one hour.
So, if you have a device that consumes 1 kilowatt of power and you let it run for an hour, it will consume 1 kilowatt-hour of energy. Similarly, if you have a solar panel system that generates 1 kilowatt of power and it operates for an hour, it will produce 1 kilowatt-hour of energy.
The kilowatt-hour is a fundamental unit for measuring and billing electricity usage. A customer’s monthly electricity bill is often based on the total number of kilowatt-hours of electricity they consume during a billing period. It’s a way to quantify the amount of energy used or generated and helps individuals, businesses, and utility companies manage energy resources and costs.
#5 How Much Energy Is Typically Generated by a Solar System?
Solar panel systems are rated in kilowatts (kW), which represents the energy they can generate during one hour of peak sunlight. For instance, a 10 kW solar system can ideally produce 10 kWh of electricity per hour. Given that conditions are not always perfect, a performance ratio of 75% is typically considered.
The average daily peak sunlight hours range from 3.5 to 5.5 across the US. To determine the daily output of a solar system, multiply its capacity by the sunlight hours and the 0.75 performance ratio.
For instance, calculating the daily output of a 10 kW solar system receiving 5.5 peak sunlight hours per day would be:
10 kW solar system x 5.5 sunlight hours per day x 0.75 performance ratio = 41.25 kWh per day
In most cases, this output is ample for powering essential electrical systems and replenishing several 10 kW batteries for overnight use. However, electricity requirements differ from one household to another so be weary of making specific promises to customers.
#6 How Will a Solar Battery Affect Energy Bills?
Energy billing needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis because of the many variables involved, but here are some reasons why your customers will see their energy bill decrease:
When your solar panels generate more electricity than your home is using, the excess energy can be stored in the solar battery instead of being sent back to the grid. This stored energy can then be used when the sun isn’t shining, such as during the evening or on cloudy days.
Many utility companies have time-of-use pricing, where electricity is more expensive during peak hours. A solar battery allows you to store energy during off-peak hours when rates are lower and use that stored energy during peak hours to avoid higher costs.
Reduced Grid Dependence
With a solar battery, you can draw from your stored energy during times when your solar panels aren’t producing enough electricity, such as at night. This reduces your need to purchase electricity from the grid, leading to lower energy bills.
Backup Power During Outages
Solar batteries can provide backup power during grid outages, ensuring that essential appliances continue to function. This can prevent the need to rely on expensive and polluting backup generators.
By storing excess solar energy for your own use, you can increase your self-consumption rate, which measures how much of the solar energy you generate is actually used within your home. This can further reduce your need to buy from the grid.
#7 Can a Solar Battery Power the Whole Home?
The short answer is yes, however, even a fully charged solar battery may not be able to power a residential home that has AC running for an entire night (installing a battery with a large capacity is important if HVAC needs to be running since most AC units use 3 kWh per hour). And, if the battery is depleted to low levels on a regular (nightly) basis, this will shorten the lifespan.
Being aware of how the battery is intended to be used and for how long is extremely important in meeting customer needs and desires. Whether a solar battery storage solution is cost-effective depends on how often it is used, how quickly it is depleted, how far it is depleted, whether or not there is any reliance on the traditional power grid, and if weather/sun conditions are consistent.
#8 What Happens During Power Outages?
In the event of a power outage, provided your home battery is fully charged, you can utilize a significant portion of the stored kWh of energy.
However, you should reserve a minimum charge of 5-10% in the battery for a couple of reasons:
- For the overall health and longevity of the battery
- So the solar inverters can start in the morning and recharge the battery using solar energy
The advantage of combining solar panels with battery storage lies in the creation of a personal, miniature power source for your home. This becomes particularly valuable in extended power outages of up to three days. Without battery storage, utility companies may disable your solar system to protect workers repairing the grid from potential electricity backflow. However, with battery storage, your system can operate even when the grid is offline.
#9 Will the Battery System Work with Existing Solar Panels?
Most existing solar panels can be attached to a battery, but the costs will vary depending on how the original system was installed. A new inverter/converter may be needed in addition to the battery, as well as wiring, which will result in labor charges when installed professionally.
Overall, this is great news for sales reps looking for opportunities in solar-heavy markets with many existing systems. Homeowners with panels are already sold on solar, and they will likely benefit from a battery, which makes them ideal customers for new storage solutions.
How Solar Sales Teams Can Sell More Batteries
The sales teams that will see the most success in the solar industry are the ones that showcase their knowledge, expertise, and products in the most convincing way. Customers expect efficiency and competency when investing thousands of dollars into a solar system.
Designing and installing solar systems in tandem with the homeowner is essential for success, and pitching batteries is made easier with cutting-edge solar sales tools. SalesRabbit gives teams everything they need to find and close more deals in any market.