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Do solar panels need batteries?

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In principle, grid-connected photovoltaic systems (on-grid systems) do not need batteries to function. The electricity generated can be divided into self-consumption and feed-in. However, stand-alone PV systems (off-grid systems) require a battery because they are not connected to the public power grid. The application scenarios as well as advantages and disadvantages of both systems are discussed in the following article.

Do solar panels always need batteries to work?

Grid-connected photovoltaic systems (PV systems) or on-grid systems do not require batteries to function. If there is no battery or if the batteries are fully charged, the electricity generated can be fed into the public grid for a fee. Since the Swiss Energy Act leaves local energy suppliers (EVU) free to set their prices, the amount of the feed-in tariff can vary depending on the region and provider, from Rp 9.10 in Zurich to a total remuneration of Rp 20.71 per kilowatt hour in Zug.

When do you need to use solar panels with batteries?

Batteries are not absolutely necessary to operate functional PV systems. Nevertheless, there are some application examples where you cannot avoid battery storage.

1. PV island systems (off-grid systems)

PV island systems are by definition not tied to the local grid. A stationary battery is required so that you can still use the electricity you generate at a later point in time. The size of the battery depends on your needs. For this purpose, your individual daily requirement is calculated, which you need to operate all devices. In addition, autonomy days are taken into account when there is little solar radiation.

Note: Complete independence from the public power grid is unusual for private consumers. Rather, it is about creating more independence and generating cheaper, green electricity.

2. Portable Power Stations

Whether camping, adventure holidays or just more independence in everyday life - portable power stations are becoming increasingly popular with many different target groups. These are typically powerful lithium-ion batteries with a variety of ports to conveniently and easily charge electronic devices, from smartphones to refrigerators. Portable Power Stations are available in sets with solar panels to give users even more independence and flexibility.

3. Emergency generators

A battery is always necessary when users want to become independent of the power grid. With a battery and solar panels, users can keep their devices running despite a power outage. Some advanced power stations such as the EcoFlow DELTA Pro can even be connected directly to the power grid via a smart home module and take over the power supply of the house in the event of a power failure. This is especially useful for people who rely on medical devices like CPAP machines.

Advantages of solar panels with battery

  • Many application scenarios and target groups
  • More self-sufficiency from the power grid
  • Can be used as an emergency generator
  • Ideal for camping holidays
  • Electricity generated can be used free of charge
  • Remuneration for the electricity fed in
  • Cheap electricity costs

Disadvantages of solar panels with battery

  • Higher acquisition costs
  • Full self-sufficiency still unlikely
  • Battery size limits portability

When can you use solar panels without batteries?

While battery-powered systems provide more flexibility and independence from the power grid, there are also some use cases that do not require batteries

1. Grid-connected photovoltaic systems (on-grid systems)

In principle, grid-connected PV systems can do without batteries. In this case, the electricity generated is either used directly or fed into the public grid. The currently high electricity price in combination with the market price-oriented return delivery remuneration makes the investment particularly lucrative right now.

2. Hardly any electricity is needed at night

Solar modules depend on the exposure to sunlight. Anyone who does not have a battery available must use the electricity generated immediately or feed it into the grid, which reduces self-use. A PV system without a battery could therefore be primarily suitable for users who draw electricity during the day and hardly need it at night, such as employees working from home. In order to implement this option, the solar system must of course be large enough to supply the required electricity in real time.

3. Joining a power cloud

With the new possibilities for private consumers to generate green and free solar power, new possibilities for public power supply have also opened up. A model that is already popular in Switzerland is power from the cloud. An analysis by SwissEnergy had already shown in 2019 that virtual electricity storage makes more ecological and economic sense than physical battery systems. These new models work on the principle of electricity sharing, which means that electricity can be fed in as well as drawn off.

Advantages of solar panels without battery

  • Low initial investment
  • Remuneration for the electricity fed in
  • Cheap electricity costs

Disadvantages of solar panels without battery

  • Storage of own solar energy not possible
  • Ideally, most of the electricity should be used during the day
  • Generated electricity must be consumed in real time
  • Fewer application scenarios than with battery storage

Conclusion: Batteries provide more flexibility and independence

Most users interested in installing a solar system will probably opt for their own battery storage. In times of rising energy prices, it makes sense to produce energy independently and free of charge and to store it safely in battery storage.

In addition, battery storage enables more independence from the power grid and can also function as an emergency power generator.Vacationers can easily transport their portable power stations, including foldable solar panels, in a camper van or car so that they can also spend their vacation independently of the power grid

Take a look at our Balcony Power Plants and Solar Sets to learn more. .