Pros and Cons of Battery Backup PV Systems

    Pros and Cons of Battery Backup PV Systems
    Pros and Cons of Battery Backup PV Systems
    Pros and Cons of Battery Backup PV Systems

    Since PV systems produce electricity directly from sunlight and maximize the efficiency of energy collection, it may seem like adding or choosing a PV system with battery backup would only increase stability and add value to the investment, but will it?

    Here are the facts to help you decide.

    Understanding the factors that impact PV system performance is crucial. Three major factors are:

    1. Temperature
    2. The amount of sun “peak hours” seasonally and regionally
    3. The efficiency of your inverter and/or charge controller.

    In this instance, simply knowing the best-case scenario for your PV system, based on regional location data will help you maximize efficiency without added expenses.

    PV System Options and Advantages

    There are four PV system options:

    1. Grid-Tie with battery back up
    2. Grid -Tie (battery free)
    3. Off-Grid/ Stand Alone
    4. PV Direct 

    The most obvious advantage to adding a battery backup system (Grid-Tie with battery backup or Off-Grid) is the assurance of power during an outage. So in areas where power outages are frequent or extended in duration it is relevant to compare the need against the additional cost and maintenance.

    The Green Variable

    Concerns over climate change may also prove to be an influential factor for the Grid Free/Stand Alone option. It is important to note that PV systems in general offer a tremendous reduction in utility dependency and that battery backup systems can add as much as 25 % in residential costs while producing 7-10 % less energy than the Grid-Tie option.

    The Final Analysis

    Solar photovoltaic experts presently agree that adding a backup battery system should only be considered for use in remote locations with limited utility access or where power outages are frequent and long lasting. 

    PV Systems

    Pros +

    Cons -

    Approx. Cost
    (before rebates, tax credits, etc.)

    Grid-tie with Battery Backup• Can provide power to designated appliances (i.e. refrigerator or server)
    • Sends excess energy back into power grid for credits
    • Stores energy for use during an outage
    • Increase in cost
    • Complex
    • Increase in maintenance
    • Decrease in savings credits
    $6-10 per watt or $6,000 - $10,000 per KW
    Grid-tie w/out Batteries• Simple
    • Cost effective
    • Lower maintenance
    • Stores Energy through “Net Metering”
    • Excess Energy is sent back into the utility provided power grid for credits and refunds
    • No back up during an outage even when the sun is shining$4-6 per watt or $4,000 - $6,000 per KW
    Off Grid/ Stand alone• Eliminates utility dependency
    • Works with wind or hydro power renewable energy generators 
    • Increase in cost
    • Complex
    • Increase in maintenance
    • Less efficient
    $9-$15+ per watt or $9,000 - $15,000+ per KW
    PV Direct*• Simple
    • Connects directly to motor or pump
    • Low maintenance 
    • Limited usage
    • Does not create energy surplus 
    < $2/watt*

    * Limited use for direct connect PV panels - usually only for water pumping


    Thanks for this article.  In regards to battery back-up, sometimes the term Grid Assisted is used.  What does this refer to?

    9 years 10 months ago
    Written by
    Support topic
    Finance and Regulation
    License and permit
    Support keywords
    off grid
    battery backup