Solar energy and solar batteries are on the rise, and an increasing number of homeowners and businesses across the nation are choosing to invest in this clean, renewable energy source. At Boston Solar, we regularly meet Massachusetts residents who have questions about installing solar with backup power, and with all the buzz over the Tesla solar battery product Tesla Powerwall and solar-plus-storage so often in headlines, those questions are often about solar batteries.
Is a solar battery worth the upfront cost, and what are the benefits of adding batteries for a solar panel system, such as with Tesla Powerwall? As Boston Solar is a Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer, we will outline how energy storage works, its benefits, and new financial incentives available that make solar+storage more accessible and affordable than ever.
How Solar Battery Storage Works
A conventional grid-tied solar PV system produces energy for your home and then sends any excess energy that your system generates back into the power grid, where you would then receive a net metering credit. When your system isn’t producing enough electricity for your energy needs, you would use electricity from the grid, like at night.
With solar battery storage, like Tesla Powerwall, you can store your excess solar energy generated during the day for later use at any time. During the day, the sun shines on your solar panels, and your excess energy charges your battery. At night, your home draws electricity from your battery, powering your home with clean, sustainable energy. This is an especially great benefit if your local utility charges more for electricity used in the evenings or other peak times when you may not be producing sufficient solar energy.
So, what are the other benefits of solar battery storage?
The Benefits of Solar Battery Storage in Massachusetts
Greater Energy Independence
By adding solar battery storage to your solar system, you’re taking your energy independence that much further and owning the majority of your energy production 24/7. A Tesla Powerwall solar battery (or any other solar battery) stores your solar energy so you can use it on demand and self-power your home or business even when the sun is down, reducing your reliance on the electricity grid.
Power During Outages
In the event of a power outage or power surge, solar panels themselves won’t keep your lights on, as they need to be turned off for grid safety. With solar plus a battery system, you won’t be left in the dark. Your home can be protected with an automatic power backup that continues to operate during an outage. With Tesla Powerwall or another solar battery system, you are assured of energy security to keep your essential energy loads running when the grid is down.
Lower or Eliminate Your Electricity Bill
We’ve talked a lot previously about how solar can save you on your energy bills. When you install solar, you generate your own electricity, lowering how much you would pay your utility company for your energy needs. With solar + storage, you’ll be relying on your own self-powered energy even further and can use your backup power that has been stored when your solar panels aren’t generating electricity, such as at night, so you may never have to pay for grid-generated electricity again.
A key thing to remember here is that your system will remain tied to the grid, even with battery storage. This allows you to draw power from the grid as needed when battery storage is not sufficient enough to meet your energy needs.
Valuable Financial Incentives for Battery Storage
As the market for solar+storage evolves, there are valuable financial incentives for solar batteries, including Tesla Powerwall, here in Massachusetts.
SMART Solar Batteries Incentives
Already available to Massachusetts homeowners and business owners is the SMART solar incentive program. But did you know that you can receive SMART savings when you add a solar battery to your solar energy system? Open to all SMART solar participants, both residential and commercial, if you add a solar battery with your solar PV system, you could save around $4500 on the costs of your entire solar installation.
ConnectedSolutions Solar Battery Incentives
In addition to SMART, Massachusetts recently became the first state to make battery storage eligible for energy efficiency incentives. Under these solar battery incentives, you can install a solar battery and sign up for a five-year contract with your utility—essentially a “bring your own battery” incentive. This is a pilot program called the ConnectedSolutions’ incentive program sponsored by utilities National Grid and Eversource, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). It’s available for residential and business customers and Tesla Powerwall is a qualifying solar battery for the program. The program will help reduce utilities' electricity load during peak demand times by drawing on “discharge events'' from battery storage systems.
At the end of each summer or winter season, battery storage owners will be compensated by the utility based on the average discharged kW multiplied by the incentive rate - a total savings of up to $1,500 a year.
For residential customers, the incentive rates are $225 per average kW in the summer and $50 per average kW in the winter season. For example, if your battery system was used in 30 discharge events during a summer season, averaging 4 kW discharge rate, your incentive compensation would be $900!
4 kW x $255 = $900 back in your pocket!
Massachusetts HEAT Loans For Solar Battery Installations
Looking for financing options to take advantage of the new solar battery incentive? Well, Massachusetts’ new ConnectedSolutions plan also makes HEAT loans available to customers who are looking to purchase battery storage. A HEAT loan is a zero-interest, seven-year loan sponsored by the Mass Save® program. It may be used for battery-only sales or for solar-plus-battery sales, but the loan itself is eligible only for the battery portion of any sale.
Federal Solar Tax Credit
At the federal level, your solar battery could also be eligible for the solar tax credit along with the rest of your system—as long as your battery is charged predominantly by your solar panels. Thanks to a recent extension, installing your solar+storage system before the end of 2022 will still qualify you for the 26% solar tax credit before it starts to decline in 2023.
How Much Can You Save with Solar + Battery Storage?
Let’s look at an example: If your solar energy system and one Tesla Powerwall costs approximately $45,000, almost 60% of the costs of going solar would be incentivized under Massachusetts’ SMART program, the ConnectedSolutions program, and the Federal and State Solar Tax Credits. That’s a savings of over $27,000 on the cost of installing a solar PV system with a Tesla home battery!
Here are some Boston Solar customers, John and Carolyn Fryer, pictured before their new Tesla Powerwall was installed:
So, Is Solar Battery Storage Right for You?
If you’re interested in installing a combined solar plus battery storage system and wondering if this is the right decision for you, talk to Massachusetts’ trusted solar contractor, Boston Solar. We can help you determine if solar energy storage makes sense for you by walking you through solar battery options, like Tesla Powerwall, with your unique energy needs (like electric vehicle charging) and the right amount of solar panels on your roof or property.
Wondering if adding solar battery storage will be right for your solar investment? Call 617-858-1645 or contact us to schedule a consultation!