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Domestic battery storage is a rapidly evolving technology that is typically used alongside solar PV. (It can also be used with a domestic wind turbine, but we’re focusing on solar in this guide.) It allows surplus electricity generated by solar panels to be stored for later use rather than exported to the National Grid.
If you have solar PV you can generate plenty of electricity when the sun is shining. But on overcast days you’ll make less, and you’ll make none at all at night. This generation pattern often doesn’t match up with when households want to use electricity - it’s at night when you want the lights on and to use appliances like a dishwasher or TV.
If your solar panels generate electricity and you don’t use it, it ends up being fed into the National Grid. You may get paid for it, but not as much as you save if you use the power yourself.
This is where battery storage comes in. If you can store the electricity generated during the day, there is less need to consume electricity – e.g. run your washing machine – when the sun is shining and you’ll use more of the power you generate and save money.
A generator is your backup plan for those days when there isn’t enough natural light around to generate enough solar energy for your needs.
Not every solar power system will need a generator. They are mainly for situations where energy is required regardless of the conditions. If you’re living or working in the property and absolutely must have power, a generator is a viable backup solution to keep batteries charged.
You could use a wind turbine as a secondary power source but in situations where that isn’t practical or possible, a generator is the next best option.