Yes, solar panels can function efficiently without batteries. About the worthiness of such a setup highly depends on several factors.
Let’s dive deeper into that.
What is the use of a battery in the solar panel setup?
Before we determine the worthiness of a battery in this setup, it would be best if we understand its role first.
Batteries are connected to a charge controller that connects to the panel, while the other terminals are connected to the inverter, which inverts the current and later outputs it.
Essentially, it is designed to store the excess power generated by the solar panel, which can be drawn at night or on a cloudy day.
Actually, you can power the entire home with the panel even at night with batteries of a higher capacity.
What is the difference between the off-grid and on-grid solar panel setup?
The necessity of the battery highly depends if you have an off-grid or on-grid setup. So what do they mean?
The off-grind setup means that you are not connected to the primary grid. That is, you are wholly reliant on the sun and energy stored in the batteries to power your business or household items.
In other words, off-grid means that you will not have mains electricity. Consequently, on a cloudy day or at night, you can only draw the power stored by the batteries or have to stay in the dark.
On-grid setup is the opposite of the off-grid. On-grid, also known as the tied-grid, connects to the leading electricity. This setup is designed to use the solar panel, and when you cannot use it anymore, you can draw power from the mains’ electricity.
As a result, on a cloudy day or at night when the panel is not generating any power, the power stored in the batteries is used, or the power is drawn from the mains electricity.
Is it worth getting solar panels without a battery?
Well, now we can answer your question.
If you have an off-grid, then a battery is a must-have item if you are not ready to live in the darkness.
Let’s assume that you do not have a battery, all the power generated is consumed directly, and there is no space to store the excess power. In other words, for you to use the solar panel, there must be solar energy to generate power.
What about at night or on a highly cloudy day? Well, your guess was correct. There will be no power generated, which means no lighting or power for your appliances because there was no power stored.
Also, since the setup cannot draw power from the mains, you will not have a power source. That can be really frustrating, especially if the solar panel is the primary power source.
On the other hand, getting solar panels without batteries can be worth it if you have an on-grid setup.
Let’s assume that you have an on-grid setup but without a battery.
Like before, the power generated by the panel will be consumed directly.
However, you will not have to stop your business or stay in the dark at night or on a cloudy day. Why? Power will be drawn from the primary grid when the panel cannot generate power. Therefore, you will have a consistent power supply.
To conclude, you can only get a solar panel without batteries only if the solar panel is not the primary source of power in your home or business.
Can you run off-grid solar without batteries?
You can run an off-grid solar without batteries, but it is not a reliable setup.
Let me explain!
Solar panels do not rely on a storage battery to function. They can be connected directly to an inverter which outputs the power.
Since the solar panels use the sun’s energy to generate power and have an off-grid setup, you will not have a power source at night or on a cloudy day.
In other words, an off-grid setup without batteries is not a reliable source of power. Hence it is not worth it.
However, as we earlier said, you can opt for an on-grid setup if you are unwilling to incur the enormous expenses of purchasing or maintaining a solar battery.
Assuming that you have an on-grid setup, you will have the advantage of using the mains’ electricity if the solar panel is incapable of supplying power, especially at night.
You have all the details at your fingertips, make your decision wisely, or you will have yourself to blame.
Is it better to have more solar panels or more batteries?
There are indisputable advantages of having more panels or more batteries. Thus, the correct answer to our question highly depends on your needs.
For instance, having more solar panels means you have a higher power production, which increases your energy independence by reducing reliance on the grid, especially if you have a higher capacity battery.
Similarly, purchasing more batteries would mean that you have blackout protection, keeping all your critical appliances such as refrigerators secure.
Additionally, more batteries imply that you can store excess power, especially in sunny seasons. As a result, you can use the stored power during peak evenings or even sell the power back to the primary grid, which can be a source of income.
I am sorry if you are already in a dilemma. Let me help you out!
You can have more solar panels if you want to increase power production. That means, the inverter and other critical components can deal with high amounts of power.
Further, if you have a battery in the setup, you must also ensure that it has a higher storage capacity to store all the power generated.
Similarly, you can purchase more batteries if the solar panels produce more power than the current battery set can store.
Simply, you should consider purchasing more batteries only if the panels generate more power and the battery capacity is limited.
Eng. Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar.
After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as a Solar Electrical Engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies.
He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research.
He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website.
Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.