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Five questions before you buy a battery

From accelerating Australia’s renewable energy transition, to saving on your energy bills, from back-up energy storage to outage protection and greater energy independence - there’s a ton of reasons why batteries are a brilliant and worthwhile addition to your home energy set-up.

Aussies are increasingly signing up to take advantage of batteries’ benefits. In 2020, 23,796 Australian homes installed a battery, according to the Clean Energy Council. Meanwhile, some 21 percent of Aussies say they are interested in buying a battery in the future, reports Energy Consumers Australia.

“Combining a battery with a solar system is the best way to maximise savings. Solar energy used to charge your battery during the day can be used in the evening - reducing the amount of energy you consume from the grid when prices tend to be highest,” says Amber Energy Optimisation Analyst, Aleksis.

“If you don’t use a huge amount of energy and your solar system is big enough, it’s possible that adding a battery means you don’t need to import energy from the grid on most days - reducing your energy costs to zero (excluding fixed costs, such as daily supply charges).”

As Independent MP Dr Helen Haines said when she introduced her Cheaper Home Batteries Bill into parliament in February 2022, batteries can not only lower energy bills for all, but also support a smoother renewable transition.

After all, with thousands or millions of Aussie households exporting their home-generated green energy to the grid in times of peak demand, we can together create green alternatives to fossil-fuel generation - like the government’s recent declaration that it would develop a gas-fired power plant to fill the energy generation gap expected as a result of forthcoming coal plant closures.

Along the way, battery owners are helping to integrate a higher percentage of renewable energy into the grid, and will be helping to ensure we can all enjoy greater grid stability without costly network upgrades.

It’s a huge part of why we’re working hard on our SmartShift technology at Amber. SmartShift is all about helping people bring out the best in their battery, enjoying a faster payback and bigger climate impact, by automating their battery’s ability to charge and discharge in response to wholesale price signals.

Combine solar + a battery + Amber’s wholesale prices + SmartShift for a bigger climate and savings impact: 

  • You automatically charge your battery when prices in the electricity market fall (generally when more renewables are flooding into the grid).
  • You consume your battery’s energy and export your solar power - maximising returns and avoiding greater costs - when wholesale energy prices rise (generally when fossil fuels are meeting peak demand).

In January, we took a huge step forward in our mission to help more Aussies benefit from access to greener, cheaper energy - and accelerate our transition to 100% renewable energy in Australia - when we launched SmartShift to Amber customers everywhere after a successful trial in SA. Learn more about the launch in this article on One Step Off The Grid or if you're already a customer - sign-up for SmartShift here (it's free!).

The reality is that batteries promise the biggest pay off if you can tick certain boxes before you buy. Our Energy Optimisation Analyst Aleksis shared a few things to think about when you’re considering whether to invest in a battery.

Questions to help clarify if a battery is right for you:

  1. Do you consume all the energy that your solar system generates, or is there some leftover? To maximise the value you get from your battery investment, it’s best if your solar system is big enough to meet the energy needs of your house and also fully charge your battery during the day. This will allow you to offset peak wholesale prices in the evening (when your solar system stops generating) with your stored battery energy.
  1. Do you use the most energy during the day, or the evening? Electricity prices tend to be low during the middle of the day and high in the evening. If you mainly use energy during the middle of the day a battery might not save you much money because you’re already consuming when prices are low. However, if you mainly use energy in the evening a battery can help reduce the amount of energy you need to buy from the grid when prices are high, so potential savings a battery can deliver will be greater.
  1. Will you recoup the cost of the battery within the warranty period? Battery manufacturers often guarantee their products will retain some fixed percentage of the battery's initial energy capacity during the warranty period (e.g. 10 years). Ideally, for your battery investment to be worth it, savings generated over this warranty period (by offsetting the peak prices mentioned above by using your stored energy) should cover the cost of the device.
  1. Are you on a Time-of-Use (TOU) electricity tariff? If you decide to move ahead, it’s worth checking if you're on a Time-of-Use (TOU) tariff so you can make the most of variable prices throughout the day.
  1. How volatile are prices in your state? In general, potential savings delivered by a battery tend to be higher in states where wholesale electricity prices tend to be more volatile (e.g. South Australia) because batteries can earn more when prices move up and down quickly. Your battery can charge when electricity is cheap, and sell energy back to the grid when prices are high.

Already an Amber customer? We can do some of the heavy thinking for you

If you’re an Amber customer and want to know if a battery is right for you, you can find out more easily than ever with our free, personalised battery assessment (conducted by our energy data wizard, Aleksis).  

Leave it to Aleksis to analyse your load curve and tell you straight whether a battery is right for you - based on an assessment of the factors outlined above. If your answers to the questions above suggest a battery is well worth it for you but you still can’t afford the upfront cost, we’ll also share financing options. Drop us a line at smartshift@amber.com.au and we can book you in for an assessment.

Not yet an Amber customer but interested in a battery?

Join in February to be entered into the draw to win a Tesla Powerwall 2 and solar bundle, installed at your house for free. Once you’re a customer, recruit a mate using your unique referral code to up your chances of winning.

I'll leave you with these tweets from happy Amber customer who have linked their battery with our SmartShift tech. Thanks Pete and Scott! 

Check out Scott's full thread here.



Ali Lowe

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Content Manager

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