Solar panels still work even without a battery. Solar panels do not have to be connected to a battery or even an inverter to power an appliance. They can be connected directly to a device.
There are three ways in which you can use solar panels. The first is with solar panels only. The second is by pairing solar panels with an inverter. The third is when you have solar panels, an inverter, and batteries.
In this post, we will examine all three designs. We will look at when you would want to use each of them as well as the pros and cons of each system. If you have ever wondered what part an inverter or a battery plays in a solar energy system then read on because you are about to find out.
Can I use solar without a battery?
Solar can be used to generate electricity without the use of a battery. There are three ways to configure a solar system, two of which do not need a battery to function. Solar can be used to provide power directly or through an inverter.
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The cost of solar panels has fallen by 70% in the last ten years. Still, the cost of a complete solar system can run into the tens of thousands. Solar panels themselves are the cheapest component of a solar system. Batteries are the most expensive part of a large or medium-sized system.
In some cases, it makes sense not to get batteries or an inverter as part of a solar system. Fortunately, this is possible to do and can save thousands on the cost of going solar.
Also, find out “Will A Solar Panel Charge A Dead Battery? What You Need To Know!“
When Can You Use Solar without Batteries?
The electricity fed to your home is an alternating current. Most electrical appliances are AC appliances because they draw alternating currents. In an alternating current the current reverses its direction and changes magnitude. We use alternating current because it is more efficient to transmit over the long distances between power plants and end-users. (Source)
Direct current on the other hand flows in one direction. Solar panels produce direct current. What does this mean if you want to use solar panels directly? If you have not guessed already, this means if you want to use solar panels without an inverter or battery, you can only do so with appliances that run on direct current.
What type of appliances can you run on direct current? Most appliances like your television, refrigerator, or microwave take in alternating current and convert it to direct current. If that sounds strangely inefficient it is because it is inefficient. Many studies show that switching to direct current would be more efficient. (Source)
Some devices can be modified to work directly from DC. These include freezers, water pumps, alarms, lights, and many more. If you want to use solar without an inverter you can get appliances that run on DC or you can make modifications to the devices you want to use. An alternative to this is to get an inverter.
Can I Use a Solar Panel and Inverter without A Battery?
Solar panels with inverters can be used to power any appliance even without a battery. The battery is not a necessary part of a solar configuration. An inverter is a necessary component for powering AC appliances using solar panels.
Solar panels generate electricity as a direct current. Home appliances, however, are made to draw alternating current supplied by your power utility company. That means if you want your laptop, chargers, and virtually all the appliances in your home to work using solar panels you will have to convert them all to DC appliances.
Fortunately, there is a simpler less labor-intensive way to power your devices using solar panels. An inverter converts the direct current produced by solar panels into an alternate current used by electrical devices.
An inverter can work with or without a battery and there are different types of inverters for each scenario.
- Grid-tie inverters are used in grid-tied systems. In a grid-tie system, your solar system is connected to the grid. A grid-tie inverter is different from other inverters in that it shuts down when there is no power from the grid. This is done as a safety precaution to prevent the solar system from feeding electricity into the grid.
- Hybrid inverters can be used in grid-tied or off-grid systems. The distinguishing feature of a hybrid inverter is that it does not shut down if there is no power from the grid. Instead, they disconnect from the grid to keep supplying your home with power.
- Off-grid inverters are used in off-grid systems. Like hybrid inverters, off-grid inverters do not shut down because they are not connected to the grid.
Grid-tie and off-grid inverters cannot be interchanged. You cannot take a grid-tie inverter and turn it into an off-grid inverter and vice versa.
All inverters work to convert alternating current to direct current. Grid-tie and hybrid inverters have an additional function in that they regulate the voltage from solar panels to match the voltage from the grid. This is important if you want to sell the excess electricity from your solar system back to the grid.
Find out more in our post titled ” Can I Use Solar Panels Without An Inverter? Tips & Tricks“
Also, check out If Solar Panels Work During a Power Outage? What Happens!
When Do You Need a Battery?
A battery is necessary if your solar system is off-grid or if you need a backup power source in the event of a blackout. Another reason for having batteries is if you want to continue using solar at night.
The most common use case for including batteries in a solar system is for an off-grid solar system. In this system, you are not connected to the grid. That means all your power is supplied by your solar or at least not by a power utility company. Several pros make this an attractive design for a solar system.
Pros of having a battery
- Guaranteed power when you want it.
- Complete independence. All your energy needs are taken care of by you.
- You are using a sustainable source of energy.
On a side note, we highly recommend that you check out our post How Far Can Solar Panels Be from Battery and Other Components?
Also, check out Can a House Run on Solar Power Alone from Roof Solar Panels?
There are also a few cons to including batteries in your solar system.
Cons of having a battery
- Batteries are the most expensive part of a large solar system.
- Solar energy is not as reliable as energy from the grid.
Also, check out What Is Solar Panel VOC & VMP? What You Need To Know!