Battery Storage FAQ


Emerging must-have technology

Battery backup systems like Sonnen and the Tesla Powerwall are emerging as the latest must-have technology. We’ve compiled some of the top questions we get asked about storage.

Want to learn more about battery storage? Check out our main storage page and a read a first-hand account from one of our customers on why he chose a battery storage system from A&R Solar.

What does it cost?

Some companies have led people to believe that battery storage is a small unit mounted on the wall like a piece of art…and all for $3,000. But that’s marketing. The small units you’ve seen are just batteries. That leaves out important and necessary components: inverters, charge controllers, transfer switches, protected load panels, software, labor, and miscellaneous electrical materials. A properly installed battery system paired with solar runs between $15,000 – $30,000 before the Federal Tax Credit (see below).

Do I have to have solar?

No – you could power it by other means, but power from the sun is certainly the cleanest and most reliable method. It also has the greatest tax advantages.

Am I eligible for the Federal Income Tax Credit?

As with all tax credits, please consult a tax professional before making financial decisions. However it’s commonly known that battery systems when paired with solar are eligible for the 30 percent Federal Income Tax Credit.

How much of my house can it power and for how long?

That depends. Battery storage can provide perpetual amounts of power when combined with solar. The grid might be down, but your solar panels are now feeding into your battery system instead of pushing all of that power back to your utility.

Here come the variables: the size of your solar PV system, the size of your battery storage system, and the biggest one of them all, how much energy your home consumes.

Picture your bathtub. The faucet is the power your solar modules are generating, while the drain represents how much electricity your home is consuming. The bathtub is the battery. It has to balance the amount of energy coming in with the amount going out.

That’s where we come in. We work with our customers to determine what essentials they’d like to have backed up during a power outage. It’s never a one-size-fits-all approach.

Why are batteries better than a generator?

Glad you asked.

  • When coupled with solar, battery storage systems recharge each day by the power of the sun. Do you have enough fuel stored away to run your generator for several days?
  • Batteries don’t emit carbon monoxide or pose increased fire hazards.
  • You don’t have to go outside in the middle of the night in bad weather to refuel.
  • Battery systems are quiet and designed to be aesthetically pleasing.
  • Battery systems have significantly longer warranties than most generators.
Will batteries work with my existing generator?

Yes. If you already have a generator, the system is equipped with an input that can be triggered to power the generator in dark weather situations. Check with us on compatibility.

What is AC coupling?

AC coupling is when you add storage to your existing grid-tied solar energy system. Most solar PV systems are designed to shut down when the power goes out in order to protect utility line workers. However, with AC coupling you can use your existing solar equipment to operate a storage system and safely power your home during an outage.

Is there a referral program?

Yes, we love to pay our referrers. The referral program pays you $50/kW of storage capacity up to $500. The person signing up for the system gets a discount, too. In fact, if you refer a solar + battery prospect and they go with both, they can earn up to $1,000 off their new system.

I have microinverters, can I still do battery backup?

Yes. We can aggregate a select amount of conductors from the microinverters to power the storage system.

Will there be a return on my investment?

Yes, two kinds: First is the incalculable kind that keeps your lights and heat on during a power outage or disaster. It’s tough to put a price on that kind of peace of mind. The second involves Time of Use (TOU) charges that utilities are considering implementing in the Northwest. Because the storage systems can be programmed as a backup and daily use battery, if your utility decides to charge more for electricity during peak times and solar production is low (typically 5-9pm), you’ll be ready because you can automatically move from grid to battery using the embedded software. This is why batteries are becoming so popular in states like Hawaii and California.

My inverter is installed outside, where should my battery be installed?

Although we can solve lots of problems with cleanly installed conduit, the best place for the battery system is as close to your main service panel and inverter(s) as possible. This is often in the garage opposite the inverter outside.

Can the battery be installed in an attic or crawl space?

No. It must be installed on a flat, level, indoor surface with sufficient side and overhead clearances for ventilation and electrical code compliance.

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