Two years ago I had a 6.6kW SolarEdge/Seraphin Solar System installed on my house in Adelaide. A few months ago I decided to join the less and less exclusive club of home battery owners.
So I called my original solar installer back and asked him to add a SolarEdge Home Battery at home. Three months later, it’s time to write about my setup experience, first impressions, and bumps along the way.
Why SolarEdge Home Battery?
Finn has a Tesla Powerwall and has written extensively about it, so he encouraged1 me to get a less common battery.
The SolarEdge battery was only released in Australia 6 months ago (I believe mine was the second installed in Adelaide). For a time it was known as ‘SolarEdge Energy Bank’, but SolarEdge Australia has since reverted to the imaginative moniker ‘SolarEdge Home Battery’.
And SolarEdge offered (and I believe still offers) to upgrade older SolarEdge inverters (like my 5kW HD Wave) to the new “Energy Hub” hybrid inverter for free when you purchase the SolarEdge battery.
So, I got a great deal on a new battery + inverter upgrade (it all costs $11,000).
The battery can store 9.7 kWh of energy. Over the past two years, my average daily usage has been 13kWh in the winter, which means 9.7kWh of storage was the sweet spot in price and size for my situation.
I got my original solar installer back
It is not mandatory to use the same installer who installed your solar power system for a battery upgrade. But I decided to invite back my solar installer from two years ago – SEM group.
It was because I wanted to keep all warranties under one roof. It makes things easier if I have any problems in the future. Plus, they did a fantastic job with my solar installation, so there was no reason not to invite them back!
Battery installation was smooth as butter
It took a good part of the day for a crew of two to replace my inverter and install the battery.
They were quick, efficient, and left me with a neat install—the aesthetics of which are worthy of a SolarEdge product brochure:
Since the backup is optional with the SolarEdge battery, and I paid for it, they also had to install the SolarEdge Backup Box above my standard:
One comment I will make about installation – final commissioning took forever (nearly two hours). If I had known it would take years, I would have slipped away for lunch instead of twiddling my thumbs at home.
Setting a Minimum Battery Reserve
During commissioning, I was asked: “What percentage do you want to set for the minimum battery reserve?” For non-techies, that means, “How much power do you want to conserve exclusively for blackout situations?”
I had to think of this one. The more I kept in reserve for power outages, the less I used my battery every day, hurting my return on investment. But if I put it low, or even at 0%, I might be faced with a situation where a power outage occurs and the battery goes flat – leaving me with an egg on my face.
I took an intermediate option and set it at 25% – keeping 2.5 kWh in reserve for use in the event of an outage.
After a few weeks of checking my watch, I realized that I would rather drain the battery completely and endure the embarrassment of having a dead battery if the stars aligned against me. The savings lost by having a stash was eating away at me.
I couldn’t change this setting through my app. So a quick email to SolarEdge support got them to do it for me.
It wasn’t all smiles and sunshine
Three days after the installers packed up and left, my battery decided to do it too. Through diligent monitoring of the SolarEdge app, I noticed that the battery was stuck at 35% state of charge:
A quick phone call to my installer had them back the next day to try to diagnose and fix the problem. Turns out the battery was bricked in and needed to be replaced. To make matters worse, SolarEdge was quoting over 3 weeks for warranty replacement.
But luckily – and this is why choosing a good installer is so important – SEM bought a new battery out of pocket and delivered it to me within a week.
It only took them a few hours to replace the battery and get it back in service. That means I could start showing off my new SolarEdge solar battery to my friends again.
How has the battery performed so far?
Before purchasing, I confirmed with the installer that my SolarEdge home battery would be able to provide what Finn calls “apocalypse proof” backup – that is, when the battery will recharge from the solar panels even if the grid is down.
It can produce 5kW of power, which is more than my house has ever used, even with two air conditioners on at the same time. So I rarely had to tap into the grid above my battery.
My typical daily consumption is around 7 kWh in summer and 13 kWh in winter. So having a 9.7kWh battery means I almost never completely drain it, except when I’ve had a string of overcast winter days.
One of the special features of SolarEdge home battery backup is that it takes a full 3 seconds to switch over in the event of a grid failure. Other batteries – like the hugely popular Telsa Powerwall – have instantaneous switching. SolarEdge claims this is a feature, not a bug, as it will be evident in the event of a power outage.
As an avid PC gamer, a 3 second toggle isn’t ideal, but it’s better than none at all!
Amber Electric more convincing than PowerShop
Finn was keen for me to join a Virtual Power Plant – or VPP – so that I had an extra dimension of battery ownership to write about. My enthusiasm to join one crumbled when I saw the only VPP I was eligible for has been Powershop.
In exchange for letting them pound my shiny new battery, they would pay me a whopping $10 a month.
Just as I was about to make the ultimate financial sacrifice for the SolarQuotes blog by subscribing to Powershop’s shitty deal, Finn invited me to a meeting with Amber Electric’s new partnerships manager.
We have already written about Amber – but for those who haven’t heard of it, it’s an energy retailer that impacts wholesale electricity rates.
They are about to launch their new “Smart shift” software to the public, and they wanted me to join the closed beta. This allows them to charge and discharge my battery – paying wholesale rates for electricity. This can go up to $15 per kWh exported!
On one particularly good day (or bad, if you were an Amber customer but had no solar or battery), I earned $97 in credits for draining my battery to the grid:
I’ll Be Damned – 3 Second Blackout Switchover *is* a feature!
I live in a townhouse complex so the main switchboard is not in my house – it is in a large cabinet in the shared driveway.
Coincidence or not, since my SolarEdge home battery was installed, the mains circuit breaker has tripped several times.
It’s obvious when this happens – because the power goes off for a full 3 seconds before the battery kicks in. So I had to go to the main switchboard several times to get the circuit breaker back on.
A week ago, it happened at 4 a.m. I noticed because the white noise machine I sleep with turned off and on again, waking me up. Also, I have a one year old so my sleep isn’t the best anyway.
Usually I wouldn’t be in a hurry to turn the grid back on – I don’t sleep with my AC on, so I could easily spend the night with low power. But because I’m part of Amber Electric’s “SmartShift” closed beta – a weary check of the app showed a wholesale price spike was expected for 6am.
My battery was only 30% charged and at 4am electricity prices were cheap. So if I didn’t get the mains back on, my battery wouldn’t be able to recharge from cheap grid power and then earn me money by discharging at 6am.
Telling myself it would be worth it when I checked my savings later that day, I jumped out of bed in my pajamas, in the cold, to turn the network back on.
Current Transformer (CT) Problems
Since joining Amber, I’ve noticed that when the battery drains on the grid, the indicated output power nearly doubles in my monitoring app:
It could be buggy SolarEdge monitoring software, or Amber suggested the CT clamps could be misconfigured. I have notified my installer and am waiting for him to set a time to come and inspect.
There were a few issues along the way, some bigger than others, but with a brand new product from a company that has never offered its own battery before, I didn’t expect that things are going smoothly.
The SolarEdge Home Battery does everything I expect of a battery, looks classy, and is compatible with Amber Electric’s SmartShift, which greatly increases my savings.
Would I recommend the SolarEdge battery to a friend with a SolarEdge system? Absolutely.
(If you want to see a video of the installation, we’ll post one in the next two weeks. Join the 20,000 subscribers to our SolarQuotes YouTube channel to be notified of its release.)
To note: If you’re hungry for more technical details, Ronald digs deeper SolarEdge Home Battery Specifications Here.
- My employer, SolarQuotes, paid for the battery and installation at market rates. SQ does not accept free material in exchange for reviews. ↩