Can You Have Home Battery Storage Without Solar Panels?

Around 10,000 UK homes have a storage battery

Storage batteries help reduce your reliance on the grid

The average price of a storage battery is £4,500


10,000 households in the UK now use home battery storage.

Most of these homes charge their battery with solar panels, taking advantage of the free electricity they generate during the day.

Not every home is suitable for solar panels, though. If your home falls into this category, don’t worry: you can still have battery storage without solar panels.

We’ve explained how that’s possible, looking at the benefits and disadvantages of having a battery without solar panels, and outlined how you can add a solar array at a later date.

If you’d like to know what solar-plus-storage could cost you, fill in this short form and our expert installers will be in touch with quotes for you to compare.

Solar battery attached to a garage wall

Does a storage battery work without solar panels?

A storage battery can absolutely work without solar panels. You can use a storage battery to store electricity from the grid.

Then you can draw on this electricity during peak demand or possibly even in power outages. Using a battery in this way can save you money on your energy bills, as long as you charge it when demand — and therefore prices — are low.

You’ll still be using power from the grid though, so you won’t be able to escape the increasing cost of electricity, even if you avoid peak times.

We recommend combining battery storage with solar panels for this very reason. Getting solar panels means you can charge your battery for free whenever the sun is up.

You can then fall back on your battery when your solar panels can’t generate enough electricity, such as on seriously cloudy days, or at night.

The downside is the upfront cost of getting both — battery storage will cost you £4,500 on average, and a 3.5 kilowatt (kW) solar panel system will set you back £5,420.

A storage battery’s typical lifespan is 10–15 years too, and with solar panels lasting around 25 years or more, you’ll need to purchase a second battery. This brings the total cost to £14,420.

Concept image of home storage battery

What are the benefits of a lone storage battery?

Having a storage battery without solar panels has advantages compared to just relying on electricity from the grid. Here are the main benefits:

  • You can avoid the higher costs of electricity during peak times — by charging your storage battery when demand is lower, you can use this electricity in the evening and avoid paying peak demand prices
  • Reduces strain on the grid — using stored electricity during peak demand not only saves you money, but also puts less pressure on the grid, which means fewer power outages for everyone
  • Cuts down emissions — for many rural homes, a power cut means turning to a fuel-guzzling generator for electricity. A storage battery lets you power your home without one – and if a storm is expected to knock out the grid, you can preemptively charge your storage battery, so you’re prepared
  • Increases energy independence — not all homes can have solar panels, but you can still get a storage battery to give you more control over the energy you use

 

What are the benefits of having a storage battery and solar panels?

  • Even less reliance on the grid — combining solar panels with a storage battery means you can charge the battery during the day using free energy generated by the sun. You may even be able to go off-grid if you have a large enough battery
  • You’ll shrink your carbon emissions — a 4.2 kilowatt solar array saves 0.85 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, which is 13% of the average person’s emissions
  • You can sell excess energy via the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) — energy generated by your solar panels that doesn’t go to charging your battery or powering your home can be sold to the SEG for £73 per year, on average

 

Are there any downsides to using a storage battery without solar panels?

  • You’re still reliant on the grid — because you’ll be charging your battery with electricity from the grid, you’re at the mercy of electricity prices, even during low demand. The average household pays £987 per year for electricity, increasing to £1,683 in October 2022. It’s only going to get more expensive, so if you can add solar panels, it’s well worth considering
  • A battery will cost you around £4,500, but you’ll still be paying for grid electricity
  • You’re better off getting solar panels on their own instead — it’s £5,420 on average for a 3.5 kW solar panel system that will typically last at least 25 years, which is more than enough for a three-bedroom home – and you’ll break even in 11.5 years, on average

Can you add solar panels to your battery later on?

Yes, you can add solar panels to an existing battery system. It isn’t even that difficult — it’s just a matter of hooking up your new solar panels to the battery.

Functionally, it’s the same process as adding a battery to a solar panel system, but the other way round.

We recommend using a professional to install and connect your solar panels to your battery system, because of the risk of damage to yourself or the products.

Can you charge an electric car with a lone storage battery?

You can use a storage battery to charge your electric car, but it usually isn’t worth it.

That’s because you’re paying to charge your battery with electricity from the grid, only to then transfer the stored energy to your vehicle — making the battery an unnecessary middleman.

The rare time it might be worth it is if you’re on a tariff that offers cheaper electricity at certain times — at night, for example. You could use the cheap electricity to charge your battery, then use it on your electric vehicle.

Summary

A storage battery is a great way to become more energy independent, even without a solar panel system to charge it.

It will always be better to pair them however, because despite the increased upfront cost, you will eventually make a profit — £3,590 over the lifetime of your solar-plus-storage system, on average.

You’ll drastically reduce your grid reliance too, meaning less strain on the grid, fewer CO2 emissions, and an important step to a cleaner world for all.

If you’re wondering what solar-plus-storage might cost you, just fill in this short form, and our expert installers will be in touch with quotes for you to compare.

Tom Gill Writer

Tom is a big fan of all things eco and has a passionate interest in how technology and localised projects can work together to make the world greener.

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