Are cheap solar batteries any good? Retrofitting an existing solar system with a solar battery

Are Cheap Solar Batteries Any Good?

With the increasing popularity of solar energy, many homeowners are exploring the option of adding a battery system to their solar setup. The idea of having a solar battery is appealing, especially when it comes to reducing electricity bills and ensuring power supply during outages. However, the question that often arises is, “Are cheap solar batteries any good?” In this article, we will delve into the topic and explore the practicality and benefits of budget-friendly solar batteries.

The Retrofitting Process

Retrofitting for Solar Battery Integration

The journey begins with retrofitting an existing 6.6-kilowatt solar system with a SunGrow battery and hybrid inverter. This retrofitting process involves replacing an older Fronius 5-kilowatt solar inverter with a SunGrow hybrid inverter, streamlining the system for solar and battery compatibility.

Choosing SunGrow for Simplicity

While we recommend Growatt solar batteries to retrofit your existing solar system, this example was done using a Sungrow Hybrid inverter.

One of the key decisions made during this retrofit is to use a single SunGrow hybrid inverter that handles both solar energy and the battery. While other options like AC coupling are available, the choice here is driven by a desire for simplicity and streamlined monitoring. This decision may raise eyebrows among Fronius enthusiasts, but it sets the stage for a more cost-effective solar battery setup.

The Reasons Behind Getting a Solar Battery

Lowering Electricity Bills

The primary motivation for adding a solar battery to this setup is to reduce electricity bills. The homeowner had been benefiting from a 22-cent feed-in tariff, which was about to drop to just 5 cents. To counter this change, the solar battery will be used to store excess energy during the day, reducing nighttime electricity consumption.

Exploring SunGrow’s Budget-Friendly Solution

One of the main drivers for choosing the SunGrow battery is its affordability. While budget-friendly, SunGrow batteries and inverters have gained a reputation for being reliable and easy to commission. They offer robust monitoring capabilities and flexibility, allowing users to optimize their energy usage based on different tariffs and energy sources.

The Installation Process

Understanding the Property Layout

Before diving into the installation details, it’s essential to understand the layout of the property. The installation involves the garage, where the solar system’s main components are located, and the unit, where the switchboard and other essential elements are situated.

Upgrading Solar Analytics

As part of the retrofit, the older hardware-based solar analytics system is being upgraded to a software-based one. SunGrow’s solar analytics software is chosen for its ability to communicate directly with SunGrow hardware, offering real-time data for efficient monitoring.

Single-Phase Backup Setup

The homeowner’s property operates on a single-phase electrical supply, simplifying the backup setup. The SunGrow unit is capable of providing backup power to essential circuits, such as lights, the fridge, and select power outlets, ensuring basic functionality during grid outages.

Affordable Alternative to Tesla Powerwall

While many consider the Tesla Powerwall for solar battery solutions, the SunGrow battery proves to be a more cost-effective option. It offers a comparable amount of storage capacity while saving thousands of dollars. This affordability makes SunGrow an attractive choice for those on a budget.

Adapting to Different Phases

For properties with three-phase electrical supplies, SunGrow’s flexibility shines through. It can provide proper three-phase backup or adapt to single-phase backup, allowing homeowners to tailor their backup solutions to their specific needs.

The Installation Details

Battery Module Installation

The installation process involves stacking four 3.2-kilowatt-hour battery modules, each weighing around 30 kilograms. These stackable modules are designed for easy installation, eliminating the need for heavy lifting and making the setup more manageable.

Ensuring Stability

Stability is crucial when dealing with battery modules, especially when they are stacked. To prevent accidents, a wall bracket is securely fixed to the top battery, ensuring that the 120 kilograms of battery modules remain steady and safe.

Wiring for DC Coupling

The battery modules are connected to the hybrid inverter through DC coupling. The wiring involves DC power connections, grounding, and data connections to allow seamless communication between the battery management system and the inverter.

The Commissioning Process

H1: Quick Commissioning of the System

Commissioning a solar battery system can be a time-consuming process, but in this case, it only takes 20 minutes. This swift commissioning is a testament to the ease of setting up a SunGrow battery system.

Monitoring and Testing

The final steps involve rigorous testing. The system’s performance is checked to ensure that when solar energy generation exceeds consumption, the battery effectively stores the excess energy. Additionally, tests confirm that during periods of high energy demand, the battery seamlessly provides additional power, preventing reliance on the grid.


In conclusion, the retrofitting process to integrate a SunGrow battery and hybrid inverter into an existing solar system offers a practical solution for homeowners seeking to reduce electricity bills and ensure a reliable power supply. While budget-friendly solar batteries like SunGrow may raise questions about their effectiveness, this installation demonstrates their affordability, reliability, and ease of use. For those looking to embrace solar battery technology without breaking the bank, SunGrow provides a compelling alternative to more expensive options like the Tesla Powerwall. So, are cheap solar batteries any good? The answer, as seen in this installation, is a resounding yes.

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