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Batteries

Published on September 30th, 2014 | by Jake Richardson

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Solar Energy Storage System For Homes and Businesses Unveiled

September 30th, 2014 by  


An 8.6 kWh lithium-ion solar energy storage system for residential and commercial use has been launched by JuiceBox Energy. It is designed to work with grid-tied or off-grid solar systems. It features a system controller so the battery can be used as back-up power to a grid, thus enabling peak shifting and demand charge reduction. Notice these capabilities go beyond mere storage.

juiceboxIn other words, battery technology can be smart and interactive in addition to storing electricity. The system has a battery based inverter, and management system for charging and discharging. Diagnostics are part of the design, too, to monitor the system for potential faults. JuiceBox will be available in the fourth quarter of 2014, with greater volume production beginning in 2015.

“Energy storage is the critical technology that allows unrestrained solar growth enabling a clean energy future and a more resilient grid,” explained Neil Maguire, CEO of JuiceBox. JuiceBox is taking advance orders, but it isn’t clear yet what the price is.

It was reported in 2013 that solar power storage systems do qualify for the Federal Residential Energy Tax Credit. This kind of incentive is important because solar energy generally appears to be regarded as primarily about solar panels, but storage could become more common.

One thing that is nearly taken for granted with these new technologies is that they will be used for data collection that then can be constantly analyzed to improve those systems, “Another important innovation on the technology side will be “turning solar inverters into what we call ‘smart’ inverters. California is once again taking a lead in pushing grid-interactive functions into the inverters that connect solar PV systems to the grid. We want to get those features out into the field in every inverter possible, as soon as possible,” said Carlson.

Big data refers to the trend that is currently emerging and changing industry, but one could say there is also little data. Homeowners and business owners can measure and analyze their own data streams. It seems only reasonable to wonder if there aren’t greater opportunities for innovation embedded in these future data. It won’t be long before solar power storage systems are in the hands of people who will be sharing information on blogs and in online communities.

Surely this user information will add value somewhere and somehow to the solar energy sector, and for homeowners to optimize their energy efficiency. There has been too much focus on the cost of solar energy, and not enough on the fact that in the long run, such an investment can save money. Intelligent solar energy systems should help consumer awareness expand.

Image Credit: JuiceBox Solar


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  • Antero Rantanen

    This is my first message to this site.
    This is the best news site I know. Thank you !
    I have shared knowledge about this news site to every forum, where I write.
    I have made my own power to my house with small wind and solar for a decade.
    I have 24V 2000Ah old ship batteries NICAD and they work fine.
    My point;
    I have been interested about batteries a long time, for home storage.
    I think these Edison NIFE batteries are the best solution for home energy storage.
    They will last nearly forever, non poisonous etc
    You can find info about them; http://www.nickel-iron-battery.com/
    Yoy can find some manufacturers;
    https://ironedison.com/
    http://www.ironcorepower.com.au/page3.php

  • TedKidd

    Better hurry or Tesla will eat their lunch.

    • Marion Meads

      I am not optimistic about Tesla’s pricing. They have overpriced each and every product from their original target prices.

  • Sasa Marinic

    this sounds interesting, what would the lifetime expectancy of this system be?

    • Chasing down the CO2 output of the planet,

      • Sasa Marinic

        It might look like that but if you need to replace it every 3 to 4 years it is probably not good for the planet either.

        • Ronald Brakels

          If in conjunction with rooftop solar it stops a tonne or more of coal being burned in those 3 or 4 years ten environmentally I think it would have to be worth the trade off. The overall system would have to be made in a very strange way for it not to be worth it. The good news is in Germany they have something similar with a normal operating life of ten years and an unknown amount of reduced performance beyond that.

          • Sasa Marinic

            Thank you for sharing, but my question still stands? How log does the juicebox last? According to scientific literture I’ve found Li-ion does not go for 10 years! And how much is 8 kw/h in hours for average western energy consumption?

          • Ronald Brakels

            I know nothing, nothing! about ze juicebox, so I’m afraid I can’t be of direct help to you. But we can do a little scientific observation ourselves. The Nissan Leaf battery pack is lithium-ion and has a 160,000 km warranty. A less economically minded driver might get 5 kilometers per kilowatt-hour so that represents 32,000 kilowatt-hours drawn from a the 24 kilowatt-hour capacity battery pack. That’s over 1,300 cycles right there or over three and a half years at a cycle a day. And the battery’s not useless at that point, it’s down to 80+% capacity. That might be a problem for a vehicle, but it’s not a problem for stationary energy storage. So if we are willing to degrade the battery down to say 75% we might get seven years out of it. And a storage battery should have an easier life than a car battery pack, a more constant temperature and more gentle loads, so that could eek more lifespan out. A less hectic lifestyle could help a lot. So 10 years would be quite an accomplishment, but shouldn’t be impossible.

            But personally I think SMA simply oversizes its battery pack to get a 10 year life. That’s what I’d do.

          • Sasa Marinic

            So my estimation of 3 to 4 years was not that much off, and you are right about running the baterries even on 75% but less expensive baterries as Pb would then make more sense for stattionary use where weight and volume do not play a major part?

          • Ronald Brakels

            Different chemistries have different advantages and disadvantages. Lead is cheap up front but has some drawbacks which means its not the most economical choice in some applications. Currently lithium batteries look set to continue to decline in price thanks to the electric car industry but other chemistries my “catch up” and be more suitable for stationary energy storage.

          • vensonata

            There is a whole club of battery connoisseurs out here. We could chew your ear off for hours with tales of off-grid storage experience…how to murder a battery is our favorite story. Mystical de-sulphators is another spooky story. The legend of Edison iron batteries from 1910. Oh, my son, you ain’t heard nothing yet!

          • Leonardo

            Leaf battery are LiNiMnCO2 because EV weight is important.
            LTO life is more than15folds, tough weight/KWh is double.

  • Rob G

    Is this the game changer we’ve all been waiting for? The price may decide that. If it is then our current government in Australia, would be very worried. 1GW of rooftop solar could quickly become 2, 3 or even more. And for those who don’t know, that 1 GB of solar has already inflicted a pretty nasty blow to the coal power industry here.

    • This type of device could indeed be disruptive technology.

  • timallard

    It’s a move to lithium where faster recharge, space & having to vent are issues but most people use 24v deep cycle lead-acid 15-20year for storage in boxes outside the electrical panel, less $$ a kwh a guess; the best brands are designed for PVs.

    A big expense is the inverter, those can fail so Earthships use essentials from 24vdc and the rest on the inverter. That way when it goes you can keep living until it’s repaired.

    • Leonardo

      Please don’t confuse. Old lead batteries was used for UPS and they are still charged, Discharge only when power outage.
      If you cycle lead acid batteries, sulphation occur very rapidly.
      I tried lead acid in electric vehicles since 1995, and obtained no more than 200-300 cycles.
      Also when you put in series, you need (as in LiIon) a cell balancer to avoid hydrogen build-up and a low-voltage cut-off to avoid excessive sulphation.
      Lead sulphate is non-conductive and current drop.
      Also during discharge, electrolyte density drop and become less conductive, so internal impedance rise and battery get warmed and loss energy.
      Today there are more better alternatives….

      • timallard

        Earthships have good results from banks of lead-acid that are designed for home solar for fairly high current demand & deep-cycle, pricey, they use 24v 1,200 Ah deep-cycle 20-year guarantee.

        While the lithiums charge-discharge faster, it’ll be a while to know actual aging, I agree with others it’ll be a matter of cost, the good deep-cycle batteries have a track record for the price to compare to.

  • UncleB

    What is the scrap metal value of the Lithium in this unit? Are North Americans aware of the market price for Lithium metal, carbonate, Can somebody with the right smarts tell us this? Will this reflect on the original purchase price for the unit? Will the price of Lithium scrap follow or even surpass the price of Gold? A ‘reveal’ is needed Please!

    • Ronald Brakels

      The cost of lithium is a small portion of the cost of batteries. It’s pretty light so a little goes a long way. Lithium can can is recycled from old batteries and there is no shortage of lithium in the world and if there was it can be extracted from seawater. And I don’t mean extracted in the way we could technically extract gold, I mean it has been done commercially in the past. So no chance of lithium ever costing anywhere close to gold and there are always battery chemistries other than lithium that can be used if there was a shortage of lithium.

      • Marion Meads

        Lighter metals means bulkier, more volume per unit weight. Energy density is measured on per unit weight when it comes to mobile application such as cars. For residential and not-so-mobile application, it only matters a little. Fortunately, lithium is way more abundant than other precious metals. And then there is sodium which is in every nook and cranny of the oceans, and the batteries based on sodium are also making strides, especially for energy storage.

  • Typo patrol:

    “It was reported in 2013 that solar power storage systems do [qualify] for the Federal Residential Energy Tax Credit.”

    Is this the same company that makes the JuiceBox EVSE?

    • GCO

      The JuiceBox EVSEs are from those guys: http://www.emotorwerks.com/
      I don’t think they’re related, which is too bad because EMW seems to produce pretty solid stuff.

      • So, hopefully the name ‘JuiceBox’ being used for two different products from two different companies won’t confuse people.

        At first, I thought this battery storage one would be open source; but I am glad they are going to be selling it.

  • vensonata

    This would have been very handy…like yesterday already. How long have we had cordless lithium tools, lithium notebook computers, lithium ev’s, lithium battery smoke alarms (9 years they last!). And now duh, lithium battery banks. Why does my intuition tell me the price will be ludicrous and the pack at 8.6kwh is a toy. For off- grid you need to start at 36kwh at $300 kwh to be taken seriously. Cycle life? Needs to be at least 3000 to 80%. But hey, this isn’t Japan or Germany is it?

  • It would be great if this allowed a grid-tied system to run for a few hours if there were a blackout on the grid, then resynchronized with the grid as it came back up.

    • Tom Capon

      As far as I know, heat pump compressors are AC synchronous motors, which means they use the 60Hz AC wave to make them spin. For a DC-input system to be efficient, you’d need a brushless motor, which needs its own inverter to make AC current to run the motor… and you now have the same efficiency but more expensive hardware. I think AC home electric systems are here to stay.

      • GCO

        Higher-end air conditioners, pool pumps etc all drive their motor with (3-phase) AC generated internally, so it’s not bound to grid frequency and can follow the actual workload instead.
        Those systems are not only more efficient, they would obviously run fine, if not better, fed with DC.

        • Joseph Dubeau

          from Wiki
          “An induction or asynchronous motor is an AC electric motor in which the electric current in the rotorneeded to produce torque is obtained by electromagnetic induction from the magnetic field of the statorwinding.
          An induction motor therefore does not require mechanical commutation, separate-excitation or self-excitation for all or part of the energy transferred from stator to rotor, as in universal, DC and large synchronous motors.”

          • Stepper motor Mosfet drive DC square wave 555.

          • Leonard

            Induction=loss

        • Leonard

          I agree.

      • Leonard

        In fact now all AC pump compressor has an inverter to increase their efficiency !

  • Marion Meads

    It would be interesting to know the expected life span of this energy storage system and their price. As it is, as the price of buying this was not disclosed in the article, I am speculating that the company will use this as part of the service utility package. They will price it so that you pay almost the same amount of money to either your utility or to them, and maybe, they will discount it slightly for you to give you incentive and for the fact that it would be greener in combo with solar PV, around to less than 1% less than your current utility bills.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Germany’s SMA makes solar inverters with lithium-ion storage with a designed life of 10 years. And they should keep operating beyond that point, just in a degraded fashion.

      • LifeonBatteries

        We don’t seem to get true market costing for consumers with these reports both on life and costing. Its hard to encourage people to invest in PV tech with uncertainty, even myself which has off grid storage.

      • vensonata

        Bosch also makes lithium packs, they have been operating in Germany for about 3 years. Of course, solar city /Tesla have a 5 kwh pack thats about $5000. It can be hung on the wall in the garage. That price is way out of line. Balqon is the only one that I have seen that are realistically priced and they range from 3 kwh to 72kwh, complete with battery management system, about $347 kwh, with 3000 cycles to 80% for the larger packs. The only hesitation I have is that the Balqon battery packs should have been snapped up by yachts, Rv’s and off grid people. Yet I can’t find any personal reviews on the web. Where are the users? The battery, if it performs as advertised, for the price as advertised, is a complete game changer…so lets hear from real people, really using it, please, please, please.

        • Bob_Wallace
          • vensonata

            Dear lord! this could make a great plot for a movie. The amount of time I have spent researching these lithium batteries, I could have generated the power on a stationary bicycle! Thanks for the tips though….the mystery deepens.

          • Bob_Wallace

            A few months ago I was in the same position. I decided that lithium-ion batteries are not quite ready for prime time when it comes to off grid applications.

            I went with wet lead-acids, figured I’d push them a bit harder than I would normally, perhaps use them up in 5-8 years rather than stretch for 10-12. Within a 5-7 year window I expect things will have settled down, the early adopters will have sorted out the bugs and brought prices down.

            Next set is likely to be something other than lead-acid.

          • vensonata

            Yes Bob, we have the same karma. We are the last generation to buy a lead acid battery bank, but hey those 8 track tapes weren’t all that bad were they?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I go all the way back to 78s and wire recorders.

        • GCO

          Personal experience: I ordered some of their batteries, which were listed as “not in stock, 6 weeks lead time”.
          That was 2 months ago. I’ve received an email apologizing about the delay though.

          • vensonata

            Fantastic: the first real person with a real experience…er, you are real aren’t you GCO? But yes, I have seen that same story recounted on obscure sites. Delays, delays, phone the boss Balwinder Samra, he gets involved and gets “Steve” to move his ass, then apologies and the battery arrives. Then the people seem over the moon pleased. I have found nothing about what really happens if something goes wrong…who can fix it? Do you ship it back for repair etc.?

    • ChargedUp

      should be relatively easy to figure, general price of grid intertie inverter plus price of X # of Li cells to provide desired capacity/reserves plus 20-25% markup plus installation. someone else on here’s gotta know those numbers off the top of their head…

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